On the mystery of “our deeply strange existence” from scientist David Eagleman

We are living in an era where humans seem to need the strong seasoning of certainty even more than ever. Militant atheism seems hell bent (pardon the expression, a tad inappropriate in this context, eh what?!) on ramming down our collective throats their conviction that religion is pernicious rubbish. And militant religious fanatics have been turning to their usual tools, honed to a fine art  over many bloodsoaked centuries, of persecution and/or slaughter in the name of whatever faith they aver is ‘the one and only truth’.

How totally refreshed I was, therefore, given our current less than calm and reasonable collective context, to come across a wonderful opinion piece in a recent New Scientist magazine, from which the following quote is taken:

” But when we reach the end of the pier of everything we know, we find that it only takes us part of the way. Beyond that all we see is uncharted water. Past the end of the pier lies all the mystery about our deeply strange existence: the equivalence of mass and energy, dark matter, multiple spatial dimensions, how to build consciousness, and the big questions of meaning and existence….good scientists are comfortable holding many possibilities at once, rather than committing to a particular story over others. In light of this, I have found myself surprised by the amount of certainty out there….”

David Eagleman is a neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. His book of ‘possibilian’ tales, Sum, became an international best-seller and is published in 22 languages.

To read the whole of the opinion piece  “Why I am a ‘possibilian'” which I found so refreshing, click HERE.

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300 words copyright Anne Whitaker/David Eagleman 2010 and 2016
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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12 responses to “On the mystery of “our deeply strange existence” from scientist David Eagleman

  1. Science is such a joy when we can accept the inherent mystery of life! [Otherwise it’s just another stressful job.]

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    • I take it from this comment that you may have a background in science – or did at one point – since it sounds as though you are speaking from experience! Albert Einstein and many other great scientists were humble in the face of that essential Mystery. What a pity a few more of the contemporary, loudly atheistic scientific reductionists couldn’t take a leaf out of their book…thanks for dropping by, Kilaya.

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      • Their loss. For me, it took a certain number of beatings before I finally bowed to the awesome Infinitude of it all. Lol.

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      • Yes, well, I have form in that direction also. It took a range of powerful experiences of a non-rational nature during my 20s to convince me that the world as revealed by the rational mind was only one of many … it’s a pity that direct experiential evidence isn’t given the same status in mainstream science as is accorded to statistical evidence. As you say, their loss…

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  2. I was interested in reading the piece, but the price is a little steep — US$21.99. As a matter of fact, that’s really steep. Ah, well. Paywalls are popping up everywhere — can’t blame them.

    I’ve never heard of Eagleman, but I thought it was interesting that he’s associated with Baylor. On the other hand, those neuroscientists are quite a crew — no matter their institution!

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  3. Well, I guess the less mainstream books are, the more they tend to cost. Neuroscientists really are working on several frontiers – so it would be surprising if they were generally conventional in their approaches..we need people, always, who are out of the main stream. But that costs, not necessarily in financial terms. I bought Eagleman’s book. It’s worth a read!

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  4. Delightful, Anne, and thank you for both your intro — it seems as many hardcore fundamentalists in Atheism as other dogma-systems — and for sharing the intel about David Eagleman’s Possibilianism.

    I noticed there is also a New Yorker article about him, and both a Vimeo and Youtube video … plus his blog (so other options than the New Scientist article, for those who wish to follow the thread you’ve offered!).

    xo Jamie

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  5. Many thanks for adding information value to this post, Jamie! And almost-Spring greetings to you! X Anne

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  6. Sorry. That was supposed to say ‘ great post Anne – love this work’. The link was to my post about scientism and the work of Rupert Sheldrake

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  7. I see (the pondering of) our unexplained existence on this planet as a Saturn-Neptune energy. We have come in from Spirit and the void (Neptune), clueless as to how we got here (the Great Mystery – Neptune) and, out of fear and insecurity (Saturn) we start constructing and structuring (Saturn) all sorts of theories and (probably false) reality systems in a weak attempt to try and explain it all (and fail miserably). This is done in an effort to make us feel a little bit more secure (Saturn). When the conscious mind (and the ego) can’t explain everything, it feels fear, and clutches at straws.

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  8. Thanks, Wizron! Yes, the endless dialectic between order (Saturn) and chaos (Neptune) determines everything. We humans will never be able to control that…or explain it…

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