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John Paul Thornton

CEO/ Founder, Thornton Consulting, LLC

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Has anyone here done any research into Julian Jaynes' theory on the origin of consciousness?

I am slowly reading through Dr Jaynes' book 'The Origin of Consciousness
in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind' and the theory of the evolution of human consciousness he presents is most intriguing. Has anyone else here read his work, and if so, what was your take on it?

His books site: http://www.julianjaynes.org/bicameralmind.php

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  • Oct 31 2013: It's been a long time (about 25 years) since I read the book, but my distillation is this: We are physiologically predisposed to believe in God.

    Now, for non-Christians or non Westerners, you might substitute the phrase "power greater than ourselves" for "God" with no loss of meaning. For atheists, (most notably, the Objectivists) I'm afraid you'll have to deal with the physiology. If it is true that this is how we are built, then it is real. It would be a falsity to ignore it. If it is not true, you'll have to explain the physiology otherwise.

    For me, it provides one of the most powerful reasons for having faith I've ever encountered.

    Romans 1:19 "For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made..."

    The reference here, directly, is to the perception of things credited by us as having been made by God. As I see it, this perception is made possible by the neurological developments referenced in Jaynes's work.

    So, nearly 2000 years after Paul wrote this, we're presented with both a theory and physical evidence that support it.

    For me, that seals the deal. There remains much to be done in reducing his evidence to the level of scientifically-acceptable proof, but if you believe, you have a friend in Jaynes. If you don't, you have a lot of work to do finding sufficient evidence for refutation.

    We ignore our own nature at our peril, and so must accept it as wholeheartedly as it is instilled within us.
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      Oct 31 2013: Are you arguing, or is the book, that if people are physiologically predisposed to believe something, what they are predisposed to believe must actually be true in the sense that the word "true" is normally used?

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