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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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  • Nov 3 2013: Belief is not evidence. The fact alone that we may be predisposed to believe something is not evidence of its existence. It is only when taken in the context of other facts, particularly those which are otherwise random or unexplainable that the theory gains meaning. All by itself, Jaynes's theorized brain development simply explains our belief in a willful consciousness greater than our own. That is not evidence of such a thing. But, when references are made, such as the one in Romans where is is specifically mentioned that the "invisible" qualities of God, "namely, his eternal power and divine nature" i.e. his ability to be perceived and responded to beyond a finite human lifetime and a pure, incorruptible nature centuries before we have any theories or research into the topic, and what he has found comes up a match with Scripture, well, Scripture starts to acquire a credibility that may not have been otherwise extended to it.

    I think Jaynes is very much a careful researcher, and he seems reluctant to attribute much to his work beyond a reasonable explanation of what he has found and how it may explain some of our development. I never got the feeling he was an advocate for Christ so much as he was an advocate of not speculating beyond his evidence.

    If my argument is anything, it is that Jaynes's work confirms Scripture in ways previously impossible. It explains why we believe as we do. And if in fact our belief is based in our neurology, we are foolish to ignore it. Just as we would be foolish to ignore our opposable thumbs and their role in our development.

    If we are made to believe, and God is real, that makes sense. If we are made to believe, and God doesn't exist, that still makes sense, because it at least explains why we believe. If we are not made to believe, and God doesn't exist, we have a lot of explaining to do. If we are not made to believe, and God does exist, things may be just like He says.

    I prefer the first way. It's just my nature.

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