the great rebirth debate

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Lazy_eye » Thu May 16, 2013 4:09 pm

Alex123 wrote: If consciousness is immaterial and has no place..


Here's a question that puzzles me a little. Is it logically necessary for consciousness to be immaterial in order for rebirth to take place?

Couldn't there be the possibility that existence (including formation of the nama-rupa complex and the associated sense of Self) just recurs for some reason?

Viññāṇa normally arises in conglomeration with the other aggregates. The only exception I'm aware of is the "formless realms", but these are a somewhat peripheral area in Buddhism and could well be a holdover from some previous model.

Time loops are a popular subject in sci-fi. These don't involve a floaty immaterial consciousness, just some sort of spatial/temporal oddity.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Thu May 16, 2013 4:16 pm

binocular wrote:That could mean many things. For example, it could mean you were new to Buddhism and not particularly knowledgeable, and, excuse the word, cocky, but wanted to gain a place and acceptance among Buddhists or were blindly eager for a solution to your existential quandary, so you played along and everything seemed to make sense.


I did believe in rebirth because I liked Buddhism very much. It was much better than other religions and more practical than mere philosophy. But then my crisis of faith occurred when I paid more attention to talk on fish 5,000km in length, demon Rahu swallowing the moon, sun rotating around the Earth, life forms as flying invisible piece of meat being pecked by crows and vultures - and then I realized. I heard these stories somewhere before... If these things are false, then Pali Canon is not infallible in other aspects.

binocular wrote:Later on, when the first flush started to wane, you started to actually think more about the things you supposedly believed, and that eventually lead you to recant your previous position or certainty thereof...


Yes you are right. I was very enthusiastic at first. Also, my knowledge was improving with time so eventually I realized the problems with rebirth. While I don't want to say that I am 100% certain rebirth doesn't exist, the evidence we have is difficult to reconcile with teaching of literal rebirth.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kirk5a » Thu May 16, 2013 4:16 pm

Alex123 wrote:
kirk5a wrote:And by the way, now you're changing your story. You originally said "Neurology proved that consciousness depends on the brain." I asked for evidence, and now you are restricting the point to observations of alterations, rather than causation.


You are playing with definitions. Let me rephrase it more precisely: By damaging the brain, you can damage mental states. Also by damaging the brain you can make person blind, deaf, not-feel any pain, etc.

It is also not just matter of causation, but of dependence. Even if the brain is not the sole cause for mind, or consciousness - if it is necessary cause, then even if other causes are met, if this necessary cause is missing - then consciousness or mind will not occur.

So you keep asserting. You don't have any proof one way or the other. Just assertions.

kirk5a wrote:That is really weak. First of all, we could tinker with a radio and make Beethoven sound like Hell-spawn Symphony No. 5.


1) How can radio convert sound carrying Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 into coherent music such as "Sweet Dreams" by Marylin Manson.

That is completely irrelevant.
2) Even if you could change any signal into any coherent music, the final outcome is still with the radio. If brain is responsible for interpretation of "signal" as loving kindness or hatred, then the brain is still important and necessary cause for the final outcome.

So? The context here is rebirth. So there is a continuity of consciousness (signal) in some way, which becomes associated with a new brain (radio).
3) Without the radio, what music can the signal produce? It can't. Same is with brain.

Again, so? Does that indicate anything about rebirth? The point is, if the brain isn't the productive cause of the entirety of consciousness, then it's wrong to think that rebirth is impossible owing to the physical destruction of the brain.
Radio wave is produced by physical causes, and quickly ceases. What produces consciousness (if not the brain) and how can we study it?

:meditate:
4) If consciousness is immaterial and has no place, then how does it interact with physical objects that have place? Why is it when I walk downstairs or upstairs, the consciousness changes location? What keeps it glued to this body and location of this body?

This thread is about rebirth, and I am simply responding at this point to your materialistic arguments du jour, not attempting to provide a complete explanation of consciousness to you. Nor do I have it.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Thu May 16, 2013 4:34 pm

kirk5a wrote:So you keep asserting. You don't have any proof one way or the other. Just assertions.


Read books on neurology for in depth analysis. Also I have given some links to studies about brain and mental functions.

kirk5a wrote:
Alex wrote:
kirk5a wrote:That is really weak. First of all, we could tinker with a radio and make Beethoven sound like Hell-spawn Symphony No. 5.

1) How can radio convert sound carrying Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 into coherent music such as "Sweet Dreams" by Marylin Manson.

That is completely irrelevant.


Fully relevant. It shows a fatal flaw in signal & radio argument. If the brain is responsible for how the "signal" is converted, then it is a necessary cause for
what sound will be played back. When rebirth occurs, the new brain will play this part. Not this mystical consciousness. So how can there be a multi-life development and continuity if the brain is such an important cause and totally new brain arises?

If the brain is one of the necessary causes for production of mental states and consciousness (other cause could be learned behavior stored in the brain), then when it is gone, so will be consciousness with all the skills.

kirk5a wrote:So? The context here is rebirth. So there is a continuity of consciousness (signal) in some way, which becomes associated with a new brain (radio).


And there is no proof for mind, consciousness, memory, skills that are independent of the brain & body. If concrete memory and skills are stored in the brain, and cease when the brain ceases, then what about continuous multi-life development? How can it occur?

When a person is born, how do we know that there was rebirth rather than first birth?
As it comes to rebirth, there are always TWO points when it occurs. It occurs after death (post-mortem) of this body which we cannot experience now, and it occurs at/before birth of this body (pre-natal). The latter can theoretically be experienced or at least can be remembered. However: When I (Alex) was born, I didn't come with developed positive or negative skills. I didn't come with knowledge of any languages, and there was nothing from which I could now infer that I inherited my past qualities from previous lives. Nothing to say about the lack of direct experience of rebirth into Alex. It was as if it was my first life...
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Thu May 16, 2013 4:49 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:Here's a question that puzzles me a little. Is it logically necessary for consciousness to be immaterial in order for rebirth to take place?


If it is not immaterial but physical, then it could have been studied like any other physical phenomenon and follow physical laws. As I think right now, we could try to argue for rebirth in this way: "the information from the dying brain is transmitted to the body and brain that is being born".

However:
a) There is no proof for this transmission.
b) How is it done? What is the mechanism?

and

c) Childhood. There is this problem that I've written at the bottom paragraph of above post. There is nothing in the child's development that suggests that he is rebirth of someone. Child learns all skills, languages, memories, etc, a new. As if it is the first life. Rebirth happens from "both sides" (ex: at 1950 "birth" and at 2030, "death"). While speaking about the future has obvious problems, how about analyzing the past events that did occur?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kirk5a » Thu May 16, 2013 4:58 pm

Alex123 wrote:
kirk5a wrote:So you keep asserting. You don't have any proof one way or the other. Just assertions.


Read books on neurology for in depth analysis. Also I have given some links to studies about brain and mental functions.

You provided a couple links that show correlation between brain and mental functions. That is not news. Obviously the brain serves a purpose.
Fully relevant. It shows a fatal flaw in signal & radio argument. If the brain is responsible for how the "signal" is converted, then it is a necessary cause for
what sound will be played back. When rebirth occurs, the new brain will play this part. Not this mystical consciousness. So how can there be a multi-life development if the brain is such an important cause?

Huh? There's no fatal flaw there.
If the brain is one of the necessary causes for production of mental states and consciousness (other cause could be learned behavior stored in the brain), then when it is gone, so will be consciousness with all the skills.

In other words, if the brain is the productive cause of consciousness, then when the brain is gone, so is consciousness. But I am pointing out to you that simply assuming the brain is the productive cause of consciousness does not logically follow by mere observations of changes in mental behavior following on brain changes.
And there is no proof for mind, consciousness, memory, skills that are independent of the brain & body. If concrete memory and skills are stored in the brain, and cease when the brain ceases, then what about continuous multi-life development? How can it occur?

A deeper level of the mind, is the proposed explanation, where such explanations are given. For example, the bhavanga-sota or the ālayavijñāna.
When a person is born, how do we know that there was rebirth rather than first birth?
As it comes to rebirth, there are always TWO points when it occurs. It occurs after death (post-mortem) of this body which we cannot experience now, and it occurs at/before birth of this body (pre-natal). The latter can theoretically be experienced or at least can be remembered. However: When I (Alex) was born, I didn't come with developed positive or negative skills. I didn't come with knowledge of any languages, and there was nothing from which I could now infer that I inherited my past qualities from previous lives. Nothing to say about the lack of direct experience of rebirth into Alex. It was as if it was my first life...

That is the tabula rasa theory of infancy, which Buddhism disagrees with, as I pointed out.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Thu May 16, 2013 5:07 pm

kirk5a wrote:You provided a couple links that show correlation between brain and mental functions. That is not news. Obviously the brain serves a purpose.


modern experiments have demonstrated that the relation between brain and mind is much more than simple correlation. By damaging, or manipulating, specific areas of the brain repeatedly under controlled conditions (e.g. in monkeys) and reliably obtaining the same results in measures of mental state and abilities, neuroscientists have shown that the relation between damage to the brain and mental deterioration is likely causal. This conclusion is further supported by data from the effects of neuro-active chemicals (such as those affecting neurotransmitters)[80] on mental functions, but also from research on Neurostimulation (direct electrical stimulation of the brain, including Transcranial magnetic stimulation).[81] link


I guess if one wants, one can find those studies on monkeys and humans.

kirk5a wrote:But I am pointing out to you that simply assuming the brain is the productive cause of consciousness does not logically follow by mere observations of changes in mental behavior following on brain changes.


One can learn things from others and through thinking for oneself, and it alters some aspects of the brain's function. But if the memories, skills, etc, are stored in the brain, and if the brain dies, then how do these skills continue on to future birth? What sort of continuing development occurs from life to life?

That is the tabula rasa theory of infancy, which Buddhism disagrees with, as I pointed out.


In suttas they talk about sun rotating around the Earth. Should we believe that too?

Why does the infant behaves as if it is his/her first life? Where are all those accumulations from billions of lives in different situations? Why does the child has to learn all the skills as if s/he never knew them? On what basis can we say that it is continuation of a dead person?
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kirk5a » Thu May 16, 2013 5:37 pm

Alex123 wrote:
kirk5a wrote:You provided a couple links that show correlation between brain and mental functions. That is not news. Obviously the brain serves a purpose.


modern experiments have demonstrated that the relation between brain and mind is much more than simple correlation. By damaging, or manipulating, specific areas of the brain repeatedly under controlled conditions (e.g. in monkeys) and reliably obtaining the same results in measures of mental state and abilities, neuroscientists have shown that the relation between damage to the brain and mental deterioration is likely causal. This conclusion is further supported by data from the effects of neuro-active chemicals (such as those affecting neurotransmitters)[80] on mental functions, but also from research on Neurostimulation (direct electrical stimulation of the brain, including Transcranial magnetic stimulation).[81] link


Again, not news. Yes, damage to the brain causes mental deterioration. Doesn't prove that the brain is the productive cause of all consciousness.

I guess if one wants, one can find those studies on monkeys and humans.

kirk5a wrote:But I am pointing out to you that simply assuming the brain is the productive cause of consciousness does not logically follow by mere observations of changes in mental behavior following on brain changes.


One can learn things from others and through thinking for oneself, and it alters the brain's function. But if the memories, skills, etc, are stored in the brain, and if the brain dies, then how do these skills continue on to future birth? What sort of development occurs from life to life?

Who says all the top-level skills continue on to a future birth? I don't think anyone has to show that if you learn how to juggle in this life, you'll automatically know how in the next. The idea is one of a continuation of "underlying tendencies."
In suttas they talk about sun rotating around the Earth. Should we believe that too?

What's your point? Everything in the suttas has to be exactly true according to modern scientific understanding or else it is all suspect?
Why does the infant behaves as if it is his/her first life? Where are all those accumulations from billions of lives in different situations? Why does the child has to learn all the skills as if s/he never knew them? On what basis can we say that it is continuation of a dead person?

Simply looking at top-level skills and knowledge is not an objection to the Buddhist explanation of rebirth, where the emphasis is on the continuation of underlying tendencies.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Thu May 16, 2013 5:47 pm

kirk5a wrote:Again, not news. Yes, damage to the brain causes mental deterioration. Doesn't prove that the brain is the productive cause of all consciousness.


Prove that there is some sort of (consciousness, subconsciousness, ālayavijñāna, etc) that survives death.

kirk5a wrote:Who says all the top-level skills continue on to a future birth? I don't think anyone has to show that if you learn how to juggle in this life, you'll automatically know how in the next. The idea is one of a continuation of "underlying tendencies."


Prove that underlying tendencies continue from life to life.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kirk5a » Thu May 16, 2013 5:49 pm

Alex123 wrote:
kirk5a wrote:Again, not news. Yes, damage to the brain causes mental deterioration. Doesn't prove that the brain is the productive cause of all consciousness.


Prove that there is some sort of (consciousness, subconsciousness, ālayavijñāna, etc) that survives death.

kirk5a wrote:Who says all the top-level skills continue on to a future birth? I don't think anyone has to show that if you learn how to juggle in this life, you'll automatically know how in the next. The idea is one of a continuation of "underlying tendencies."


Prove that underlying tendencies continue from life to life.

I don't have to prove anything to you. I just wanted to show the giant hole in the logic the materialists are relying upon when they say the brain is the productive cause of all consciousness.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Thu May 16, 2013 6:19 pm

kirk5a wrote:I don't have to prove anything to you.


If you can't prove it, then what you say is a belief.

kirk5a wrote:I just wanted to show the giant hole in the logic the materialists are relying upon when they say the brain is the productive cause of all consciousness.


What hole? Just because you use a metaphor (and faulty one at that) it is not a disproof.

    neuroscientists have shown that the relation between damage to the brain and mental deterioration is likely causal."


If consciousness, mentality, whatever was somehow separate from the brain - I think that studies would suggest that. But they do not.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kirk5a » Thu May 16, 2013 7:00 pm

Alex123 wrote:
kirk5a wrote:I don't have to prove anything to you.


If you can't prove it, then what you say is a belief.

That doesn't follow. It is a belief, in my case, but what you just said isn't necessarily true. Some knowledge can't be proven to others, because it is only subjectively accessible.
kirk5a wrote:I just wanted to show the giant hole in the logic the materialists are relying upon when they say the brain is the productive cause of all consciousness.


What hole? Just because you use a metaphor (and faulty one at that) it is not a disproof.

It is a counterfactual to the methodology they are using to reach their conclusions. Since the conclusion that the radio is the cause of the signal would be false in that case, using the same methodology in the case of the brain may produce a similarly erroneous conclusion.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Thu May 16, 2013 7:15 pm

kirk5a wrote: Some knowledge can't be proven to others, because it is only subjectively accessible.


So, can we call it "subjective truth" then?


kirk5a wrote:It is a counterfactual to the methodology they are using to reach their conclusions. Since the conclusion that the radio is the cause of the signal would be false in that case, using the same methodology in the case of the brain may produce a similarly erroneous conclusion.


They are using evidence they have. If there was evidence of separate consciousness that doesn't originate through the brain, they would use it.

If we can explain behavior with less phenomena, then it is preferable to idea that includes extra phenomena. Dualism has serious problem of interaction, conservation of energy, and examples that I've wrote. If one-life-only is sufficient explanation for development of a person, then it would take some serious reasons why to assert multiple lives.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kirk5a » Thu May 16, 2013 7:30 pm

Alex123 wrote:
kirk5a wrote: Some knowledge can't be proven to others, because it is only subjectively accessible.


So, can we call it "subjective truth" then?

I suppose we could, but calling it that doesn't make it less true, or less legitimate knowledge, than truths which are subject to public demonstration.

kirk5a wrote:It is a counterfactual to the methodology they are using to reach their conclusions. Since the conclusion that the radio is the cause of the signal would be false in that case, using the same methodology in the case of the brain may produce a similarly erroneous conclusion.


They are using evidence they have. If there was evidence of separate consciousness that doesn't originate through the brain, they would use it.

They are abusing the evidence they have. Actually, by "they" I mean the followers of the church of scientism, rather than scientists themselves, who generally have to be more circumspect in their conclusions.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Thu May 16, 2013 7:32 pm

kirk5a wrote:They are abusing the evidence they have.


Prove it.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby kirk5a » Thu May 16, 2013 8:37 pm

Alex123 wrote:
kirk5a wrote:They are abusing the evidence they have.


Prove it.

I already explained the reasoning for my opinion. I didn't say I was going to "prove it."
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Alex123 » Thu May 16, 2013 9:23 pm

kirk5a wrote:
Alex123 wrote:
kirk5a wrote:They are abusing the evidence they have.


Prove it.

I already explained the reasoning for my opinion. I didn't say I was going to "prove it."


You didn't explain how they were abusing the evidence. Please prove your assertion that they are abusing the evidence that they have.

If the cause of mental states can be explained using biology, neurology, chemistry, etc then why add extra redundant phenomenon?
The burden of proof is on those who postulate redundant extra phenomenon, not because of evidence, but in order to support a certain belief. Kinda like new type of Creationists who can no longer resist the scientific advancement so they say: "yes, evolution happened like science tells us, but it was GOD who made evolution occur this way." In the same way some postulate some sort of root mind that is the cause of mental states despite there being evidence that it is the brain that causes them.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby 5heaps » Fri May 17, 2013 4:58 am

Alex123 wrote:While I don't want to say that I am 100% certain rebirth doesn't exist, the evidence we have is difficult to reconcile with teaching of literal rebirth.

its the exact opposite. believing that the hard problem of consciousness can be resolved through an explanation that something such as the experience of colour yellow can come from the spin of a particle or a collection of them requires great faith and no samadhi and logic in order to believe it.

this nonsense about the mind being conditioned by the brain etc is completely meaningless. external objects themselves condition the mind. whether it is cold or hot conditions the mind, so of course what is happening the in the body, to the sense powers, and to the brain condition the mind. it doesnt mean much, and it utterly does not establish that the brain produced the mind.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri May 17, 2013 11:51 am

binocular wrote:Most Buddhists probably start out as secular Buddhists.


I think it's difficult to generalise. It seems that some people start out being skeptical, while others become skeptical after a period of time - and it seems like these "born-again skeptics" are the most vociferous.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Nikaya35 » Fri May 17, 2013 2:21 pm

Alex123 wrote:
kirk5a wrote:They are abusing the evidence they have.


Prove it.

There isn't a way to prove this . I understand your position . There isn't any evidence to suggest so far in science that the mind is someway independent of the brain . Buddhism is a religion and the key doctrines of karma and rebirth are part of the Buddha teachings according to the nikayas . Faith in the Buddha teachings is a very important aspect for a progress in the path . Doubt about the Buddha teachings is one of the five hindrances after all . I know that there isn't any evidence so far about karma and rebirth . You are wasting your time reading the sutras and hanging on here in this site if the lack of evidence is a big issue to you . Why bother with Buddhism at all if death is the end ? Death would be the end of suffering anyways .
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