|Image credit: http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2011/mar/09/why-are-atoms-so-small|
I've been marvelling at the infinite nature of human consciousness (here and here, if you missed it), and the fact that our own "internal worlds" are immeasurably vast, and able to both represent and transcend the physical universe, in so many ways. The physical universe and our own biology certainly do place limits on us, and far more than I think we like to believe. There are many ways in which our behaviour and thinking can be seen as very much "biologically determined". I get that. And I know we are adept at inventing fictitious (or at least, semi-fictitious) explanations for our own motivations and actions, fooling even ourselves - so this really is a complex puzzle to tease apart.
However, as much as I pull and poke at my understanding of ourselves and our universe - I continue to see something infinitely larger than the sum of our atoms.
I'm having trouble pulling my thoughts together coherently on all this (a sure sign that I'm in over my head!), but here are the bits that make sense to me...
It seems to me, that even the most "basic" human being (if there even is such a thing!) Lives in a world coloured by ideas; imagination, fantasy, ideals, hopes, aspirations, world-view... the list goes on. Add to this the fact that even the "physical" realities of our world are experienced within our own consciousness - a kind of virtual representation, if you will - and our "internal worlds" contain all that we will ever experience.
In addition to the fact that all we are and know is contained within this nebulous construct we call "consciousness"; our internal worlds fly so far beyond the physical and biological, that I can only describe thinking about it as a "glimpse of eternity". Relationships, surely an aspect of our internal worlds that have very demonstrable links to our biology, are chosen and maintained according to social and ideological criteria. An exhilarating romance, for example, seems fuelled by fantasy, shared ideals and dreams and social game-playing, just as much as it is by basic biological instinct. In fact, romantic relationships based "purely"(!!) on sex, don't tend to last.
Now think about things such as philosophy, religion, literature and technology. Much as we are undeniably "biological" creatures, I don't believe our biology can account for all of this. Our intellectual worlds are incredibly complex and far-reaching, and much as some might say that our internal worlds are simply a powerful illusion, I would argue that this "illusion" is what drives our behaviour, our relationships, and our societies. Yes, basic greed, "territorial instincts", and other "animal instincts" colour our world in ways that mar our ideals and interfere with any "transcendent reality" we may aspire to. Yet the fact that we even have ideals, values and morals, speaks to me of something more than the physical. We look at the destruction caused by our unchecked impulses and seek answers. Even if what you define as "something more" is simply consciousness and intellect; it cannot be dismissed as illusory, when it has so much influence over behaviour, relationships and society as a whole. In fact, every major social change, every life-altering decision, probably started, not with a biological drive, but with an idea.
As we learn more about the science of how our minds and bodies work, understanding more of the biological platform out of which our conscious minds seem to arise, I don't think the mystery is lessened. Perhaps it is good to also remember that what we think of as "solid matter" really is not solid at all - and in light of this - if even our physical bodies are comprised of nothing but orbiting energy - what IS more real??