Discussion in 'Pseudoscience' started by pluto2, Mar 24, 2014.
How can biology and genetics explain reincarnation or life beyond or after death?
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It doesn't have to explain something that doesn't exist.
What a peculiar question!
Biology, of which genetics is a part, is a natural science.
It therefore makes no attempt to deal with untestable metaphysical or religious ideas, such as reincarnation or life after death.
But how do you know for sure that reincarnation doesn't exist?
One thing I learned is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.
If someday we are able to prove the existence of reincarnation or some other form of life beyond physical death I’ll be there cheering. And if someday we find the explanation for past life experiences and it’s something different I’ll be there cheering too.
But until then, lets admit there are things we don’t know and probably can’t know.
Well quantum mechanics tells us that.
But there's an important difference of principle between the observable physical world that natural science is concerned with and the realm of metaphysical or religious speculation. Reincarnation and life after death are squarely in the latter category and as such are not ideas on which natural science can be brought to bear.
Well, if those ideas have any factors which may bear on the physical world, then they could be tested. The efficacy of prayer, for example, could be scientifically tested:
Seems people disagree about it. The stuff about the Battle of Lepanto is interesting.
Of course, prayer is only one example. The accuracy of texts would be another. And these issues do not bear directly on reincarnation and life after death, but more on the sects which promote such ideas. Still, something could be done.
Save that "what the bleep do we know" for the woo woo crowd. There have been no proven past life experiences.
Sure, efficacy of prayer is quite a different case, as that involves a claim of ability to affect outcomes in the physical world.
But I can see no way, even in principle, that one could devise any test of life after death, seeing as that life is said to occur in a non-material form.
As to reincarnation, I presume any validation would need a currently living subject to say who he or she was the reincarnation of, and then one would have to find historical records that could substantiate details of that previous life that could not otherwise be known to the subject. Whilst it sounds possible in principle it would be impossible in practice, surely?
Reincarnation and life-after-death aren't part of natural reality as science conceives it, so there's no reason (or alternatively, no way) for natural science to explain them.
Countless things might exist that human beings know nothing about. But until there's some plausible objective evidence for them, there's no way for natural science to address them.
There is no such division in science. Science is not limited to the "natural". For instance, if we could show that a magic word always did a thing, that would be science proving a supernatural event.
I think you're right that any direct evidence of LAD would not be possible.
I suppose if people are keen to prove that reincarnation is possible then they are free to provide the kind of details you propose. Maybe the people here who support this idea can comment? I wouldn't spend my time, obviously....
Reincarnation was the template on which evolution and the genetic theories are unconsciously based. Life does indeed persist, but through genes from past, to present to future, just like in reincarnation. For example, children often reflect traits of the parents, which persist, even after the parents are gone. It is not uncommon, for some believers, to see an distant relatives appear to incarnate, within a new baby generations apart. Genes can do this to some extent.
Reincarnation is based on the cause and effect of Karma, while evolution calls this national selection. Reincarnation is more realistic in the sense, it take into account both the good and bad, while evolution tends to bias toward the good of selection. That could be connected to Christianity.
The genetic theory is closer to the Karma of reincarnation, since it is only about combining genes, therefore accounts for the possibilities of regressive traits by certain combinations. Although evolution does imply good slightly overcoming evil (bad) for positive/natural selection.
Evolution does not follow a logical timeline in terms of progression to advancing milestones and states. It is only about change. Reincarnation does the same thing with an incarnation able to change from human to insect and back to human, to reflect the randomness.
Reincarnation reaches it limits upon enlightenment, where the mind overcomes the body and culture. Evolution does a similar thing based on human civilization, where free will overcomes the inertia of genetic based instincts. Now we can even control the DNA and evolution.
No, because the magic word in your example "did a thing". If that "thing" were repeatably and objectively observed, it could be validated by natural science. And then we would have a new scientific phenomenon on our hands to try to explain.
By contrast, to assert "life after death", one asserts a state of being, experienced only by the subject, and without any means of influencing the physical world. That lack of influence on the physical world means there is no repeatable, objective observation that can be made. That lack is what I am saying rules it intrinsically out of scope for science.
(I see Yazata has made a similar point.)
Science theory is only as good as the tools of science, since these defines the limits of the data. If you could not see the DNA, like 100 years ago, it is hard to define all the parameters. Some can still speculate and infer, but even if true, this may not be acceptable without proof. The ancients had no modern tools, but they had the power of observation, and could to see relationship in the world around them. Their theory of reincarnation has the correct gist of modern evolution and genetic theory, but their details reflect the lack of modern tools and reflected speculation with the data they did have.
The type of data they would have, is connected to dynamics of the mind, consciousness and human nature. This type of data was plentiful, compared to the third person data of modern science, since first hand data could be generated by meditation, with a life of mediation needed to generate enough data to make it to enlightenment.
Enlightenment is a discipline of the mind requiring awareness of inner data connected to unconscious processes like instincts as well as like the collective sub-routines of the mass mind of culture. For them this consciousness environment of mass mind, impacted their personal evolution to enlightenment and they need to separate it out. If one was in the current of the mass mind, they could not escape but were in recycle mode.
One thing this parallel suggests, is if the ancients could infer the gist of evolution and genetic theory from only data of the mind, is the structure of the mind, based on the same repeat patterns found in genes and evolution? Picture a holographic slide. We can take a piece of the slide and the entire image appears in that small piece. Behavior is also connected to selection.
If there were no naturalistic explanation for the phenomenon, and it was triggered by a magic word, then it wouldn't be natural science, it would be supernatural science.
Proving life after death is problematic since there is no complete definition of life. If you accept that life requires a body, which is rational, then the death of the body is scientific proof that there is no life after death.
It doesn't. It doesn't have to. Those two concepts - real or no - are outside the sphere of biology.
A similar question but from the opposing magisterium is: how does reincarnation explain Mendelian Reassortment?
OK I see what you are saying, but in my book once you have repeatable physical observations you have a natural phenomenon, even if some call it magic. "Magic" would just mean you don't (yet?) understand how it works.
Re your second point, yes "life" after death is problematic in a number of ways, of which defining what is meant by it in the first place is one of the biggest. In many religions it is said to be life of a spirit, the idea being that the personal experience of consciousness can continue in a non-corporeal way. To me, that non-corporeal feature of it renders it unobservable and outside science.
Biology does not study the spiritual.We have nothing to do with it.
Uttering a "magic word" would seem to be an event in the objectively observable world that natural science is concerned with. And the event that (for the sake of argument) always follows the uttering of the word would be another such event.
I'm not convinced that science can "prove" the existence of a constant conjunction between the two. Certainly not in any deductive sense. We're confronted with the problem of induction.
The real problem arises when we ask natural science to provide a causal explanation for how and why the uttering of the magic word seemingly is invariably connected with a particular result.
I'll take a short detour here in order to define how I'm using the words 'nature' and 'natural'. "First, by 'nature' we mean everything that there is in the physical world of experience, very broadly construed. The universe and its contents, in short. To be natural is to be part of this world." (Oxford Guide to Philosophy p.643). If something is natural, then it's subject to study by the methods appropriate for studying the natural world.
So let's consider what lies between the uttering of the magic word and the result that it supposedly necessitates.
If the link between the two is something that can be studied by the scientific methods appropriate for studying the natural world, then 1. the connection would seem to be natural as opposed to supernatural, and 2. science would seem to be in a position (in principle at least) to provide an explanation for how it happens.
If the link between the two is something that by its nature can't be studied by the scientific methods appropriate for studying the natural world, then 1. the connection might arguably be supernatural as opposed to natural, and 2. science wouldn't be in any position to provide any scientific explanation for it.
We only have to show that there is a statistical connection between the two events, and that there is no other plausible natural explanation. We don't have to explain how or why.
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