Saturday, June 21, 2014


The utterly daunting task of mapping out the connectome, the wiring of neurons connected by axons in your brain, is being undertaken in various research labs around the country.  This endeavor has been likened to the attempt to map the human genome.  Whole stretches of nucleotides of the DNA molecule were discovered to be coded for the recipes of amino acid molecules that make up the molecular protein machines that do most of the biological work of our bodies. Once the genetic code was worked out (as it turns out only one part of the code has been worked out.  Please see post Scrooge McDuck, Folding Nucleotides and 'Junk DNA'), then scientists were able to discover the observable ways in which the code was read and translated into amino acid chains and then folded and shaped and further manufactured into protein molecules.  In the same way scientists expect to discover some kind of code whereby either the neurons of the brain, the patterns of firing neurons, the placement of neurons, the electro-magnetic fields surrounding the firing neurons, the chemical deposits left by the firing neurons, the electron activity within microtubules within the neuron, at least some observable thing or some combination of observable things within the brain are translated into the sounds, and sights and smells and tastes and thoughts and memories and feelings and imaginings of consciousness.  Once such a code is discovered then the method whereby this code is translated is also expected to be discovered.  I don't think that is very likely.

Once it was discovered that nucleotides were coded, it then befell the scientific community to figure out how that code got translated, what the actual mechanics were, to transform a string of nucleotides into a string of amino acids.  And there was a lot to work with.  All of these discoveries coincided not so much with the growing wisdom of the scientific community, but with advances in optics and our ability to actual observe the previously unseen activities within and without the nucleus of cells.  There were portals and ducts and membranes and organelles that were just coming into focus and a myriad of seemingly highly ordered activities happening within these cells.  As it turns out, the main thrust of these activities was discovered to be the transcription and translation of genetic code into the formation of a chain of amino acids and the further folding and modification of that chain into a fully formed protein machine and the delivery of that protein machine to that part of the cell or that place in the body external to the cell where it was needed to perform the specific function that it had been designed for.

As I said, the diligent, patient, time consuming observation of these microbiological activities, was made possible along with the hard work and dedication of many, many scientists, by improvements in technology, in optics, which allowed these tiny, tiny structures to actually be observed and measured.  At this point, however, although optics continue to improve, we are way beyond the stage where we are discovering organelles or previously unseen structures.  We are discovering more and more of the details of these structures, but not new structures themselves. We know the basic structures of the brain and we are working on the details of these structures.  We will not find, however, new structures adjacent to the brain, new organs or organelles of translation as we found in the cytoplasm of the cell.  We can discover much about how the brain is organized and about the differences in human brains and the brains of other species.  We can discover the ways in which our perceptions are organized so that we have a human experience of the world and a dragonfly's perceptions are organized so that the dragonfly has a dragonfly experience of the world, and how each species' brain is organized so that each species experiences the world in a way that is unique to that species.  We can discover in the human brain where various types of thoughts and feelings and perceptions are processed, but we will never observe or measure or discover any organ or physical method of translation whereby this electrical activity or chemical activity or energy wave activity is translated into the experience of the sights of sunsets and the smells of roses and the tastes of salami and the touch sensations of flannel, and the morbid or optimistic or intellectually curious thoughts of our actual experience.  If you are in the business of observing and measuring, then electricity is the end of the line.

Electricity is also the beginning of the line.  When we desire to do something, the first observable indication of that desire is the firing of neurons that initiate a whole cascade of neural firings and muscular contractions and blood and energy shifts that allow us to do what we want to do.  But scientists must start with initiating neurons and not with the desires that initiate the firing of the initiating neurons.  Desire is the cause.  We call those neurons 'initiating' because we are limited to the observation of empirical phenomena.  The real cause, the cause that causes the firing of the initiating neurons is our desire, a non-empirical phenomena, which emanates from a non-empirical being, you In fact all behavior, human or otherwise, is caused by unobservable, non-empirical desires and results, initially, in the electric charging of initiating neurons followed by a cascade of biological activities which delivers the behavior that allows that being to fulfill or attempt to fulfill his desire.  Not just the initiation of behavior, but the initiation of all human creations, artistic, technological, industrial, political, all of it, was initiated by a being or a group of beings who 'wanted' that painting to be drawn, that machine to be invented, that constitution to be written, that symphony to be composed, and that building to be built.  It all starts with desire which leads to electricity which leads to everything else.

And what is it that we want when we behave or create or build or compose?  Yes, we want certain physical objects; we want a glass of water, an easy chair, a new car, a faster computer, a bigger house; but we don't want these objects just for themselves.  We want these objects for the experiences that we think they will provide for ourselves or for others.  We want a glass of water because we think it will quench our experience of thirst.  We want an easy chair because we think we will experience more comfort than we presently experience with a hard chair.  We believe that a new car will give us a more pleasurable experience than our old car.  The physical world, including our physical bodies, is the intermediary between non-physical desire and non-physical experience.  Through the means of observation and measurement, we can only get as far going backward toward desire as the electrical firing of initiating neurons and we can only get as far going forward toward experience as the firing of other brain neurons which are the result of a whole series of observable neural firings and connections, but which were first initiated by desire.

In studying the process of protein manufacture we discovered the genome.  Then we discovered the process of transcription where the desired code was transcribed onto a messenger mRna molecule.  We discovered how the message in the mRna was translated with the help of the ribosome and tRna molecules into a string of amino acids. And then we discovered how the amino acid string was folded and further shaped and transported to where it was needed with the help of other organelles, structures and observable processes.  But the connectome is electricity, and observable processes end in electricity.  The translation into consciousness is not done by any observable organ but by consciousness itself.

The more we study the connectome the more we will bump up against the mystery.  Just as the more we study the behavior of electrons the more we bump up against the mystery of quantam mechanics.  We are observing at the very outer edges of the physical universe.  We are confronted with the results of purpose and intention, both human and Divine.  We see those results in our ability to translate electric patterns into the infinite richness of consciousness; but it is really not our ability, ourselves, but Divine ability that does that translation for us.  We can't figure out how quantum mechanics works, but we know that it does work, that somehow things are being done just on the other side of the visible world that makes our visible, physical world function.  To say that this is God, the Cosmic Consciousness, the Divine, at work, that the quantum is a result of God's intention to have a consistent, recognizable, functional physical world for us to experience, is not to say that we understand it, because we cannot.  But it is to say that something, which is not really a thing, but some no-thing, which is very great, great beyond our understanding, is creating and organizing at every moment this world for us; is translating our every desire into the thoughts and behaviors that will allow us to satisfy those desires at every moment for us; and is translating those patterns of electricity at every moment into the infinite richness and variety and depth of consciousness that we are continually privileged to experience.

Past electricity and before electricity, we cannot say 'I understand how this is done,' but we can say 'I appreciate, I revere, that all of this is being done, and is being done for me.'

Please feel free to comment.  Thank you.