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18.4 Consequences of discreteness

One part of the well known ‘hard problem of consciousness’ is seeing how mental properties could ever arise within the physical world. The possibility of having distinct spaces for physical, mental and spiritual processes makes it very much easier to understand them from a scientific point of view.

It has been intuited that mental and spiritual processes are ‘not in space’. Wherever we look in space we never find thoughts or feelings. Now, however, we can acknowledge that mental substances are not in physical space but are in a space of their own. We have yet to determine the topology and metric of ‘mental space’ or even whether it has a fixed topology at all. Answering this question is one task of theistic science. We might surmise that mental topology is based on a metric of ‘similarity of function’ (of ideas), and that spiritual topology is based on a metric of ‘similarity of purpose’ (of loves). Both are therefore in spaces, defined by different metrics with different topologies. Mental spaces might therefore make what psychologists call ‘associative memory’, which is a simple and natural activity. Physical spaces are continuous metric spaces that are mostly independent of what events happen or what objects exist at various places.18.1 Mental topologies might be very different from physical topologies. They would then have quite different measures of similarity between different loves. Some kind of mental space is needed in order to distinguish multiple loves and/or ideas.

This discreteness of the realms implies a real and clear dualism between the physical and mental realms. Without knowledge of this discreteness, many thinkers have tried to characterize the mental-physical difference in other ways. Most of these other schemes end up with continuous gradation between the physical and the mental and not the discrete gradations we see in theism. They have also been used erroneously to characterize the relation of the earth to the realm of spirituality. These schemes have been many and various and have portrayed the difference as spatial (‘up in the sky’), as density (‘finer material’ or an ‘aether’), as frequency (‘higher vibrations’), as dimensionality (‘the fourth (or fifth) dimension’), as size (‘cosmic consciousness’), as a polarity, or as an intensity, etc., etc. I will discuss these different proposals at greater length in Section 23.2. Here the basic consideration from theism is that it is impossible to continuously transform what is physical to what is mental or spiritual.


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