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THE FUTURE OF CONSCIOUSNESS
By CLEM STEIN
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Clem Stein
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIN THE BEGINNING
HAL MUSED THAT IF YOU JUST looked, you certainly could see the end of lifestyle reward systems (LRS) coming. It was all so obvious that a glance would have sufficed. You really didn't have to look very far. A good example was in Europe, specifically France. There, the Church had simply given their buildings to the government because the cost of the upkeep was beyond their ability to maintain. Over a thousand years after laying the cornerstone of Notre Dame in Paris, the last pope cleaned out the treasury, sold as many assets as he could, did a fraudulent initial public offering (IPO) using the remaining real estate, left for somewhere, and couldn't be found at the time of this writing. The buildings were falling apart and empty anyway. Very few people were showing up, and those who did came there to wonder at the lack of intellect and the gullibility of the people who, in the past, believed the unsupportable teachings hallowed in those halls.
This was also true for any lifestyle reward system that was over a thousand years old. After studying these systems and the current behavior of the world's population, Hal determined that with the exception of a few illiterates in back-road cloisters and high-mountain Himalayan enclaves, people had finally come to grips with the fact that they weren't afraid of dying. They understood now that there was not a soul, a hell, or a heaven, but just a loss of self-consciousness. This intellectual realization, however, did not take away the longing to be immortal, which, of course, religions, philosophies, and LRS had catered to since almost the dawn of time.
Hal thought that perhaps this transition of beliefs had begun back in the early 2000s, when science had figured out how to replicate and produce basic DNA, the building block of all life. Scientists figured out how to do this in much the same way that nature had by constructing the double helix from the chemical soup that had been deposited on the earth 3 billion years earlier from serendipitous collisions with planetoids and meteors that had started life off after a big bang.
All of the prior lifestyle value and reward systems, codes of conduct, and world rules that were based on ascended men, virginal women, holy cows, wise men, sitting fat statues. examples, self-examination, red robes, seventy-two virgins if you were good, mechanical prayer wheels, planet worship, and solar-centered beliefs, had finally been proven to have no real basis. In fact, it was widely accepted that all of those philosophies, as practiced by their ardent followers, and their insistence on their beliefs being the only right ones, had created most of the problems that kept people killing each other for man's entire history.
What it had all boiled down to was the control of real estate and the world's wealth by the few, for the desecration of the many. How mankind could have been so ignorant and blind for so long now seemed to be incomprehensible even to the masses.
HAL HAD TAKEN A LOT OF undergraduate science history and religious history courses. He had really tried to wrap himself around the pretext of most of the LRS. He had taken time off from "hard" science to gain a deeper insight into what he feared was adding ammunition to armory that would further destroy faith—in anything. However, with the passing of the popularity of the lifestyle reward systems (better known as religions) as the opiate of the masses, a substitute system and then an industry grew up to deal with the inevitability of every man.
The gap—created by the lack of a promised land, rewards for living a "good life" (or a life after death)—had to be filled! People realized that all that had come before was nonsense; however, it was nonsense that allowed them to avoid thinking about the fact that someday, in the not-too-distant future, they would no longer have self-awareness and be conscious. They would no longer exist.
The realization that they would no longer exist drove some humans to the brink of sanity and some over the brink. It simply was unthinkable that after thousands of years of being told that it was going to be okay—that if you were a nice, kind person and followed any religion's template for the rules of living your life you would have some kind of reward and existence after your body gave up and died.
When life was hard, when existence was chancy, when microbes and bacteria could end it all in the blink of an eye, the believed comfort supposedly generated by LRS made some kind of sense. Now, in 2312, man had progressed to a life span of 250 years and more. Food, energy, and comfort were universally available. LRS just weren't needed anymore.
But something was needed to fill the comfort void, the black hole in the psyche of man. Lots of things had been tried, but they all seemed to just put Band-Aids on the problem. It was still difficult to get people to face the inevitable. So how do you eliminate ignorance? Right, with education.
A new movement started to help man deal with the inevitable fact that he was going to die. If you think about it, it is hilarious that when death takes a family member, there is calamity and people are stunned. Some people are even incredulous at the obvious. Death is even looked on as a catastrophe. People display their despair, and wailing and crying take over what was left of reason and sanity. The only important and undeniable inevitability is man's death, and yet he had no philosophy for this inevitability. Religions and cults denied death by offering hope of life after death and packaged this message in organized movements. However, if you remove the fear of death and the fear generated by guilt in LRS, you will still have the fact that death is inevitable.
What was becoming apparent and brought some peace of mind was the extension of longevity. What came with long life was a surprising realization that had been known but ignored for centuries, and it was this: Most people just get tired of living. At an informal dinner one evening at the Montana Scientific Mountain office, Hal got into a discussion that led to a group conclusion that many thoughtful people, after living for 250 or more years, just want to quit. They had "been there and done that," seen that before, and didn't want to change anymore. They were sick and tired of the same old thing, and even the intellectually unique and gifted just said "enough."
This realization was rapturous. It did not involve faith. It was much deeper than that. It was profound. This realization compensated for a life of sadness and struggle that only had a glimpse of ecstasy.
A STUMBLING STEP
"SAM, DO YOU REMEMBER CARL SAGAN?"
Hal repeated, "Carl Sagan! You know, he hosted a science TV show on NPR that explored the galaxy way back in the late 1900s.
"Oh yeah, don't we have copies of his program in the science history files?"
Hal thought for a moment and said, "Oh, I'm sure they are there somewhere."
Sagan had taken an interesting interim step. Back in the twentieth century he was so bright and outside the box that he ended up on national public television. The program he hosted earned fantastic ratings because it explored the galaxy. Well, kind of. It was televised from a spaceship stage set. All the Trekkies and science fiction fans could gather around their TV sets and watch as this brilliant man, who looked just like you and me, talked about the universe in everyday terms and words.
Then something happened to Dr. Carl Sagan, something that took the wind out of his sails and put his star drive in neutral. All of a sudden it made this man look at what he was doing. He was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He went from being a young, brilliant, wealthy, good-looking television celebrity to someone who had, at the most, two years to live. In the twentieth century, you were only as good as your last show, and if you created a problem, you were finished.
Dr. Sagan, one of the great communicating minds of the twentieth century, tried to come to grips with the fact that in about 1,036,800 minutes, 17,280 hours, 720 days, or 24 months, he would no longer exist. So to keep his sanity, and to bring him some piece of mind, he started a quest to prove that there was a God and life after death. Because of who he was and where he was, he was able to apply to this search all of the scientific tools of the time.
There could be no questioning his motivation, his scientific dedication, and his one-mindedness. He was going to be gone in twenty-four months. He really wanted to know where he was going to end up and what was ahead. He used every-avenue and tool that his elevated position gave him. He worked 24-7 for two years until he dropped dead at age sixty-two.
One of his final statements was: "After everything I have done, after all of my research, after my complete focus on this task, I can find no scientific evidence of life after death, or a god." Then he died. That may have been the start of the end of the relevance of LRS. That utterance, however, still left the problem that everyone has to face. It was not the last word on the subject by any chance, and it really did kick off a movement that was covertly financed and encouraged by most of the major lifestyle reward system's organizations, the religions of the world. At first Hal was very unhappy with Sagan's conclusion, but he just couldn't seem to argue with it. However, it was being tossed around that everyone had a "personal God" in those days and maybe Sagan just couldn't locate his! People who followed this story in the twentieth century all mostly looked for other reasons to ignore his findings or just flipped off the TV.
The basic premise of that movement was kind of a throwback to the idea of ultimate control and a complete lack of—you should pardon the pun—"faith" in man. Man was no good at all and was basically a raging monster held in control by the fear of ultimate punishment and a "hell" for the bad guys and a "heaven" for the good guys.
In reaction, religious people wrote books and made films, some of which were semi-documentaries that explored the concept of a dead God. Many religions, hysterically, felt that if God was dead, it would be the end of the world. They proclaimed that all societies—whether they worshipped cows, profits, or statues, or they gave some credence to a life after death—would simply fall apart. They said that, in ninety days, law and order would break down, there would be a loss of the worldwide power grid, and then water would stop flowing from the pipes in your home. Believe it or not, people wrote serious books on this subject, which were published and made the best-seller lists. One of the more entertaining efforts was by Ron Currie, Jr., titled so originally God Is Dead. One of the funnier parts of this book is a chapter about God as a dog where the author attributes some feeling of guilt to LRS for having "taken the world population's meager belongings in exchange for lies, however well-intentioned those lies were."
What religions wouldn't face was the fact that they were simply transient. Organized religions were forgetting that they had only been around for a few thousand years—a blink of the eternal eye, so to speak—and while men in the beginning used to knock each other over the heads and take what they wanted, they soon learned that the guy with the biggest club didn't always get what he was after. The slow process of learning to get along so that you could get what you wanted became apparent to the survivors.
Cataclysmic action movies had no effect on the population except to set new box office records and produce terrible sequels to the original movies as the directors tried to top each other with stunts and computer-generated special effects. It was becoming obvious that the fear of death still existed, but that was really as far as it went. It was just like so many other situations. People knew that if they became fat and ruined their lungs by smoking, they were dead. They knew that but couldn't, wouldn't, or didn't want to change. Okay, so God was dead. They would deal with that later.
Religious people attempted to raise these thoughts in the consciousness of the masses. The messages were subtle and spongy and didn't deal with a dead God but just an end to the world. Films, like On the Beach with Fred Astaire, from the 1960s dealt with it by putting the end of the world in the hands of man because of the fallout from a nuclear war. The film ends with the cessation of all human life but leaves a warning by saying that there was still time.
We all now know that there is no way to prove or disprove that there ever has been spiritual or mystical life after death. At least there hasn't been life like we would want it to be. All it has ever been is an argument about semantics and definitions.
Another great mind of the twentieth century almost sparked a trend. When Albert Einstein died in 1955, within seven hours of his death, his brain had been removed and preserved for study. Whether his brain was removed with his permission is still a matter of conjecture. In any case, this man was one of the foremost geniuses of the twentieth century. You know E = mc2.
Einstein's brain was removed and chopped up into pieces, sliced like a good Italian air-dried ham, and studied by anyone who could get their hands on a slice. Before it was chopped up into pieces, it was photographed and measured, and it was found to have smaller regions than most other people in the area of the brain that took care of speech and language skills, but it had larger areas that dealt with spatial and numerical issues. How much of a surprise was that?
The fellow who was doing the research was relieved from his medical position at Princeton. In 1980, Berkeley Professor Marian Diamond got Tom Harvey, the keeper of Einstein's grey matter, to give her samples of Einstein's brain. She discovered that Einstein's brain had more glial cells per neurons than most other brains she had studied. Glial cells provide support and nutrition in the brain from myelin and participate in signal transmission. That was a very important bit of information for Hal as he considered how he would keep the new big brain (BB) alive and well and what to look for in approaching signal transmission.
THE POWER OF ELECTRICITY
IT WAS PROVEN A LONG TIME ago in the 1960s that a small electrical charge or electrical field leaves your body when you die. But it is just a moment, and, at least until now, it has not been digitally readable.
Some religious cults preached that your personal codes were digitalized within this field as it left your body and the world forever, and it also contained your consciousness. This charge went out of you to join with a massive spiritual and universal consciousness that would recycle you. This was how you would live again. You would be reincarnated. Some cults believed and taught that there was a slight possibility that you may have some recollection of your prior existence. This was all very powerful stuff, and some very far-thinking socially aware business opportunists came up with a terrific moneymaking plan.
And that was how and why they built the "passing-on palaces" where, if you had enough money, you went to die. It was an exclusive club. It was based not just on your wealth, but supposedly there were other criteria.
But let's be frank. Money seems to get you a place in line. The perceptive technology to detect, grasp, and record your essence as it left your body in the form of a minute electrical charge grew out of a lot of space science and medical research. It was all integrated, adapted, and wired together by some very bright science and business types, like Steve Jobs of Apple, a pioneering computer company in the twentieth century.
These people, for the most part, believed in what they were doing. When they passed on, they had their electric body charge recorded, just in case it was going to work. By the way, getting your electrical charge digitalized was one of the benefits given to employees of the company, along with the use of the company health spa and lunchroom.
When you died in a "palace," they used their technical know-how and trapped your minute electrical field as it left your body. The electrical field would be digitalized and encoded on a silicon chip. The plan was that your chip would then be stored—for a fee, of course—until sometime in the future when the priests of their cult, perhaps, would figure out how to read the chip and bring back your memories and consciousness. You would be living again, or at least your consciousness would be. (Make sure you read all the fine print on the disclosures of the passing-on palace's contract.) Like all other contracts and fine print, nothing was guaranteed except that they would cash your check and do the best they could to increase your net worth, which you had to deed to them as part of the contract to safeguard your chip.
Excerpted from THE FUTURE OF CONSCIOUSNESS by CLEM STEIN Copyright © 2011 by Clem Stein. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
1. In the Beginning....................1
3. A Stumbling Step....................9
4. The Power of Electricity....................15
5. I'd Like Two of Me, Please....................19
6. Here's Woofie!....................23
7. I Ain't Got No Body....................27
8. Lifestyle Reward Systems....................31
9. It's For Your Own Good....................35
10. Progress Is Our Most Important Product....................39
11. Where Do Answers Come From?....................43
13. Are You Just a Computer?....................53
14. Will This Make My Head Hurt?....................59
15. This Makes My Head Hurt....................63
16. A Crap Shoot....................67
17. Men Are Not from Mars....................69
18. Keep Me in the Loop....................73
19. Remember Me?....................75
20. From PBX to Neurotheology....................79
21. Please Listen....................83
22. A Big Mistake Was About to Happen....................85