This collection of topics, a brief view of life, could be used to teach an adolescent the basics about life.
Thinking is what the brain does when it is conscious, as the brain deals with signals from the various senses, compares them with patterns in the memory, thereby making decisions on behavior. When sleeping, the brain is unconscious, a time when the brain does some memory management as the body does its own maintenance processes. As confirmed with EEG, thinking is based in the brain's electrical activity. Other animals have also been monitored with EEG to find similar physical processes in their brains.
Since thinking can be done in the person's language, a mental conversation can be conducted, almost as if there is a person having this conversation within the brain. This thinking process can provide the illusion that there is a sensory wall (hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, touching). The brain remains physically connected to all the senses but the thinking process can be such through concentration some or all of the senses can be ignored, though subconsciously the brain can still recognize those sensory signals (like when caught in an intense conversation but still able to avoid walking into a wall).
This sensation of being separate from the senses apparently leads to the belief the consciousness is also somehow separate from the brain and body. This illusion leads to a number of religious beliefs, including the soul (found in a variety of religions, from modern to primitive) but also the belief that God creates this soul separate from the body, magically puts it in the body at conception (enabling that religion to attempt an interference with a mother's right to choose whether to deliver a fetus to term), and magically allows it to continue existence after death in some supernatural form and place.
Thinking also involves the analysis of the world, including how to capture what is sensed and how to analyze that information. One simple trick for analysis is recording events by time, to distinguish those events that occur before others. For example, a musician could play a melody with a violin. For someone to be able to replay that melody, notes are assigned for each moment in time in the form of musical notation. Of course when playing the violin there is a flow between notes, not where the musician somehow generates each note in succession as can be envisioned with a keyed instrument like a piano. The musical notation is an aid to the musician, a convention for how to play it.
The analysis can also include assigning a name to each possible separate event that can be determined within a process. This process of analysis can be compared to putting a grid of latitude and longitude lines on a globe. The lines are not really there but they enable an easier calculation of distances and relationships between places.
This thinking process leads to another religious concept, first cause. A time relationship can be useful when trying to find critical events in a process or sequence, to be called a cause and effect. Since the analysis of nature when done by time results in the observation something will occur before something else, therefore there must be an event that comes before all others, leading the claim that must have been God turning the switch or whatever phrase is used to claim the flow of nature needed something to begin its flow. Splitting anything by time does not mean it really has that split in nature. If a snake always comes out of its hole head first then that does not mean the head of the snake is the cause of its tail.
Thinking is not good or bad, it is just what the brain does, just like in other animals. The entity doing the thinking is not somehow detached from the brain. Any detachment is an illusion, not a perceived separation for what is called a soul.
References in Wikipedia: Brain activity, Sleep and memory
created - December 2011
last change - 12/18/2011
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