As a philosophy major in college, I eagerly embraced atheism. Well, not eagerly. In fact, as a teenager, I devoured fantasy novels and was depressed at the notion that there was no magic in the real world. Yet, I valued honesty above all else and atheism seemed honest to me.
Over a decade later, I had an epiphane: Atheism was NOT the product of logical reason or belief. Theism was the natural extension of logic.
My reasoning went as such: From the shape of a loaf of bread, you can tell the shape of the pan in which the bread was baked. All things are a reflection of the things that surround them and shape them. Humanity was shaped by the universe and we are a reflection of the universe. In this sense, I use "universe" to embody all forces that surround and impact our evolution.
This led me to deduce the Rule of Similarities. Basically, the self is similar to the non-self. Because the self was shaped by the non-self. Everything that is not the self in the universe is like the pan and the self is like the loaf of bread. The characteristics of the self necessarily reflect characteristics of the non-self.
One characteristic of the self is consciousness. From my Rule of Similarities, I deduce that the universe is conscious because otherwise I would not be conscious. My consciousness is necessarily a reflection of the universal consciousness.
Once you get to this point and understand it (or at least are open to it as a possibility), you will suddenly see a lot of wisdom further supporting this position. For example, the adage, "there is nothing new under the sun." In fact, science is continuing to reaffirm the notion that there is conservation of matter and energy in the universe. How, then, can we possibly conclude that consciousness is new, is not similarly eternal?
Okay, for those skeptics, let's back up. I do NOT insist on this Rule of Similarities as a truth. I personally believe it, but for other reasons and personal experiences which help bolster my belief. Had I read this blog when I was an atheist, I doubt it alone would have convinced me to believe in a universal higher consciousness. However, bear in mind that I'm not trying to convince you to believe in a universal consciousness. I'm merely trying to make you realize that belief in the NON-existence of a universal higher consciousness is NOT the natural extension of reason or logic.
The illogic of atheism is that it (atheism) is derived from an illogical rule. It is clear not derived from the Rule of Similarities. What rule leads to embracing atheism? It derives from what I will call the Rule of Naught. This I summarize as follows: Nothing exists which has not been proven to exist. So, by that rule, aliens do not exist because they have not been proven to exist. But, wait! Plenty of atheists believe in aliens! Why? Because, they say, in such a vast universe, it is likely other planets like ours exist that also can give rise to evolving, intelligent life. Hold on...what is their reasoning... Does it sound at all like something you might derive from the Rule of Similarities?
That's right, in most aspects of science, removed from pondering God, scientists do NOT embrace the Rule of Naught. Believing a thing does not exist requires as much proof as believing it does exist. It is NOT scientific or logical to believe God does not exist in the absence of proof.
Now, in addition to other things, I am a pragmatist. Let's assume we reject the Rule of Naught, and so we reject atheism, but we are not yet sold on the Rule of Similarities, so we instead lean towards agnosticism (i.e., I don't know or maybe the whole thing is unknowable). The Rule of Similarities is not a hard fast rule. You do not have to agree that all things are similar to all other things in all ways. Things have similarities and things have differences. However, the real value of the Rule of Similarities is to give us a starting point in the absence of proof one way or the other.
To digress, I would point out that in the American court of criminal law, we have a define the starting point thusly: Innocent until proven guilty. Some may misinterpret this as an application of the Rule of Naught, or even as an illustration of the wisdom of the Rule of Naught in practice. That it is wise to have a rule that there has not been a crime until there is proof of a crim. In fact, this is actually an application of the Rule of Similarities. Law-abiding jurors assume the accused is like them --law-abiding --until and unless it is proven otherwise. Thus, if you are on the jury, you assume the accused person is innocent of the crime (just like you are innocent of the crime) until something else is proven. The wisdom of this application of the Rule of Similarities in court systems through thousands of years of judicial evolution should reinforce its merit in our minds (if it works, don't fix it; the proof is in the pudding; etc.).
Sometimes, you will want to know how to act in the absence of certainty about what something is like, what it's characteristics are like. In those situations, what do you do? You EXTRAPOLATE THE UNKNOWN FROM THE KNOWN. This is the Rule of Similarities in action. The Rule of Similarities is just another name for inductive logic which, while not as perfectly consistent as deductive logic, is nevertheless better than nothing.
So, in the absence of certainty as to what, if any, God or Universal Consciousness may exist (or not exist), the Rule of Similarities (or inductive logic, if you prefer) dictates that we extrapolate that the universe is like the self, a collection of liquids, solids and gas (or particles and space, or mass and energy, or forms and waves) the sum of which parts give rise to some conscious awareness. Until we have some proof (or even evidence) to the contrary, the logical and reasoned mind should lean towards belief in a universal consciousness as most likely true. This does not PROVE the existence of a higher consciousness, and it does not DISPROVE atheism. It is not meant to. It is meant to distill what is most reasonable to believe based on what we humans perceive and understand about the universe (and without getting into the complex physic and such which, to my limited understanding, seems to reinforce my own view of consciousness, and maybe yours, too).
For those who remain skeptical (and I like skeptical, so good on you if you are one of those), I hope you can at least acknowledge that my reasoning make sense, and supports embracing a QUALIFIED assumption that a higher consciousness exists. The qualification, of course, is that nothing is yet affirmatively proven, we do not yet have God under a microscope (that we know of) and as we evolve our thinking and undertanding of the universe, we may modify this belief. So, I ask atheists who base their position on REASON to instead replaced that with a QUALIFIED SPIRITUALISM, so you can be working with the more reasonable and likely starting point, that there is a higher consciousness, in your endeavors where this starting assumption might be relevant. This will avoid you making errors because you have incorrectly tainted your endeavors with the false (or at least less likely and less supportable) assumption that there is no higher consciousnss.
At the risk of going to far an alienating those who might be open to this notion, if you stick with it, I think (but you are free to reject this if you so choose) you may actually come to realize that consciousness exists on many levels outside the human mind, both on lower and higher levels. This can happen with a sports team, at a family gathering, with friends, at a concert, in a board meeting (yes, corporations can literally have a consciousness, or meta-consciousnss if you prefer). We do not directly interact with those consciousnesses, so we do not perceive them, but that does not make them any less real (well, the less we perceive them, the less they are part of our subjective reality, so if you call that reality, then they may be less real to you).
Carried to its logical extension, there is a meta-consciousness that thinks of itself as Coca-Cola. And it wants to live and grow. And it probably hates Pepsi. And there is a whole level of drama and romance and intrigue that is going on over our heads in the meta-consciousnesses of corporations and governments and organizations and associations and really any kind of groups. I think some individual members of these groups may be aware of this and may be able to tap into the higher consciousnesses, at least for some while. I think that feeling of connecting to a higher consciousness is a heady feeling that people crave. This is part of why people are drawn to family reunions, concerts, etc.
Why would people want to watch a movie in a theatre rather than in their comfortable living room? Now that you can get quality sound and picture at home, without the expense and hassle and limited snacks and selection at the movie theatre, why go? Why are movie theatres NOT all going bankrupt now that home entertainment options have surpassed what they offer? Because gathering with a large group of people to see and experience the same thing, simultaneously, connects us into a form of meta-consciousness that, in some deep way (generally unrecognized) makes us aware we are part of something eternal, which suggests that death is not the end, and so it comforts and energizes us.
What is the common thread here on when consciousness arises? I guess this may be akin to the "chicken / egg" question. However, I think that whenever minds come together for common purpose, striving with the same will, their wills unite and create a larger consciousness. Sports fans tap into this; it is part (if not the whole) of the appeal of the sports fan mentality. They are tapping into a group-think, a higher consciousness that reaffirms the spirit and connection of all things. Yes, the NFL, NBA and NASCAR are next to Godliness in that they connect us to a higher consciousness.
Concert goers know this, too, and reach heights of ascension communing to a musical theme, "sharing the ride" that leaves them feeling connected and renewed by the affirmance of that connection.
When it comes down to it, you cannot NOT see higher consciousnesses (say that five times fast) forming all around you, if you are open to the possibility that they exist. Does thinking that Santa Claus might exist make little children see him? No. So it is not a trick. It is not brain washing. I you agree something is possible, and then you see proof, that is not a false proof, it is not tainted, it is not brain washing. Admit that this is possible and then wait to see the proof, because it will happen. When you decide to admit, "the existence of higher levels of consciousness is possible, and may make sense," then the proof will come to you over and over and over again until you are a believer. So I don't try to prove the universal consciousness, I just try to undo any false assumptions you may have that are blinding you to this truth. And if you already see this truth, bravo, and thanks for reading.
And since I do say this is an evolving concept, a qualified spiritual system capable of being modified as future discoveries may warrant, I'm open to criticism or suggestion, or even proof of being wrong. If I'm proven wrong, then I've learned something and I will thank you. I have no ego in the truth, as I did not create it. I'm just sickened by how many people seem to think honesty is a sin, or fear it leads to gloom and doom and hopelessness, that pragmatism and realism must lead to the conclusion that life is meaningless and death is the end, so lets cling to our happy lies and enjoy life while we can. That sort of practical irrationality, which has seemingly infected much of the world's population, is actually perhaps the greatest hindrance to people being able to set aside their differences, embrace their commonalities and reach world peace. Or at least that's my present belief-in-progress.