Bhaktivedanta Institute Lectures

Conversations: Bhagavatam Astronomy

The extraordinary descriptions of the cosmos presented in the Bhagavata Purana tend to appear mythological to the sensibilities of a contemporary audience. But by utilizing the mathematical concept of “higher dimensions,” Thompson illustrates how geometric features attributed to Bhu-mandala can also offer an account of the solar system that corresponds surprisingly well with modern analyses.

Science Education in ISKCON

Thompson discusses a proposal for a science curriculum intended for an educational system sympathetic to the Vedic tradition. After briefly summarizing historical considerations involving the apparent conflict between science and religion, Thompson concludes that science may not be as intellectually comprehensive as sometimes proposed in simplistic popular accounts. He suggests that the label “true believer” commonly attached to religious thinkers can be applied just as readably to a variety of atheistic attitudes that often hide behind professional science.

UFOs and Krishna Consciousness

Thompson examinations Puranic accounts of 400,000 categories of human consciousness to help illustrate parallels with a variety of contemporary reports of apparent “close encounters.” Drawing upon his extensive study of literature pertaining to such events, Thompson proposes that these parallels could well be more than coincidental.

Bizarre and Far Out 2

Thompson draws upon concepts from the Vedic tradition to consider the research program of Ian Stevenson, the well-known University of Virginia psychiatrist who studied past-life regressions. In particular, Stevenson examined physical features and emotional experiences described by very young children. He claimed that much of his fieldwork appeared difficult to explain exclusively in terms of biological heredity and environment conditioning.

Bizarre and Far Out 1

From a socio-intellectual perspective, epistemological methodologies utilized by modern science can at times appear oddly similar to a number of the features of ancient scriptural traditions; for example, acquiring knowledge through a descending process which is then tested against experience. However, Thompson wonders if the natural limits of empiricism can impede useful inquiry into the human experience of paranormal phenomena.

Simulated Worlds Analogy

Thompson describes how advocates for artificial life view consciousness as the result of combinations of minute particles. He proposes that if we consider computer symbols as the “little parts” utilized to produce “simulated life” within nature, we can then regard nature as a vast parallel processor. Certain characteristics of this model, Thompson notes, bear a surprising resemblance to the Puranic concept of maya.

Mind and Brain: Q & A

Thompsons begins this San Diego State University presentation with a viewing of his “Mind and Brain” video, which elicits a number of provocative questions from the students. As a response, he offers an analysis of the complexity inherent to the mechanical function of the brain, which involves the interaction of billions of neurons identified with mental phenomena. He then uses the philosophical principle of Occam’s Razor for considering a dualistic approach to the mind-–brain dilemma.

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