Meg Lee Chin

Could the message in the story of Adam and Eve be one of anti-intellectualism with an appeal for developing intuition? Is it a metaphor for the transformation of man from an animal to a human state?

Cultural myths are handed down from generation to generation often by word of mouth. In the process the story is adapted, changed, morphed and filtered. As a result the collective wisdom of the culture is often assimilated into the story. Thus these myths may hold significant meaning for the society where they exist.

The rich symbolism within the Garden of Eden legend may shed light on man and his life on Earth. Adam and Eve were born into paradise. After eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil they became self conscious and experienced shame. As a result they were banished from paradise.

I believe this symbolizes the development of the neo-cortex in our brains. At this point we mutated from being animals living in the paradise of ignorant bliss to creatures burdened with the ability to think abstractly. In other words, it may be the birth of what Freud calls the "ego" or self consciousness.

While observing a distressed duck being chased by a swan, I noticed that as soon as the swan ceased chasing, the duck reverted back to swimming. It was as if nothing had happened. Were this duck to have been human, he would no doubt build fortresses and organize neighborhood watches. He would then form armies and build tanks. Thus he would live in a state of perpetual insecurity even in the absence of a direct threat.

The development of the neo-cortex in animals varies along a continuum. Scientists use a mirror test to check for self-consciousness. Those flunking the mirror test tend to live in the here and now. They do not ruminate about the past nor worry about the future. They are only unhappy when they are directly experiencing pain. Once the pain disappears, they immediately revert back to normal. As this state of distress usually only occupies a small fraction of their lives, they are able to spend most of it in "paradise". Negative experiences do not remain in conscious memory. Instead they are assimilated as a species instinct.

So could it be that this ability we humans have to think abstractly is at the root of our unhappiness? Modern science seems to confirm this with the new wave in "Positive Psychology" which advocates a practice called "mindfulness". This is a technique borrowed from Zen Buddhism. To be mindful is to live life in the here and now. In other words, to adopt an innocent animal-like state of mind.

Mindfulness techniques are currently being used to deal with so called "personality disorders". So far the results are compelling. Mindfulness often works where other therapies such as psychoanalysis has failed. Treatment for the 'untreatable' By SADIE F. DINGFELDER Monitor Staff March 2004, Vol 35, No. 3 Print version: page 46Changing Your Brain Using Compassion-based Mindfulness Published on November 12, 2013 by Randi Kreger in Stop Walking on Eggshells It seems that mindfulness really can make you happier.

Further shedding light upon the Garden of Eden story is the work of psychologist Julian Jaynes. In his theory of Bicameralism, Jaynes contends that human brain functions were once divided. One part of the brain appeared to be "speaking" while the other part listened and obeyed—a bicameral mind. Jaynes believes that this may have been the normal state of the human brain as recently as 3000 years ago.

According to Jaynes, ancient people would have experienced the world in a manner similar to that of a schizophrenic. The person would hallucinate a voice or "god" giving admonitory advice or commands and obey without question. He would not be conscious of his own thought processes. Research into "command hallucinations" that often direct the behavior of those labeled schizophrenic supports Jaynes's predictions. Erkwoh, R. et al. (2002). "Command Hallucinations: Who Obeys and Who Resists When?". Psychopathology 35. Could this bicameral mind have been the mechanism by which Adam and Eve spoke to their God?

Similar to Jaynes bicameralism, Edgar Cayce believed that some animals possess a shared "species consciousness". This is what allows birds to fly in formation, bees to act as a hive and ants to work in coordinated unison.

Could it be that Cayce's species consciousness, Freud's unconscious and the "God" of the bicameral mind are all the same? Are there advantages to being able to access this latent consciousness?

In our modern world those of high academic achievement and scientific intelligence are respected and revered. But all too often these high achievers can be lacking in common sense or instinct.

My sister graduated from school with a C average. I got A's. In making big decisions she chooses quickly, relying on instinct. In contrast I pore thoroughly over data, making calculations and analyzing the possibilities. Sis is right more often than I.

The answer to why my sister often makes better decisions may be reflected in the results of the Ganzfeld Experiment tests for telepathy undertaken by Daryl J Bem and Charles Honorton. In these tests members of the high IQ society Mensa scored below average. American Psychological Association 1994 Vol. 115 No. 1 4-18 Does Psi exist? Replicable evidence for an Anomalous Process of Information Transfer by Daryl J. Bem and Charles Honorton. Daryl J. Bem, J 1996 Ganzfeld Phenomena Cornell University This appears to suggest that sometimes academic intelligence can get in the way of instinct and intuition.

Conversely students of Julliard School of Music scored above average for tests for psi ability. This would seem to suggest a connection between creative and psychic ability. Perhaps the two abilities originate from the same place? From within the nebulous and dreamy place of the unconscious, the spark of inspiration may reside. It may be that the "God" within us is the driving force behind creativity in all it's forms whether it be imagery, art, music or otherwise. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research Vol 86 April 1992, No. 2 Ganzfeld Psi Performance within an Artistically Gifted Population.

Are we in danger of tipping the balance away from our natural instincts toward our acquired intellect? According to legend Lucifer brought humankind the light of knowledge. But in doing so he may have robbed us of paradise and condemned us to a lifetime of psychological torture... and we call animals dumb!

However there may be an antidote to the burden of our self consciousness. The bible continually emphasizes the need for faith and prayer. It's almost as if this takes precedence over being good. Why would belief and prayer play such a vital role? Could it be that faith and prayer allow us to tap into this latent consciousness of our "God"?

Dr. Michael Persinger is a cognitive neuroscience researcher and university professor who experimented with stimulating people's temporal lobes artificially with a weak magnetic field. By doing this he was able to produce religious experiences in some people. The results depended heavily on the subjects personality characteristics and suggestibility. The well known atheist Richard Dawkins underwent testing and did not have a religious experience.

Though atheists will argue that these tests prove religious experience to be merely a trick of the mind, I would say the opposite. I think these experiments show that the very act of belief or faith alters the patterns of your brain to allow for religious inspiration. Thus faith and prayer are the link to our missing "God".

So is the message of the Garden of Eden one of anti-intellectualism and a call to develop your intuitive sense? Freud revealed the existence of the subconscious. However he failed to explain the source of its material. To date modern science has not explained consciousness and more importantly has been unable to recreate it.

My guess is that hardened atheists such as Richard Dawkins would be wise to listen to what the ancients are telling us. Likewise some of the intellectual giants of the academia could use a bit of modesty in the face of the ordinary man with his humble intuition.

The day Richard Dawkins builds a machine which is both conscious of itself and a creative artist in the truest sense of the word, is the day I will accept his strictly mechanistic view of life on Earth. Until then I will not rely solely on academic and scientific knowledge and will continue to look deeper for the source of my inspiration.