Monday, August 29, 2016

Dreaming and dual consciousness

It's interesting to consider illustrations for the Incarnation. Let me say at the outset that I don't use "mystery" and "paradox" as synonyms. A paradox is a particular kind of relation: an apparent contradiction. I often mention things that are paradoxical at first glance, but consistent if you think about it more deeply. 

Although a paradox may be mysterious, a mystery needn't be paradoxical. Something can be mysterious without seeming to be contradictory. I think the Trinity and the Incarnation are mysterious, but not paradoxical. 

Unitarians scoff at "mystery". And from their standpoint, that makes sense. For instance, the unitarian gosling of Dale Tuggy is basically a human being with superhero powers. A very anthropomorphic god like Zeus. A god of finite knowledge. A god who exists in time. Naturally there's nothing mysterious about a god like that! It's all too human. A difference of degree rather than kind. 

By contrast, the God of Christian theism has a mind of infinite complexity. By the same token, his intentions are nearly infinite, when you consider the number of intended events, and how one event is coordinated with another. 

Any God worthy of the name is going to be mysterious. The average adult can understand a math problem that the average child cannot. A math teacher can understand a math problem that the average adult cannot. A math genius can understand a math problem that the average math teacher cannot. Yet even those are finite differences. 

Because the Incarnation is unique, there are no direct parallels in human experience. But we can explore analogies. Here's one I thought about recently. Consider a lucid dream. Dreams are the product of the subconscious. When dreaming, the dreamer is normally unaware of the fact that it's a dream. But on rare occasions, the dreamer becomes lucid. 

At that point the same person has two different, interrelated, and simultaneous mental states. The dreamer becomes conscious, or self-conscious, of the fact that the setting is just a dream. At the same time, his subconscious is still producing the dreamscape.

Once he becomes lucid, it's possible for him to take charge of the dream. To consciously direct the dream. But lucid dreams are unstable because the dreamer is on the cusp of wakefulness. It's hard for him to both be lucid and remain asleep.

But I'm concentrating on the initial moment of lucidity. The sudden realization that it's a dream. That's one mental state, yet that takes place in tandem with another mental state: the ongoing subliminal production of the dreamscape. Both mental states belong to the same person at the same time. The dreamer becomes the conscious observer of his unconscious imagination. The conscious mind knows far less than the subconscious mind. Conversely, the subconscious mind is unaware of what it knows. 

If even a finite human thinker can have two different, interrelated, and simultaneous mental states, what justification is there to rule out dual psychology in the greater case of Christ?


  1. I came to the same conclusion too regarding dreams and dual consciousness. Apparently so did Thomas Morris. J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig briefly describe it this way:

    Some Christian philosophers, such as Thomas Morris, have postulated an independent conscious life for the incarnate Logos in addition to the conscious life of Jesus of Nazareth, what Morris calls a “two minds” view of the Incarnation. He provides a number of intriguing analogies in which asymmetrical accessing relations exist between a subsystem and an encompassing system, such that the overarching system can access information acquired through the subsystem but not vice versa. He gives a psychological analogy of dreams in which the sleeper is himself a person in the dream, and yet the sleeper has an awareness that everything that he is experiencing as reality is in fact merely a dream.
    Morris proposes that the conscious mind of Jesus of Nazareth be conceived as a subsystem of a wider mind which is the mind of the Logos. Such an understanding of the consciousness of the Logos stands in the tradition of Reformed theologians like Zwingli, who held that the Logos continued to operate outside the body of Jesus of Nazareth. The main difficulty of this view is that it threatens to lapse into Nestorianism, since it is very difficult to see why two self-conscious minds would not constitute two persons.
    If the model here proposed makes sense, then it serves to show that the classic doctrine of the Incarnation of Christ is coherent and plausible. It also serves religiously to elicit praise to God for his self-emptying act of humiliation in taking on our human condition with all its struggles and limitations for our sakes and for our salvation.....
    -J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig in chapter 30 of their book The Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview

    Craig briefly described it in a debate here.

    I'm adding a link to this blogpost in my own blogpost on Jesus' Omniscience.

    1. I independently came to the same conclusions due to various types of dreams, including lucid dreaming. Other instances came from dreams in which I was talking to other people in deep dialogue. In one instance one of the persons told a joke that was so funny I laughed out loud and woke up. Then I thought, "Who really told the joke?" Barring demonic, angelic or divine communication, I must have told the joke to myself with me simultaneously knowing and not knowing the punchline.

      I've also had dreams that ran like a movie where everything previous in the dream perfectly lead up to the denouement. It surprised me even though I must have concocted the intricate storyline subliminally.

    2. Here's an example from a lucid dream. About 22 years ago as a teenager I found out about lucid dreaming and realized I'd experienced it a few times before. So, I decided that the next time I had a lucid dream I would fly. Soon afterwards I experienced a lucid dream and found myself in a house. I decided to fly through the roof like Superman. I did so and flew over the countryside enjoying the scenery (especially since I dream in color). After flying for a while I slowly started flying faster and faster and faster. Eventually I flew so fast that it started scaring me to the point that I couldn't take it anymore, so I decided to wake myself up.

      What's interesting about this incident(and other lucid dreams I've had) is that in one sense *I* was in control, but in another sense *I* was not in control, it was the subliminal *Me* that was in control and was frightening *Me*.

      Having read about lucid dreaming I know techniques to initiate lucid dreaming, but I don't intentionally do so because some claim it can possibly open one up to demonic attacks or deception. I've had such attacks in times past would rather avoid them in the future. Though, knowing my authority in Christ as a Christian has enabled me to win the battles.

      On related topic, I think Old Hag Syndrome, Sleep Paralysis and Alien Abduction phenomena are often (not always) demonic attacks and can be resisted through the name and authority of Christ. Other Christians have come to the same conclusions.