Programme 3: Conscious Minds

Look inside your head and what you see may appear quite unremarkable. Yet the brain is easily described as the most powerful phenomenon in the universe. It is also the subject of major scientific enquiry into how it operates.

Scientists are fairly clear about the brain being a communication centre and they know how, harnessing electricity, messages are delivered across its networks. But the biggest mystery being faced is how those messages are translated into consciousness: our awareness of ourselves, of each other, of the past, the present and the future. That is a major leap!

And what is the relationship between brain and mind? Are they the same thing, integrally linked or essentially separate entities? Learn about a worldwide study into Near-Death Experience to discover whether science can shed light on the answer.

And compounding the mystery there is the realisation that consciousness operates at different levels. Higher levels of consciousness include awareness of abstract ideas such as beauty, the difference between right and wrong, truth and even a spiritual consciousness that some claim connects them to a transcendent reality we might refer to as God.

If science struggles to explain consciousness, can the world’s religions offer any insight? In this series we travel East and West to compare and contrast the answers given by Christianity, Daoism, Buddhism and atheism to some of life’s biggest questions. On some topics there is remarkable agreement – such as the need to tune to transcendent reality and the need for moral cleansing. But they also differ in respect of what that reality is. And viewed through the lenses of science and reason, can any of their answers be substantiated?

In this programme take the journey into the inner recesses of the human mind and think as objectively as possible about whether the truth about ultimate reality can be known. Discover why, in their search for truth, a former Catholic became a Buddhist and why a former atheist became a Christian.