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Link Paperback – November 29, 2013
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The approach seems to be to lay a theoretical foundation for digitizing the Divine. To put it another way, the story proposes that we can document through empirical science the non-empirical, non-physical nature of human consciousness and its connection to the core of the universe in the Divine. The story posits the origin and seat of human consciousness in the metaphysical consciousness of the Divine, or the existence of the human soul.
As the Link team's experiments develop it seems to me the researchers draw an invalid conclusion from their experiments concluding that their tests of former memories prove the existence of a human soul. This is determined on the basis of the actual recovery and experience by a descendant of specific memories of the experiences of known ancestors.
It would seem to me the best this would prove in empirical science is that there is a physical mechanism that captures personal experiences of any particular individual and transfers this memory somehow in the genes. The researchers posit a universal single "particle" that resides in all cells of a single person's body simultaneously, (supportable on the basis of Quantum Physics).
They then draw the logically unsupported conclusion that this physical - quantum - particle is equivalent to the traditional pre-Christian Greek-Western idea of the individual "soul."
The existence of such previous ancestor-life memories in a genetic descendant would still be only a physical phenomenon, since the detection and transmission mechanisms are empirical and physical. It is still an invalid leap of logic to conclude - from the experimental data - that there is some non-corporeal entity or core beyond the physical entity in which such memories were recovered, detected, reported and verified.
It may provide a strong intuitive support for such a metaphysical conclusion, but in the procedures of experimental science I don't see how it can be valid. An argument to that end could be constructed through deductive reason, a philosophical justification for such a belief, drawn from such experimental data. The scientific grounds for it, however, seem slim if supported at all.
The engineer-author makes a good effort, however, and there are things to think about in his cnostructino of the possible mechanisms. He supports the possiblity by having the team analyze the amount of storage necessary to store and recall the memories of any human, not to mentoin the ancestor memories the team discvoers in the experiemnet.
The team members also use mathematics to account for what they are finding and theoretically explore possiblitiees, in the same way theoretical Quantum Physics theorists process and theorize.
The characters seem to feel that their findings support the Christian view of the spirit or soul and the idea of an afterlife. But the novel's conclusions seem to conflict with the biblical view of life and individual identity, and the goal of physical restoration of individual bodies on a new earth.
The line of focus and development follows the traditional western culture view of a non-physical existence continuing after death as the true identity of the individual.
Most people ignore the conflict of this view with the biblical perspective focused on resurrection and new existence bodily. The biblical texts don't focus on a disembodied state as the ultimate goal of the human identity or even the "believer."
Westerners of whatever ilk of faith or culture, other than full materialists who deny the spirit as a separate entity, think in terms of the culturally traditional disembodied existence in some sort of "heaven." This traditional cultural concept is tenacious.
People amazingly collapse and resolve the biblical view that into the cultural concept so dominant in popular European cultural and philosophical history since before the time of Christ.
As a metaphysical reflection, the concept this novel presents is fascinating, and may be an explanation congenial to a large number of modern-minded people with Christian beliefs. And the idea of a spirit-identity that persists beyond the confines of physical life on earth is widespread among human culture.
The demonstration of the scientific method as applied to this type of question is superb. We are treated to the inner discussions and even personal musings and thought-struggles of team members investigating the Link concepts. Written by an engineer, the portrayal covers aspects and details a non-scientific writer might miss.
This is a captivating story and while there are some contrived or superficial points in the discussion, for the most part the story and the team's scientific investigations are credible. It was very entertaining and stimulating. And I think it provides credible foundations for a materialist defense of a non-material.
It's just that this is not a focus in the biblical texts, though there are some reflections of such a view indirectly in a few passages focusing on other questions. The characters seem to thin that whatever they find will be a confirmation of the biblical view.
But I can't find the perspective of traditional western metaphysics as a focus in the biblical texts. It is certainly not a topic of any direct teaching on the subject. It appears to be of no consequence in the resurrection view of the final Rule of God as Jesus discusses it.
That is a different question that the author (and other contemporary fundamentalist or evangelical rationalist Christian writers) try to meld with into one with the classic western cultural metaphysics.
The perspective found in the biblical texts is a whole different question from whether scientific "proof" for non-materialist realities like a "soul" or "spirit" may be reasoned out from empirical data. One does not prove nor require the other.
Moving on to the recent controversy. I read this book before I played Assassin's Creed, and while playing the game, I didn't think of it at all. The basis of the lawsuit is pretty much ridiculous. A machine that takes you back to live your ancestor's lives-- first of all, there's research that's been done on genetic memories, so it's easy to think of that and twist it into something sci-fi. Avatar used a similar machine, as well. I'm sure if someone wanted to, they could find a ton of examples. My point is that anybody can find similarities between two things. Basically anyone who's ever taken a language arts/humanities class has had to write some kind of compare and contrast essay. It really isn't hard to look at two pieces of work and pick out every bit that happens to be the same, and if everyone took the route that this author did, there would be lawsuits everywhere.
As a final statement, I really do think it's unwise to sue Ubi over this. It's like the guy who sued JK Rowling; you see something popular and you're driven by greed to try and edge in on the profits. It doesn't matter if the book was absolutely fantastic or mediocre--it's not fair. There's no way that he's going to win the lawsuit unless he proves that there are characters who are similar or actual plot points that have been stolen. Otherwise, he's just created a mess for himself that's going to be impossible to clean up.
So, no, the book isn't worth $20, especially for just a paperback. If you have some time to kill (and perhaps you've read everything else your local library has to offer) you might want to check it out and see for yourself. But really, fiction and non-fiction writing styles are far too different to be combined like this, and it was actually kind of painful to make it through this book.
For example, on the second page of Chapter 2, the author describes in rudimentary language the amazing interface of the Link, and then begins the next paragraph with a with a self-congratulatory one-word sentence of "Yes."
Reading this, it almost feels as though it was a poor English translation of a book written in some other language.
For further entertainment, check out the preview of the same author's "The Truly Astonishing Hypothesis" (i have to stifle laughter just reading the title), which is essentially a book made up of quotations from smarter people that are strung together by some shmo who read them somewhere else at some point.
If stranded on a desert island for the rest of my life, I would rather stare at the sand than read this drivel.
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