When I speak of the possibility of our observing certain "phenomena" that are outside of space and time ("light") via the use of a rudimentary, or incomplete, organ, I am not talking necessarily about a physiological group of specialized cells that could be removed or isolated, like the heart or liver. I am talking about what should really be called a "meta-organ," since what I have in mind is a structure in the brain - or, more rightly speaking, in the mind.
A "structure" in the mind is a better phrase to use than a structure in the brain, since the brain does contain physiological "organs," or discrete sections with various specific uses. A structure in the mind, however, will not be so much a specific part of the brain, as a set of patterns of brain activity (and complementary patterns of inactivity).
So, this organ, in a sense, could be said to be a "way of thinking." So it can be learned!
(We learn an incredible amount of things from our past - we are taught a huge number of things, simple data and ways to think, by our elders and our culture as we live. There is no reason why some of what we can learn should not create certain predictable states of transcendental ecstacy or visions.)
There is a way, according to this theory, to "learn" to achieve a state in which ones neuronal patterns produce a certain state of being which can account for these transcendental phenomena.
Whether they are simply internal states of a particular kind or actually receptive sensory states in which external information is gleaned from somewhere in the universe, is a very difficult question to pursue. I suppose the only test for this is partial at best - a slightly consistent pattern of prediction or accession of information would have to be shown in order to accept that external informationis being gained, and that the patern truly acts as some sort of "sense organ." In the absence of this, we cannot be sure, but must slowly come to accept , on a statistical basis, that it is just an internal state.
If it does turn out to be "just an internal state," this does not negate it's pleasantness or intensity, but it does mean that it is not a source of "truth," although since meditation and consideration of past experience is the source of wisdom, it could be a part of the process of becoming wise, since those are internal states.
On the other hand, if there were a way to statistically test the position that information of some kind os actually being obtained, we would be in a very interesting position. No matter how poorly or weakly this function occurs, it occasional occurrence would create a revolution in a sense in the science of the mind, to say nothing of some branches of philosophy and theology.
Of course, it's effect on religion and theology would probably be pretty marginal, since the superstitious belief structures dating back to the dawn of our race tend to be rather slow to accept any gains, explanations, or understanding provided by science, or even philosophy. The Churches simply ignore the new information, however useful itmight be to their alleged missions. People will probably keep hating and killing each other for their so-called gods, even if the day islong past when we understand and can predict where the apprehension of a "thing" that might be appropriate to call "god" arises in our natural physiology and neurology.
It will at least be easier for the more liberal religions to absorb if it turns out that there is actually some experience or infomation that does come from beyond the individual. To have to say that the source of all transcendence is simply our own imaginations in certain enhanced/deprived neurological states would take the wind out of the sails of a lot of religious "thinking." And if it is the case, we will say it.
© Huw Powell