On consciousness

A brief but honest response. I’ll admit I included the last question in a (possibly fruitless) attempt to drudge up an admission from a self-proclaimed atheist as to even the slightest possibility of a vague definition of the misnomer ‘afterlife.’ And now that I’ve stated it as such, I doubt I’ll receive anything less than a blunt and unwavering ‘no,’ but I’ll hold on to hope.

 

In response to the first question though, Mugatu (as I like to think of him) has only tackled the ‘easy problem’ of consciousness as described by David Chalmers (see this post). Namely, he has outlined why he believes that the outward appearance of consciousness is merely a brain state, which is all but unarguable. He, possibly for brevity’s sake, did not address what Chalmers calls the ‘hard problem,’ that is, the qualia of one’s subjective experience, which he states, and I agree for the most part, has no physical or chemical counterpoint in the brain, or in physical reality at all. Chalmers argues that these phenomena cannot and will not be found in physical reality, as their definition restricts them to metaphysics, but I’m sure my friends at EoA will have some arguments against this. So, as I have nothing else to add to Makagutu’s response, let’s see if anyone will tackle Chalmer’s ‘hard problem.’

Enquiries on Atheism

 Do you believe consciousness exists in this reality? Is it merely a by-product of brain function? Is it contained somewhere in the brain?

Do you believe in the possibility that consciousness can continue to exist after death

The quest to understand consciousness

These questions appear here. I have decided to combine the two because they deal with the same subject matter, that is, consciousness. We all must be aware that this happens to be one of the questions that our species has been attempting to answer for centuries if not millenia and as such a blog post by yours truly would not be sufficient in dealing with this problem. Having said that, we will then attempt to give the question an attempt.

I am not a neuro-scientist and so in order to answer this question, I would first like us to look at the definition of consciousness, definitions that…

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Open Enquiries from a Featured Theist

In my first ever blog post, almost a year and a half ago, I declared my sentiment that the debate on the existence of God is ultimately meaningless.  Since that fateful day, I have posted articles about philosophy, science, psychology, history, mythology, as well as random thoughts and just some utter bullshit.  Inevitably though, I am time and time again roped into the same religious debates that I denounced with that first post.  In these debates, I have argued from both sides of the fence, playing Devil’s and God’s advocate depending on the context, all while stealthily avoiding affiliating myself with any one denomination.  Throughout the course of these discussions, the rare times I’ve had to directly address the question, I’ve described myself as an omnist, a deist, an agnostic apologist, and an aimless wanderer between all beliefs (and no belief).  But, despite all my efforts to avoid it, I have recently been labelled by a wonderful alliance of atheist bloggers on their compendium, Enquiries on Atheism, as a ‘Featured Theist.’  Now don’t get me wrong, I am both honored and flattered to be featured on this collaboration, and I want to send my sincere thanks to whoever is responsible for making the decision (even if it’s just a random computer algorithm).  But it does draft me onto the losing team of a competition of which I’m growing more and more wearisome.  Through all my debates for and against the values and hypocrisies of religion, the one consistency has been inconsistency, specifically, the inconsistency of beliefs among those of the same nomenclature.  Even within a specific denomination of a specific religion, you’re not likely to find any two people who share all of the exact same beliefs, moral, philosophical, or otherwise.  For example, two Christians who attend the same church and both declare Christ as their Lord and savior may have completely different views about the importance of the factual validity of the bible.  Likewise, two atheists may be variably certain about the nature of objective reality.  It’s these and similar discrepancies that have led me to avoid declaring any affiliation myself.  Nonetheless, we humans need to categorize our world in order to understand it, and so people with vastly different beliefs may end up being labelled, by themselves and others, with the same assumption-laden label, which further sparks the debate based on nothing more than each person’s own presumptions about that label.

But while I’m being cast, I might as well play the role, for the show must go on.  And I’d like to take the opportunity to explore the varying beliefs within one of these sticky labels.  Atheists are notorious for avoiding declaring any of their own beliefs by exploiting the loophole that atheism is a lack of belief.  But as atheism is merely a lack of belief in gods, as opposed to nihilism, I’m not gonna let the writers over at EoA wriggle out of the witness stand so easily.  So I do have some enquiries, which I’ll list here and also shoot over to them, that should, if they choose to answer, help clarify what beliefs atheist do not lack. These questions are open to all who want to answer though, and if you don’t mind disclosing your preferred label, it may help to exemplify my point even further.

1. Do you believe in the finality of objective reality, despite that our only source of knowledge about that reality is subjective experience. In other words, do you believe that the physical universe is all that exists?

2. Do you believe that logic, and thereby science, is inherent to reality, or do we project it onto reality.  Is logic the language of nature, or is it simply our method of understanding it?

3. Do you believe that our logic, and thereby our science, can or will someday explain the entirety of reality. Can the true nature of reality be known?

4. Do you believe consciousness exists in this reality? Is it merely a by-product of brain function? Is it contained somewhere in the brain?

5. Do you believe in the possibility that consciousness can continue to exist after death?

I’ll stop there for now, as these are the questions I’m mainly interested in.  Hopefully from here we can foster a discussion that explores each others’ worldviews.  Until then, have at it!