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  #16  
Old Jun 13, '12, 10:24 am
WillP WillP is offline
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Default Re: Consciousness Used to Indicate that there is No God

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Originally Posted by runningdude View Post
The only consciousness thus far extensively studied is that experienced by human beings. MRI scans and studies of the electrical activity of the human brain shows a strong coloration between brain activity and conscious experience.

However, while studies have shown human consciousness to be dependent on a human brain, this does not logically suggest God does not exist. These studies deal with a discrete biological phenomenon, and cannot be extrapolated into the field of theology. To do so is academically dishonest.
I think there is an abject failure of folks in this discussion to simply admit that we do not know. "Being" or "existence" is a mind numbing concept. Consciousness is even harder to subject to analysis--perhaps a bit similar to trying to look directly into one's own eyes,

Even Decartes explanation (cogno ergo sum) for how he could be certain that he exists remains in play. What Decartes' argument overlooks, is that it assumes that there is an "I" which engages in cognition. In reality, it may be better, or, more correctly stated that there is an activity of experience which arises as a result of certain physical processes---hence no "I" or self in the sense that some in this discussion think of as a "soul".

Altogether, I am ather certain, that, whatever, the correct answer may be in the riddle of consciousness, that the issue will never be resolved in any satisfactory manner by resort to the type of medieval exegesis which is relied upon so heavily, by some, to explain catholic doctrines..
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  #17  
Old Jun 13, '12, 11:15 am
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Default Re: Consciousness Used to Indicate that there is No God

Material objects are persistent grouping of physical events. Consciousness is a persistent grouping of mental events, the coordinated streams of our awareness. A brain is a material object and subject to physical laws. Does that necessitate that consciousness and awareness are wholly dependent properties of these physical laws?

Our consciousness and brains can be both ontologically different, yet dynamically connected by physical laws. Physical events to can hang together by virtue of physical connections. Can groupings of mental events hang together by virtue of mental connections alone? It would not be incompatible with orthodox quantum theory if this is the case.

I think it would be easier to envision a basically mental “world” creating for itself a physical substructure to attend to details, than to imagine a purely physical world creating a mental superstructure. We can think up physical laws but no one has yet been able to persuasively explain how consciousness could emerge from mindless matter.
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  #18  
Old Jun 13, '12, 12:00 pm
JDaniel JDaniel is offline
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Default Re: Consciousness Used to Indicate that there is No God

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Originally Posted by Dan Grelinger View Post
And you are not the only one.
Dan:

FurtherSuntime writes poetically - and no doubt thinks poetically. (How incredibly fortunate!) When I first encountered his prose, a while back, I was taken back by it, and reacted as many herein do. In time, the more I read his prose, the more I've come to appreciate what he says and, particularly, the way he says it. Try re-reading his posts a couple of times; you'll discover something that is nearly reality in (a sublime flow of) words. Understand: it's not rigid English.

For many, it won't be easy. For some, I think it will be worthwhile.

God bless,
jd
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  #19  
Old Jun 13, '12, 12:24 pm
JDaniel JDaniel is offline
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Default Re: Consciousness Used to Indicate that there is No God

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Originally Posted by NonServiam View Post
... as ASimon points out, it suggests very strongly that there is no soul (or, at least, we're not justified in believing that there is one).
NS:

What would be an appropriate syllogism for that?

Quote:
That there is likely no soul may have theological implications, and it may rule out some concepts of a god (the Catholic god among them), but it wouldn't, all by itself, "suggest God does not exist."
Further, does it suggest that we - human beings (and all else) - consist of "atoms," which consist of electrons, protons and neutrons (which consist of dimensionless point particles)? Let me repeat that: "dimensionless point particles". Yet, we have no trouble believing that we (and all other things) have dimension, and relevant "mass." What are we really? Do we register at all on a MOHS scale? What is that 99.9999999999999+% of the atom that is not space? Our "matter?" Really? That which is sooo insignificant that we call it/them "virtual?"

ASimon really thinks that matter actually exists. He has not thought it through. Perhaps you will.

God bless,
jd
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  #20  
Old Jun 13, '12, 12:54 pm
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Default Re: Consciousness Used to Indicate that there is No God

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Originally Posted by JDaniel View Post
Further, does it suggest that we - human beings (and all else) - consist of "atoms," which consist of electrons, protons and neutrons (which consist of dimensionless point particles)? Let me repeat that: "dimensionless point particles". Yet, we have no trouble believing that we (and all other things) have dimension, and relevant "mass." What are we really? Do we register at all on a MOHS scale? What is that 99.9999999999999+% of the atom that is not space? Our "matter?" Really? That which is sooo insignificant that we call it/them "virtual?"

ASimon really thinks that matter actually exists. He has not thought it through. Perhaps you will.

God bless,
jd
The issue for many is they have a classical physics understanding of the Universe. They believe there exists a material universe that develops by interactions of tiny mechanical parts with neighboring tiny mechanical parts. In the quantum physics understanding the Universe, minds act as a causally efficacious agent and as a causally efficacious observer. In other words, the mind affects the physically described state of the universe.
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  #21  
Old Jun 13, '12, 1:29 pm
ASimon ASimon is offline
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Default Re: Consciousness Used to Indicate that there is No God

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Originally Posted by runningdude View Post
But in theology, the existence of the soul is not predicated on the presence of an organic brain, but predicated on the existence of a god, specifically the Catholic understanding of God. If God as understood by Catholic's exists, then we have an eternal soul. If not, then there is no soul.

These biological studies only address the existence of a link between brain activity and consciousness. They do not address the existence of God, and therefore do not logically undermine the existence of a soul or afterlife.
If the existence of the Catholic God and the immortal soul are so strictly contingent on one another, why can't we examine the truth value of either proposition to illuminate the truth value of the other?

Even if the existence of the soul is so strictly predicated on the existence of the Catholic God, all you're doing is drawing a strict contingency between the two propositions. You've not explained why this process of truth-finding must begin from the top down.
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  #22  
Old Jun 13, '12, 8:46 pm
JDaniel JDaniel is offline
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Default Re: Consciousness Used to Indicate that there is No God

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Originally Posted by Soldier Of God View Post
The issue for many is they have a classical physics understanding of the Universe. They believe there exists a material universe that develops by interactions of tiny mechanical parts with neighboring tiny mechanical parts. In the quantum physics understanding the Universe, minds act as a causally efficacious agent and as a causally efficacious observer. In other words, the mind affects the physically described state of the universe.
Soldier:

I agree.

God bless,
jd
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  #23  
Old Jun 13, '12, 9:33 pm
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Default Re: Consciousness Used to Indicate that there is No God

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Originally Posted by WillP View Post
Certain complex chemical reactions that produce an illusion of awareness in the body presently typing think there is an abject failure of the advanced DNA configurations in this discussion to simply admit that emergent properties of purely material processes within the human organism do not know. "Being" or "existence" is a mind numbing concept. Consciousness is even harder to subject to analysis--perhaps a bit similar to trying to look directly into the illusion of self's own eyes,

Even Decartes' unguided neurological activity's explanation (cognocogito ergo sum) for how its firing synapses could be certain that they exist remains in play. What Decartes' argument overlooks, is that it assumes that there is an "I" which engages in cognition. In reality, it may be better, or, more correctly stated that there is an activity of experience which arises as a result of certain physical processes---hence no "I" or self in the sense that some advanced sequences of genetic information in this discussion produce brain activity that creates the impression of being though of as a "soul".

Altogether, the physical activity taking place in the brain of the body at this keyboard is rather certain, that, whatever, the correct answer may be in the riddle of consciousness, that the issue will never be resolved in any satisfactory manner by resort to the type of medieval exegesis which is relied upon so heavily, by some, to explain catholic doctrines..
Post edited to conform to the philosophy therein.

Also, for your future reference, I corrected your Latin. I hope you won't think it snooty of me.
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Last edited by prodigalson2011; Jun 13, '12 at 9:51 pm.
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  #24  
Old Jun 14, '12, 11:23 am
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runningdude runningdude is offline
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Default Re: Consciousness Used to Indicate that there is No God

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Originally Posted by ASimon View Post
If the existence of the Catholic God and the immortal soul are so strictly contingent on one another, why can't we examine the truth value of either proposition to illuminate the truth value of the other?
You perhaps could use biology to rule out certain external characteristics of the human soul, but you can't disprove the existence of the soul or afterlife. It would be an academically dishonest argument.
Quote:
Even if the existence of the soul is so strictly predicated on the existence of the Catholic God, all you're doing is drawing a strict contingency between the two propositions. You've not explained why this process of truth-finding must begin from the top down.
The exact nature of the human soul is undefined by church teaching, however both biology and theology can inform one's one opinion as to the nature of the soul. However, any honest argument must admit that the existence of the soul is ultimately a matter of faith. For faith to be relevant, the God it is placed in must exist. For a Catholic, it is axiomatic that God exists. As such, petty appeals to biology are wholly unconvincing.

To a Catholic, faith and reason are not in conflict. Scientific inquiry is not to be shunned, but its results must be interpreted within the bounds of its discipline. In this sample problem, all we have shown is that consciousness cannot be measured when there is no brain activity to measure. It is simply dishonest to say this alone disproves the existence of the soul or of God.
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  #25  
Old Jun 14, '12, 1:04 pm
ASimon ASimon is offline
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Default Re: Consciousness Used to Indicate that there is No God

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Originally Posted by runningdude View Post
You perhaps could use biology to rule out certain external characteristics of the human soul, but you can't disprove the existence of the soul or afterlife. It would be an academically dishonest argument.

The exact nature of the human soul is undefined by church teaching, however both biology and theology can inform one's one opinion as to the nature of the soul. However, any honest argument must admit that the existence of the soul is ultimately a matter of faith. For faith to be relevant, the God it is placed in must exist. For a Catholic, it is axiomatic that God exists. As such, petty appeals to biology are wholly unconvincing.

To a Catholic, faith and reason are not in conflict. Scientific inquiry is not to be shunned, but its results must be interpreted within the bounds of its discipline. In this sample problem, all we have shown is that consciousness cannot be measured when there is no brain activity to measure. It is simply dishonest to say this alone disproves the existence of the soul or of God.
This is not a discussion about what we can prove or disprove. Like the existence of God, the existence of an afterlife or a soul is an unfalsifiable proposition. Therefore, proving or disproving them is already a non-starter. What we are talking about is whether we can take our working knowledge of the Universe as it stands to inform these type of questions.

The idea that science can only operate within its own, various, narrowly defined parameters is demonstrably false, I'd argue. Discoveries in Chemistry, for example, can easily inform questions of biology, psychology, even astronomy. To say nothing of realms of knowledge that aren't even traditionally scientific. What we learn about biology can change a former understanding of history. We can diagnose, with reasonable accuracy, the disease that killed someone centuries ago, if only by reading the scribblings of contemporaries who might have been prescribing leaches and spirits as cures.

So, I see no reason why the claims that theology makes (however unfalsifiable) cannot also be evaluated in the lights of our scientific understanding of the Universe. What neuroscience has long told us is that everything that distinguishes you from an organic bag of muscle, bone and water; everything that makes you you, in other words - everything can be damaged or destroyed by damaging the brain. Conversely, what theology would have us believe is that when you die, and your brain is damaged completely and irrevocably, everything that makes you you will survive, fully formed and without impediment - and if anything, better than it ever was.

Though not rising to the level of proof, what we know about consciousness from neuroscience gives us good reasons to doubt the claims of theology re: an eternal soul and an afterlife - claims that, frankly, didn't offer much of anything in the way of evidence to support them in the first place.
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  #26  
Old Jun 14, '12, 2:26 pm
MPat MPat is offline
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Default Re: Consciousness Used to Indicate that there is No God

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Originally Posted by NonServiam View Post
Of course not, and I don't believe I have ever argued this point.

Rather, as ASimon points out, it suggests very strongly that there is no soul (or, at least, we're not justified in believing that there is one).

That there is likely no soul may have theological implications, and it may rule out some concepts of a god (the Catholic god among them), but it wouldn't, all by itself, "suggest God does not exist."
OK, so, you think that "studies [...] show[ing] human consciousness to be dependent on a human brain" suggest non-existence of soul "very strongly"..? That makes me wish to ask a couple of questions:

1. What result would you expect in case the soul existed? If the result would be the same, then, by Bayes' theorem, we learn nothing we didn't know before the experiments...
(That is, if P(B) = P(B|A), then P(A|B) = P(B|A) * P(A) / P(B) = P(B) * P(A) / P(B) = P(A).)

2. How strong is that "very strong"? Can you quantify it, compare with something else? For example, if we take various arguments in favour of God's existence, would you say that they suggest God's existence more strongly or less strongly than this "very strong"?
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  #27  
Old Jun 17, '12, 10:13 am
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runningdude runningdude is offline
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Default Re: Consciousness Used to Indicate that there is No God

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Originally Posted by ASimon View Post
This is not a discussion about what we can prove or disprove. Like the existence of God, the existence of an afterlife or a soul is an unfalsifiable proposition. Therefore, proving or disproving them is already a non-starter. What we are talking about is whether we can take our working knowledge of the Universe as it stands to inform these type of questions.
The title of the thread is "Re: Consciousness Used to Indicate that there is No God".
Quote:
The idea that science can only operate within its own, various, narrowly defined parameters is demonstrably false, I'd argue. Discoveries in Chemistry, for example, can easily inform questions of biology, psychology, even astronomy. To say nothing of realms of knowledge that aren't even traditionally scientific. What we learn about biology can change a former understanding of history. We can diagnose, with reasonable accuracy, the disease that killed someone centuries ago, if only by reading the scribblings of contemporaries who might have been prescribing leaches and spirits as cures.
These are all within the domain of the physical sciences. Of course they are compatible.
Quote:
So, I see no reason why the claims that theology makes (however unfalsifiable) cannot also be evaluated in the lights of our scientific understanding of the Universe. What neuroscience has long told us is that everything that distinguishes you from an organic bag of muscle, bone and water; everything that makes you you, in other words - everything can be damaged or destroyed by damaging the brain. Conversely, what theology would have us believe is that when you die, and your brain is damaged completely and irrevocably, everything that makes you you will survive, fully formed and without impediment - and if anything, better than it ever was.
Well, no. Catholic theology would have us believe that everything would be restored by a supreme creator. This should be very easy to understand, as a materialist would see the human brain as nothing more that a complex vinyl record. If broken, just press a new one. Hence, why the existence of an eternal soul become a trivial consequence of an all powerful God, who could recover data from the vinyl fragments at the end of time.
Quote:
Though not rising to the level of proof, what we know about consciousness from neuroscience gives us good reasons to doubt the claims of theology re: an eternal soul and an afterlife - claims that, frankly, didn't offer much of anything in the way of evidence to support them in the first place.
I can only argue for Catholic theology without intellectual dissonance, as every other belief system is demonstrably flawed. Therefore, the best I can hope to do is clarify Catholic teaching here. Arguing against an incorrect understanding of Catholicism is easy - your just proving false beliefs as false.
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  #28  
Old Jun 17, '12, 10:38 am
tonyrey tonyrey is offline
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Default Re: Consciousness Used to Indicate that there is No God

[quote=NonServiam;9402456]
Quote:
I'm going to answer tonyrey's post simply because I think my answers will be informative to others here. It's not my intention to engage in a lengthy conversation with him because I have never once seen him engage in a productive dialogue with anyone. He just posts the same points over and over again (even after they have been refuted), refuses to acknowledge points that have been made, and, in short, does not perform any the behaviors that are essential to having a dialogue.
As such, it's not my intention to converse with him, but to use the points he's made as an opportunity to educate other readers of this thread.
It is not only discourteous but a breach of the forum rules to make false, unjustified and unsubstantiated assertions about another member of this forum. I shall give you an opportunity to retract those statements which are motivated solely by frustration at your inability to give a rational response to my posts.

Quote:
It doesn't "necessitate" dependence, but in the case of the observations we have about brains and consciousness, the data suggests *very* strongly that the physical brain governs consciousness and that this is likely because consciousness is an emergent property of it.
There is abundant evidence, e.g. hypnosis, that the mind controls the brain and the rest of the body.

Quote:
For example, if certain parts of the brain are stimulated with electricity, the subject smells a certain smell or remembers a particular memory or whatever: on a more trivial level, most of us have experience with taking substances, such as alcohol, that alter brain chemistry and affect the way consciousness works.

It's not merely that brain functions and changes in consciousness "co-exist": it's that changing brain chemistry changes consciousness.
Changing brain chemistry changes consciousness that we can observe. Nothing more...

Quote:
No one claimed that it necessarily is. We're merely talking about evaluating the claim that there is a consciousness without a brain. If there is insufficient evidence to support this claim, then logically, we cannot accept it.
But if there is insufficient evidence to support the materialist's claim, then illogically, you can accept it!


Quote:
Our not accepting the claim doesn't say anything about other claims.
It says precisely nothing whatsoever and is therefore useless.


Quote:
See above: there's a lot that suggests that consciousness emerges from brain functions.
"suggests" <> "proves".

Quote:
No one has suggested that "atomic structures" are conscious: rather, consciousness seems to be produced by brains -- organs that are made up of atoms but that possess abilities (like producing consciousness) that atoms don't have.
An unsubstantiated hypothesis based on the unsubstantiated theory of materialism. Hmmm...

Quote:
Atoms also can't pump blood, but enough atoms in the right configuration (which we call "the heart") absolutely can pump blood.
A physical phenomenon. Nothing more.

Quote:
Similarly, atoms aren't conscious, but enough atoms in the right configuration (which we call "the brain") do seem to be able to give rise to consciousness.
"seem" applies only to those who faithfully subscribe to the unsubstantiated theory of materialism.
Quote:
Not necessarily: there are some compatibilist models of free will that could account for both.
"could" <> "does".

Quote:
But even if a real-world discovery were incompatible with some idea that some philosopher came up with, it would just demonstrate that the idea is wrong and needs to be discarded in favor of an idea that actually accords with our discoveries about the universe.
That statement gives the materialist's game away! Our discoveries about anything else except the material universe count for absolutely nothing. Persons, truth, goodness, freedom, justice, beauty and love don't come into his neat little scheme of things at all. They are, of course, completely insignificant....

Thank you very much for your post. It was extremely informative...
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