Breif outline here of my beliefs before I go further:
There is one God, in three Persons, as defined by the Catholic Faith.
The universe started from nothing, by God’s power, through his Son, with the Holy Spirit.
Nothing that exists was made without God in all three Persons. All of creation rightly worships the one God. God existed before anything in this world existed, and He is apart from it, in control of it, and not subject to it. He is not the universe, he created the universe.
Humans sin, which is why bad things happen, and God offers us salvation through the blood of his Son.
Pantheism (the worship of nature or all of creation as a god) is bad, heritical, and not aligned to the truth.
I believe all that, whole heartedly. Now that I’ve got that out of the way…
I read a lot during my nervous breakdown, and one of the things that I find fascinating is the theory of how consciousness arises. There are all kinds of different beliefs about where consciousness comes from. These seem to be the “big four” theories that I read.
Epiphenomenon - consciousness is a by-product of the brain. It’s something that arises from matter when matter becomes complex enough.
Dualism - consciousness is completely separated from the brain. The body is one thing, and the brian is another, and while they work together, they are totally separate entities.
Non-existant - consciousness isn’t really real. We’re not conscious because all we are is matter that’s working in a complex way. We just think we’re conscious because we input data in a way that makes us think that we have a first-person perspective. In reality, all we are, are combinations of chemical and electrical impulses acting in a specific organized way.
Pan-experientalism - mindless matter can’t cause a mind to arise - you can’t get something from nothing. Consciousness is completely different from matter, so dead matter shouldn’t be able to bring up a live mind. Likewise, dualism suggests there’s some “other” out there where the mind is for it to be separated from the body yet controling it. And of course we have consciousness, because we’re sitting here having first-person perspectives. So the only logical explanation is that mind is an inherent part of matter, and that all matter has a form of mind. In particles such as light or simple atoms, it would be “proto-consciousness,” and the more complex the organism, the more complex the consciousness, until you come to full, true consciousness in human beings.
I totally dig on number 4.
To me, from a Catholic perspective, it makes some sense. Consider - God crafted man and woman to have phyiscal bodies, and at the end of days we’ll get our bodies back, and they will be physical. Jesus had a physical body when he was resurrected. Granted, because it was glorified it could do things that ours can’t, but he could eat, and sleep, and walk, and talk, and he had the wounds he had when he died. So having a body is important to us. It’s what God wants for us.
Now, number one is impossible, because matter is dead and cannot cause a living mind. Besides, that’s atheistic thinking that suggests that God isn’t needed to create a soul, just complex matter.
Number 2 is what we think of because we know that when we die our souls go to heaven. That is, our essential selves leave the universe and enter the realm of God. But we know that when we’re concieved we have a new soul the moment we’re first created. And we know that the soul is in the body while we are alive, which is not possible by dualism, which suggests that the mind is “out there somewhere” and is just running the body. Like, the mind is a radio signal and your body is the radio playing out what it picks up. But we know that our souls are specifically fit to our bodies and that our souls will get back our bodies, just glorified, at the end of days. Dualism is a weak fit in that respect.
Number 3 is another atheist-held belief explaining why we’re not really people and why we can do whatever we want - if all we are, are bags of water with chemical reactions guiding us, then we should be able to do whatever we wish, since we’re just following our wiring.
But number four appeals to me. It explains the unique bond between human soul and human body - once we’re concieved, the proto-consciousness that the two separate sex cells in the mother and father join up to create a full, new, completely unique consciousness that fits with the full, new, and completely unique body that is created.
It goes a long way to explaining twins, who are totally unique individuals who share many spiritual and physical characteristics - if the cells divide and create two new souls and bodies, since they were created in the same moment and divided, they will have similarities while still being unique.
It explains why at the end of the world God will return our bodies to us - the physical matter decays for a time while God keeps our spiritual selves alive, but at the end of it all we’ll get to be whole again!
It brings home the fact that ALL of creation really DOES worship and praise God. It also explains why all of creation is groaning for redemption. Before the Fall, all of creation was in harmony and existed properly. Now it’s in pain because of the Fall, but eagerly awaits being put to rights.
I love it. It works for me… even though a lot of atheists hold on to it, too, it has way more implications for a Catholic than it does for an atehist, in my humble opinion.
I suggest looking up David Chalmers and the University of Arizona for anyone who’s interested. Love his stuff. Disagree with his philosophy (he’s an atehist) but love his scientific work because it really drives home how God makes humans.