Thursday, April 17, 2014

Quote: Atheist Philosopher Michael Ruse on Consciousness

"Why should a bunch of atoms have thinking ability?  Why should I, even as I wrote now, be able to reflect on what I am doing and why should you, even as you read now, be able to ponder my points, agreeing or disagreeing, with pleasure or pain, deciding to refute me or deciding that I am just not worth the effort?  No one, certainly not the Darwinian as such, seems to have an answer to this...The point is that there is no scientific answer." [1]

Do you agree with Ruse?  What do you think the best explanation of consciousness is?  Share below in the comments!

Courage and Godspeed,

As quoted by Lee Strobel, The Case for the Creator, p. 247.


John Moore said...

As you consider possible answers, be sure to ask yourself what thought is. If you assume thought is a spiritual-immaterial thing, then you've already decided to agree with Ruse. On the other hand, if you want an answer to his question, you must consider that thought is made of physical stuff moving through the brain. Thought is neuro-electric energy flow.

Yes, there are many ramifications and detailed questions to discuss. If you passionately wish to agree with Ruse, you can stop now, but if you wish to understand what thought is and how the mind works, you should keep digging! The scientific answers exist, and they are not too hard to understand, as long as you honestly want to understand.

Shimbabwe said...

I agree with Ruse, and a number of other philosophers. I don't think the answer is in the physical; nor can it be. If consciousness is reducible -- even in principle -- to neuronal impulses, acting via synapses within the neural network, you can potentially know more about me than I do, which seems quite absurd. My consciousness, because it is exclusive to [my] self, remains the same in spite of the fact that it is continuously rebuilt from completely different sets of material constituents from moment to moment, year to year etc. A third reason for me is that I --of whatever substance I am -- can readily manipulate the material components in my own brain, and subsequently everything about me.

Chase said...

Hi John,

You have presented two pathways of thinking:

1. Think that thought is immaterial and stop investigating the workings of the mind.


2. Think that thought is possibly made of physical stuff moving through the brain and investigate the workings of the mind further.

When considering these options, is the brain instructing itself which path to take or is something outside of the brain instructing the brain which path to take? In other words, is the brain thinking over the path to choose or is something outside of the brain thinking over the path to choose?