LJ 2009-01-02 22:56:00

Jan 2nd, 2009 | Filed under LiveJournal Import

Sometimes these thoughts occur to me.. Like this one popped into my head when I was pondering the nature of God, and the role of nature in God, while walking back from the shops earlier.. I would post it to AMA, but I don’t think it’s pitched at quite the right level, so..

Here’s a question of those people who don’t believe in God, or indeed any higher power, or any concept of a soul, but who have at least given the topic a lot of thought.

Presumably you believe that human consciousness arises out of the emergent complexity of how the brain works, right..? Or something along those lines at any rate. I mean, if there’s no soul, then you must go with a more technical, scientific approach, and presumably emergence is a pretty good explanation.

But if consciousness can arise out of complexity alone, then what is the world, if not conscious? After all, if the complexity of one little brain can give rise to a perception of self, then surely the complexity of the whole world would create what one might describe as a “higher power”, right?

So really, the hardcore atheists who might try to use emergence as a means of explaining consciousness might in fact be putting forward a convincing argument for the existence of a higher power..

So many ways to attract the “ama questions nobody will reply to” tag :o)

  1. ex_absentees659
    Jan 2nd, 2009 at 23:01
    Reply | Quote | #1

    Or: “journal entries nobody will reply to”

    Either way.

    • James
      Jan 2nd, 2009 at 23:07
      Reply | Quote | #2

      That describes most of what I write in here, I’m okay with that :o)

      But to get a zero-response AMA question? Oh the shame of it…

  2. Jasna
    Jan 2nd, 2009 at 23:06
    Reply | Quote | #3

    Wait, but why would the fact that consciousness CAN arise from complexity mean that it must?

    • James
      Jan 2nd, 2009 at 23:15
      Reply | Quote | #4

      It wouldn’t. But it leaves the door wide open for that sort of line of thought, doesn’t it?

      It would be hard to claim that it was impossible for such a higher power to exist when its existence is enabled by one of the mechanisms for saying “there is no soul”.

      • Jasna
        Jan 2nd, 2009 at 23:18
        Reply | Quote | #5

        Anyone who claims that it’s impossible for there to be a god is rather silly and deserves no effort of argument. However, even being open-minded about god, your argument does not give me much pause.

  3. Ste
    Jan 2nd, 2009 at 23:54
    Reply | Quote | #6

    A short answer, if only because I’m mildly drunk…

    The concept of emergent conciousness from the complex interactions of neurons in a brain is not necessarily analogous to the complex interactions between the inhabitants of a planent. For example, the ‘neural network’ (for want of a better name) consists of direct physical links between physical nodes. Such a connection does not exist in the larger physical ‘world’.

    Not attempting to entirely rubbish your argument, merely pointing out its limitations.

    (from a hardcore athiest btw)

  4. lapenn
    Jan 3rd, 2009 at 03:22
    Reply | Quote | #7

    this is similar to how I think. I’m not sure if the “higher power,” as it were, is specifically some sort of conscious being that directs stuff in our lives. In some senses, I see the higher power more like the force (oh, the nerdery). I very much follow the Pascal’s Wager viewpoint. I like the community formed in my church, and I feel that it is very important to acknowledge and encourage the connections between all living beings.

    So says my boyfriend: “according to the standard model, larger connections exist in the physical world through forces of distance.” things are connected through the 4 fundamental forces: gravity, electromagnet, weak and strong nuclear. in particle physics, particles cause these interactions to occur (just a theoretical view). and string theory [which lapenn thinks is crazy] is another viewpoint, if they could only make testable predictions.

    anyway, based on what he says, and on the fact that there are certainly strong connections, ecologically speaking, between all living things, I certainly could see complex interactions and emergent effects occurring.

    and to return to Pascal’s Wager, why not believe? The act of believing does not mean we need to all be fundamentalist bible thumpers who force our viewpoints on others. I still truly believe that if everyone followed a basic code of morals/ethics (mostly, do unto others as you’d have done unto you), the world would be a much better place. the conflicts that stem from religion come from semantics.

  5. Max
    Jan 3rd, 2009 at 15:37
    Reply | Quote | #8

    Well, it depends. One individual may have consciousness. But would you say that human race together has consciousness, and if so, is it coherent in any way. (I’d say maybe, and no). Even a bee colony (maybe, a little)? The whole planet? (maybe? (often just called ‘nature’), and no)…