Consciousness

A recent link to Eric Schwitzgebel at Metafilter caused me to reflect on a conversation I had with a friend.  The philosopher in question critiques classical notions of self-knowledge and consciousness, that we are generally unaware of how we experience the world.

There were a few reasons I became a theist.  It wasn’t because I believed in Platonic Cosmology, or subscribed to the medieval imagination.  I never quite bought into the structure of classical theology either, with it’s emphasis on omnipotence, omniscience and omnibenevolence, although I’ve read some interesting interpretations from the Eastern Orthodox tradition.

But I did get stuck on consciousness, free will and order.  Once I decided that we could not quite solve the problem of consciousness, God became a possibility.   My atheism could not be certain, nor could it be judged as beneficial.  It simply concealed other Gods within, a different puppeteer.   Perhaps it was internal, but it need not be.  What I wanted was a God that allowed some kind of consciousness to be true, and Christianity provided a convincing narrative for me to understand my own experiences.

Free will provided a different problem.  Is our agency our own?  How do we actually choose?  Is our perception correct?  Theology has often linked conscience, choice and free will as moments, as events of the spirit.

And last, is the world ordered or not?  It may not be, but once we declare it is ordered, it seems that God takes on that place where order and disorder meet, but the even deeper ground of order between the two.

Granted, philosophers provide some precise and elegant ways of talking about the mind; scientists have some understanding of the brain.  But our experience of freedom remains a mystery, and the wonder, awe and reverence we have toward our capacities and the infinit universe we find ourselves, the most accurate words to describe that state most properly remain religious.

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