God new evidence

GOD: new evidence


Is Consciousness a Performance?

(Beyond Ourselves #08)

What's in the series?      Previous: Is Consciousness an Illusion?      Next: Is Consciousness a Side Effect?

In his TV series 'The Brain,' Professor David Eagleman sets out to discredit the idea of a soul or spirit.  But his account of things is profoundly self-contradictory:

Consciousness a performance

Eagleman claims that ‘Consciousness is a performance our brain puts on for us.’ But what does this even mean? What could it mean? Who is the ‘us’ in this sentence? It has to mean a conscious observer – otherwise it does not make any sense. But if it is a conscious observer, then the claim is nonsense: 'consciousness is a performance put on for consciousness.’

Reasons for what you believe

Eagleman goes on to say: ‘Almost every action that you take, every decision that you make, every belief that you hold – these are driven by parts of the brain that you have no access to.’

But this is something that Eagleman believes. So does it apply to itself? Is his belief about this driven by parts of his brain that he has no access to?  If it is, why think that it is true?  And if it is not, then he is contradicting himself. Or are we supposed to think that his beliefs are exempt from this problem, but everyone else’s beliefs are victims of it?

Eagleman cannot live consistently on the basis of what he believes about our brains. No-one could. We may say that this is what we believe, but we cannot live on the basis of it.

But if the idea that we are just brain cells and chemicals, just atoms and molecules, contradicts itself, and if no-one can live as if it is true, is there any reason to take it seriously?

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‘Clearly there are religious implications whenever you start to discuss the origins of the Universe. There must be religious overtones. But I think most scientists prefer to shy away from the religious side of it.’- Professor Stephen Hawking