Origin Of Life Vs. Origin Of Consciousness: Which Is Harder To Tackle?


In this Forbes article Origin Of Life Vs. Origin Of Consciousness: Which Is Harder To Tackle?, Roman Catholic writer John Farrell notes,

"It seems to be the job of theologians to worry more about the limits of science than scientists do themselves. But that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy hashing it out together.

You just have to know where to look."

(John Dalton) #2

Since we’re quoting:

I don’t think consciousness is currently a tractable problem, and so I’m just not worrying about it:clap:

Interesting segment!

(George Brooks) #3


The inseparable barrier between one human’s mind and all the other millions of minds is a pretty difficult chasm to breach.

Philosopher Dennett has a special lecture just on that topic…

(John Dalton) #4

I’ve listened to this before, but I think I will again–I can’t recall it too well. Interesting stuff, but it’s one of those things like free will and solipsism that (though I’m probably missing something lol) I don’t really get all the hubbub about. This is an interesting overview



From a scientific point of view, I don’t think there is much of a mystery as to the origin of consciousness. It is understood to be a product of the brain. The origin of consciousness is already roughly understood from the evolutionary and developmental points of view. We know that somewhere between a single celled zygote and a conscious human there are developmental pathways that build the brain and produce consciousness. From the evolutionary point of view, we know that the mutations that separate us from non-sentient species or non-conscious species are the mutations that explain consciousness. All that is left to do is figure out specifically how those developmental pathways work and which specific mutations are important. Figuring out these details is going to take a ton of effort, and as the old adage goes, the juice may not be worth the squeeze.

The origin of life is a much bigger mystery. It’s not as if we see base chemicals combining and producing life all of the time like we do with embryonic development and conscious humans. We still don’t have a strong idea of where to even start with abiogenesis.

Which is harder to tackle? Depends on how you define “harder”. Consciousness is an easy task from a theoretical point of view, but much harder from a technical aspect. Abiogenesis is a much harder task from a theoretical point of view, but would easier from a technical aspect once the theory is hashed out.

(George Brooks) #6


Well, solipsism is probably easier than free will.

Solipsism simply says that you are the only person you can literally know for sure are “aware”. Everyone else could be non-conscious, but acting like they are conscious … OR… ultimately… everything else in the Universe is a projection of your own conscious mind.

The sticking point: how could a person ever know the conscious mind of someone else without becoming that someone else?

Would there ever be a time in the millions of years to come, where two different “souls” were in complete communion with each other consciously? Is that definitionaly possible? Is that what Heaven would be like? Or is that what the Eternal Pit of Fire would be like?