The Consciousness Cosmological Argument

(Juan Romero) #22

Well, that is a good answer to a tricky question. So, if Richard Carrier shoud not use Bayes’ Theorem to claim to prove his points, does that mean that this article right here is invalid or should not be taken into account?

(Christy Hemphill) #23

You shouldn’t feel need to express your respect for one group by expressing your disdain for and perceived superiority to the person you are in a conversation with. There are ways to point out that you don’t think an argument is worth using and you think it insults the intelligence of the people you are using it on that don’t involve making negative insinuations about the motivations or character of the person you are challenging.

(David Heddle) #24

Well, I have never found any of the classic proofs for God satisfying. I might agree with Carrier on many of his arguments against those proofs. Unless he invokes Bayes’ theorem. As soon as he tries to invoke Bayes’ theorem it’s all “I am out of here, dude!” And if you really want to read same Grade-A pseudo-intellectual nonsense, go track down his corpus on QM. Here’s a start.

(Juan Romero) #25

Thanks for the link, I really needed to laugh.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #26


Juan, thank you for your input. I appreciate your asking us for our comments on this argument.

In one sense I would say that the argument is good. It is the quantum stuff that is problematic.

Take C1. Space/time as we have learned from Einstein proves that the universe is relational, not physical or natural. Consciousness also arises out of relationality. Does this mean that space/time arises out of consciousness or visa versa.

I would agree that space/time (which is natural, but not physical) logically arises from a Conscious Personal Creator God.

Atheists seem to think that quantum physics proves that the universe has nor meaning or purpose. This is not true, but this is another story. It does prove that reductionism does not work, or does not always work.

(George Brooks) #27

I would like to point out that Richard Carrier’s denunciation of the Consciousness Argument is the normal kind of denunciation I suppose. But I find that his reasoning does not change my conclusion in the slightest.

(4) Argument from Consciousness: I also dispatch this in Bayesian terms in TEC (pp. 298-302). Theists try to focus just on the fact that conscious phenomena are weird and not yet scientifically explained, “therefore” God is the best explanation of it. But that’s a non sequitur. When we don’t know an explanation, the most likely explanation will be the one that has most commonly succeeded before when we thought something couldn’t be explained. And that’s always turned out to be physics, not God. Prior odds thus strongly favor physics, not theism, for anything as yet unexplained. We need evidence to conclude otherwise. And that’s where theists try to ignore all the pertinent evidence. When we bring all that ignored evidence back in, atheism, not theism, ends up most likely.

For example, that we need brains to generate conscious phenomena is quite unexpected if God exists. Because if God exists, disembodied minds can exist, and are the best minds to have, therefore we should also have disembodied minds. Indeed, there is no inherent reason it would even occur to a god to make our minds out of brains at all (without, again, a pile of convenient excuses). Whereas if God does not exist, the only way minds could exist is as the output of a complex physical machine that evolved slowly by natural selection over hundreds of millions of years from ultra-simple worm-brains to fish-brains, lizard-brains, mammal-brains, monkey-brains, ape-brains, hominid-brains, and eventually human brains. Just as we observe.

Therefore, the fact that thought is dependent on complex evolved brains, which are physical machines, and which also inefficiently exhaust oxygen and energy, and place us in needless risk of injury and death, and intellectual malfunction, due to their delicate vulnerability and badly organized structure, is exactly what we expect if there is no God, but not at all what we expect if there is. The Bayes Factor once again supports atheism, not theism. (For a formalization of this point, see AMBD. I also discuss six points in its favor in Sense and Goodness without God.)


Let’s look at his “deduction” about God and disembodied minds:

“For example, that we need brains to generate conscious phenomena is quite unexpected if God exists. Because if God exists, disembodied minds can exist, and are the best minds to have, therefore we should also have disembodied minds.”

But, interestingly, he immediately concludes that our minds are not disembodied - - and I think he’s wrong about that! In fact, if our brains are not disembodied… in the sense that they operate in another dimension of natural operation, there is virtually no sensible way for humans to enjoy free will!

What do I mean? If neural processing is all controlled by natural laws … then by definition, there is nothing about “thinking” and “thought” and “choice” that can be free. To be “free” … you would literally have to act like a crazy person! So, except for a small handful of my relatives, it would be pretty obvious that nobody can have freewill (as we understand the term).

But there have been cases of adults with tremendously large parts of their brains that are gone or dead, and yet they test with average IQ’s and have normal lives. Could this be an indication that human awareness and thought is channeled into the body view the Brain? This would, in fact, agree with Carrier’s point about the existence of a conscioius God would allow human minds to operate outside the brain.

Plus there is the whole issue of how to define conscious thought and awareness. Read this article on “Epiphenomena”. The whole point being made is that what we think is thinking is the effect of neural activity, rather than the neural acdtivity itself!

Very intersesting science shows that the human brain frequently makes a choice before we are aware the choice is made… and that what bubbles up as awareness of a choice about to be made … the conscious part of decision-making… doesn’t seem to be free at all. And if it isn’t “free” … it doesn’t need exist in the form of “awareness”. There is nothing about the firing of neurons that needs or guarantees consciousness.

For consciousness to emerge … something rather unusual needs to be at work … and God is as good, if not better, than virtually any other explanation.

(Juan Romero) #28

An excellent response.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #29

The experiments which seem to show this are misleading because they depict situations where the mind preprograms itself to make decisions faster than it normally does, as when a better goes to the plate looking for a fast ball.

(George Brooks) #30


If the mind is programming itself to make decisions faster … faster than the conscious part of the mind knows it is happening… that is the very point I was making.

Then it is not the Conscious Part of the mind making the decision. It is the Conscious Part of the mind that thinks it is making the decision. In tests like these, clearly it is not.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #31

Since the Conscious Mind has made the decision in advance, it is clearly making the decision. What it is not doing is making the decision in “real” time. It is a reflexive decision made in advance, but it is made by the Conscious Mind.

(George Brooks) #32


No…that’s not what was shown in the tests. The non-conscious part of the mind or brain is the entity making the decision. Consciousness doesn’t know the decision has been made until the impulses break into awareness!

You cannnot defeat the results of the test by proclaiming that the Conscious mind is making the decision … it just doesn’t know it did. That is not consciousness!

(system) #33

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