Weblog of a Christian philosophy student

Weblog of a Christian philosophy student. Please feel free to comment. All of my posts are public domain. Subscribe to posts [Atom]. Email me at countaltair [at] yahoo.com.au. I also run a Chinese to English translation business at www.willfanyi.com.

Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Discussion on the religious instinct

This is part of a discussion I had a while back with someone about why humanity seems to have a deeply set religious instinct…

If you take your own conscious experiences and compare it to inanimate matter, or the actions of a person and compare it to how inanimate objects behave, then it seems like there's not just one kind of thing out there - inanimate matter - there's possibly two fundamentally different kinds of things, because the former stuff seems so different to inanimate matter.

Because it seems like there are two fundamentally different things in existence, it becomes in some sense rational to suppose that inanimate matter comes from the other thing rather than the other thing comes from inanimate matter - possibly because they're so different and there's two options. Although I'm not exactly sure how this intuition about it being 'the other way around' happens.

Yeah, that's the rub, your intuition that it is the other way around. Why would you assume that to be the case when we can observe that matter exists regardless of whether or not it has the property of consciousness, but you do not observe the existence of consciousness without matter. Not to say that it is not a possibility, an immaterial self dependent consciousness but why assume it, since it leaves the question unanswered as to how does matter emerge from the immaterial?

Ah, so we observe that this 'other kind of stuff' - consciousness - seems to be dependent on matter, but matter doesn't seem to be dependent on consciousness, and matter seems to have come first, so you'd assume that matter comes first.

But there's still the issue of how consciousness/the subjective seems to be a fundamentally different kind of thing to matter, regardless of those two considerations. So, I guess, it's an easy thing to think of at least, for anyone, I mean, you just switch it around, matter=>mind becomes mind=>matter; it's very easy to do. So that helps it always be an option on the table, I believe, and maybe there being only two options gives it some additional reasonableness; I'm not sure how that works.

Two important issues are: as far as our observations go, matter seems to have come first, and, two, how can matter possibly emerge from an independent mind?

But they're not too powerful as objections, I believe. Our observations wouldn't include seeing mind come first if it did come first. And it's not like we ought to know how mind originates from matter because we're so smart, I mean, it also makes a lot of sense we wouldn't know how it does, or have any idea how, even if it was true.

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