CONSCIOUSNESS, ACCEPTING THE BEST EXPLANATION

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Hamza Andreas Tzortzis recently published an essay on consciousness, in which he aptly demonstrated that materialism cannot explain the phenomenon we know as consciousness in particular the hard problem of consciousness. He concluded his paper by inferring that God as the best explanation for conscious states. Furthermore Hamza explained why God was the best explanation by providing a five point breakdown which I have shared at the bottom of this post.

However some people have completely dismissed his explanation, claiming it does not explain anything, that this is the “GOD OF THE GAPS!” fallacy and so on, which is quite absurd. His inference quite clearly provides a cogent answer with great explanatory power, no one is trying to squeeze God into a gap. It seems to me that the problem is not that God is the best explanation; rather the problem seems to be well why should we accept this explanation since we don’t have an explanation for God? I believe there are good reasons to believe in God however this is a vast topic in and of itself and I will save it for future posts (God willingly). What people seem to be overlooking is the fact that the best explanation does not require an explanation.

In other words you cannot or should not reject God as an inference to the best explanation for consciousness on the basis that you may not have an explanation for God. The first thing that needs to be addressed is does God explain consciousness adequately? I believe he does, once you accept this then we can ask further questions.

Here’s an analogy to put things into perspective, imagine if there is a group of archaeologists digging on the moon; they find pieces of pottery, arrow heads, pieces of parchment and so on. Looking at these findings they conclude or infer that there must have been a civilization here. Now along comes Dr. Daniel Dennett and says “How dare you infer such a thing?! Who put this civilization here?! Unless we know who put this civilization here we cannot conclude that there was a civilization!”

This illustrates the point, you cannot reject the best explanation based on the fact that you may not have an explanation for that explanation because otherwise you may never have an explanation.

Now going back to the essay the question we need to ask is did Hamza provide an explanation and explain why it is the best explanation? I believe the answer is yes and quite evidently so. Therefore  the most rational thing to do is accept the best explanation or at the very least consider it. The following is an excerpt from the essay for you to judge for yourself.

In conclusion I would like to say that as human beings we need to put aside our intellectual and emotional baggage sometimes and look at things objectively to truly get closer to the truth, just because we may not like a particular notion does not render it false.

Excerpt from Consciousness and the New ScientistMagazine: Reflections on False Materialist Assumptionshttp://www.iera.org/research/blog/consciousness-and-the-new-scientist-magazine-reflections-on-false-materialist-assumptions-hamza-tzortzis

“In light of this, how do we explain consciousness in light of the failed materialist attempts to comprehensively explain our subjective personal experiences. Here is a summary of five main reasons why God is the best explanation:

1. Firstly it answers a question that none of the existing views have answered: where did consciousness come from? Professor J.P. Moreland explains how it could not have been via natural physical processes:

“Our knowledge of the natural world would give us positive reasons for not believing that irreducible consciousness would appear in it, e.g. the geometrical rearrangement of inert physical entities into different spatial structures hardly seems sufficient to explain the appearance of consciousness.”[17]

If matter and consciousness are distinct, it follows that consciousness could not have emerged from matter. In order to explain the fact that subjective conscious experiences exist, God must have created consciousness. Moreland summarises this point:

“The truth is that naturalism has no plausible way to explain the appearance of irreducible, genuine mental properties/events in the cosmos…when compared to the rich explanatory resources for theism…”[18]

2. Secondly, theism answers how consciousness could have entered the physical world. God’s comprehensive will and Divine activity ensure a world-the physical and non-physical. Charles Taliaferro explains:

“But in a theistic view of consciousness, there is no parlor trick or discrete miraculous act of God behind the emergence of consciousness. Consciousness emerges from the physical cosmos through an abiding comprehensive will of God that there be a world of physical and non-physical objects, properties, and relations. The relation between matter, energy, consciousness, the laws of space-time, tout court, all stem from an overwhelming, divine, activity.”[19]

3. Thirdly, theism has greater explanatory power. According to a materialist’s view, consciousness seems to have miraculously popped in to existence without any adequate physical explanation. However, theism doesn’t face this problem, as the emergence of consciousness is viewed as part of reality. Since God is conscious, alive and All-Aware, it is not implausible that the world that He created contains beings with conscious awareness of themselves. Taliaferro similarly concludes:

“From the vantage point of a fundamentally materialist cosmology, the emergence of consciousness seems strange; it is likened to claiming ‘then a miracle happens.’ But from the vantage point of theism, the emergence of consciousness may be seen as something deeply rooted in the very nature of reality. The creation of animal and human consciousness is not some isolated miracle, but a reflection of the underlying structure of reality.”[20]

4. Fourthly, theism explains the interaction between nonphysical mental and physical brain states. God’s will and power has enabled such interaction to take place, as this interaction is part and parcel of reality that God has created. Simply, if in the beginning of the cosmos all you had was matter then you would never get consciousness. However, if in the beginning there was a type of consciousness that created the physical world then it follows the interaction between the nonphysical mental states and physical brain states.

5. Fifthly, theism explains our ability to have subjective conscious states and the fact that we have an awareness of what it is to be like ourselves, experiencing tastes, sounds and textures. Since the universe was created by an Ever-Living, Alive, All-Aware being, it follows that we have been given this capacity to be aware of our inner subjective states:

“God, there is no god except Him, the Ever Living.”[21]

“And He is the All-subtle, the All-aware.”[22]

 

 

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CONSCIOUSNESS, ACCEPTING THE BEST EXPLANATION

5 thoughts on “CONSCIOUSNESS, ACCEPTING THE BEST EXPLANATION

  1. Assalamu alaikum brother Imran,

    Jazakallah Khairan for this great post. I recently wrote a response on my blog to some “ex-Muslims” that have been getting a lot of media attention recently; the link is here: http://muslim604.wordpress.com/2014/06/05/response-to-heina-dadabhoy-and-sadaf-ali/

    Could you please read it over and critique what I wrote? Obviously it’s not as good as Hamza’s response to the Young Atheist’s Handbook but I was trying to engage with them without trying to be argumentative or aggressive… so please let me know if I did anything right or what to improve on in the future In Sha Allah.

    May Allah reward you for your work.

    Salaam,

    Yousuf
    @Muslim604

    Like

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