Monday, May 04, 2015

The Conscious Mind and God

While having breakfast with my daughter this morning she confided that she had finally given up trying to believe in a god. She was a Christian that became a pantheistic. But recent events involving loss of a student of hers caused her to give up the idea of God altogether. She was a bit surprised to learn that even I, the family atheist, hadn't completely abandoned the idea of God.

I'm an atheist, but sometimes I hesitate to call myself that because it is a very misunderstood word. Some atheists will tell you that they are certain that there is no god. These are hard atheists. I'm not one of them. I will tell you that there certainly is no personal god who is active in people's everyday lives. In other words, the God of the bible or the Koran does not exist. This I am 100 percent certain of. There is no doubt about it. The bible is full of baloney in that regards. Jesus probably existed. But if he did, he was a socially active person with a political and religious agenda. He was not God, nor the son of God. And now he's dead. Period.

But I can't rule out the existence of one or more entities that we might call God. My life and the decisions I make are based on mostly realities that are supported by evidence. However, more realistically, I acknowledge the possibility of realities that may not have any supporting evidence but which cannot be ruled out altogether. I can rule out GOD, the one most people believe in. This God of the bible is unfeasible and as close to impossible as anything else we might call impossible. He was even impossible to the early Church, the church that later became the Catholic Church. That's why the Catholics have a doctrine that is based as much on the Nicene Creed as it is on the bible. The early church could not reconcile everything in the bible with reality, so they made up their own explanation of reality in the form of a creed and placed it equivalent to the bible in their doctrine.

But just because I can rule out the God of the bible doesn't mean I can rule out anything that might be considered a god. Our universe probably has no consciousness per se. It follows the laws of physics that we can recognize. But the universe also tends not to be wasteful, not because it has a conscience, but because wastefulness tends to violate the laws governing entropy and energy conservation. It is why atoms will automatically resolve into the lowest energy state possible if they can. It is the basis of Occam's razor. And, to me, it would seem wasteful for the universe to create an individual conscious mind and then be rid of it when the body that houses it dies. I think the conscious mind is much more complex than the biology of the brain allows for.

That doesn't mean that I "believe in" consciousness beyond death. I think most of the evidence that has been gathered points to the fact that when we die, our brain dies, and our consciousness along with it. But a post life consciousness can't be completely ruled out. The matter and energy that make up a brain is still present even after the brain is dead. What if that part of our brain that made us aware is simply a focused part of a universal "consciousness" of sort that we return to when the energy supplied by our blood flow is interrupted?

I have absolutely no evidence for this. However, it would explain a lot of unexplainable things that people have witnessed and experienced. And it would conserve something we each possess that seems to be more than simple grey matter and neurological energy. It also makes as much sense as the popular hypothesis that maybe we're all just part of a massive, futuristic video game. But what would a universal consciousness consist of? It most likely would exist as an dynamic set of quantum states within the subatomic particles that exist in space-time. I don't know; I'm not a theoretical physicist. But I do know that quantum reality can be very weird and counterintuitive. And there isn't anything law of physics that I know about that would prohibit such a quantum reality. So I'm not closing the door on that possibility just yet.

If this quantum god is real then it's not really an all-powerful, intellectual god that does things on purpose. It's just part of nature. And I am not advocating for this universal collective consciousness idea. For me, it seems to make slightly more sense than the alternative, that we just die and lose everything associated with our conscious selves. But I can't really believe in it until there is at least some evidence supporting it. Until then, I will keep open the possibility that such a thing exists. That still makes me an atheist, just not one who is willing to state with certainty that there is no such thing as god, period. Maybe with a universal consciousness, we are all just a part of "God."