I had a brief exchange with a good friend on Facebook recently. My friend is basically a freethinker like me and, I believe, an agnostic. But one area where we disagree centers on the issue of dualism, or the notion that the mind is somehow separate from the physical brain. I don’t want to do my friend the disservice of paraphrasing his words and mischaracterizing his position, so I’m going to quote our exchange verbatim.
It is truly amazing and confounding, trying to figure out the “hard problem” of consciousness. But it’s a physical system. No miracles required.
Let me ask you. The fact that there is anything (physical or non-physical) seems to conjure up perplexing question as to how it came into existence. I can think of only two options. One, it always existed. Two, it came from nothing. Neither one of these makes logical sense. Yet – I’m sure something exists – either physical or my mind.
So didn’t something defy all logic to exist? Isn’t it reasonable to say this is miraculous? Isn’t it also very humbling ~ to degree being too sure of one’s opinions is almost silly.
What form of physical matter could either create itself from nothing OR just always exist? If you can’t answer then how do you know it’s all a “physical system?”
Obviously my friend is a deep thinker and for that I am grateful. I relish the opportunity to discuss these things, so I promised him I would answer when I had enough time to collect my thoughts. I decided to eschew Facebook and form my response in my long-neglected blog. (Another friend made me think of my blog today.) So here goes. Read the rest of this entry