I was discussing the basis of religion with a friend at a party. He is a serious theologian and a born again Christian. When the subject of existence of God came up, my friend said that the best argument was made by Saint Thomas Aquinas in his “The Five Ways”. I decided that it is best to go to the source and evaluate it.
St. Thomas was a pretty good logician, but the unscientific and erroneous beliefs held in his time makes many of his conclusions irrelevant now that we know the universe better. St. Thomas used the knowledge of the ancients, mainly that of of Aristotle to form his worldview. He did not have the benefit of modern science. The discoveries of DesCartes, Bacon, Newton, Einstein and other modern thinkers and experimenters had not been made.
One of St. Thomas’ most important theses in Summa Theologica is The Five Ways – considered by some as a conclusive proof of the existence of God. (more…)
Throughout all of history, folks have tried to determine what it is that makes a person have consciousness. What is it that makes the light illuminating our mind with awareness of being?
No one has found a physical “thing” in a person that could be called a soul. In spite of the images in Harry Potter, Ghost and other works, no structure, vapor or essence has been identified as the soul or consciousness. I suggest that the reason is that the soul is an action, not a thing. In I am a Strange Loop, Doug Hofstadter makes a convincing case that human consciousness consists of a self referential strange loop.
I don’t think Doug completed his thesis. He left the nature of the strange loop as simply “something” within the cranium. The definition of a loop can be anything from a complete electrical circuit, anything round or oval that is closed or nearly closed, a curl or coil, or finally, a computer program sequence that repetitively executes a series of instructions. If one looks at a strange loop as an algorithm that recursively refers to both new input and itself, a clearer picture of what might be consciousness arises.
DesCartes said, cogito ergo sum (“I think, therefore I am”). He should have said “I think, and this makes me be”. Thinking is consciousness – while we are awake and aware the strange loop is the execution of thought. It depends on all the inputs from our senses, the state of our body and all the memories and associations or “tokens” we have developed through life.