The Spirit is Like Baseball

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The Spirit is Like Baseball

Consciousness is one of the few remaining gaps in science where theists go looking for evidence of a god. What better place than to look for the soul? With the arrival of Darwin and his theory of evolution, the idea of life as designed by a god became extinct scientifically. Physics has demonstrated that there is not necessarily a need for a prime mover. So it is with the study of consciousness.

While a baseball game can be reduced to the interaction of fundamental particles, there is a loss of meaning, information and perhaps causality. We certainly could describe a bat hitting a baseball from a bottom up causality of the interaction of the particles involved. However the actual information about the function and process of hitting the ball with a bat is lost: the intent of hitting a home run or knocking it over the third baseman for a single run or why the game is played at all. This type of description does not require an address of the quantum physical state. It is a matter of top down causality in which a higher state (the bat hitting the ball) informs the lower levels of causality. The interaction of the subatomic particles are informed and effected by the higher level function. The game is an emergent property that interacts with other causal phenomena.

The question of self-awareness is far more complicated than the baseball scenario. While consciousness may be non-reducible, as some recent researchers claim, it does require a reductionism to ultimately determine what functions are associated with it such as the bat, glove and bases for baseball. Is consciousness a function of the brain and simply our definition of its behavior? Or is it something emergent from those functions(neural correlates) like our baseball game? All of this is up for grabs and to fall in one camp over the other presently seems to have more to do with justifying ontological presuppositions such as theism, pantheism, panentheism, dualism, monism or atheism rather than determining the actual nature of consciousness. What can be demonstrated is that consciousness is dependent on the physical world and matter to exist just as was our baseball game. Take the ball away and there is no more game. Remove a section of the brain and there is no more consciousness. Rather than a spirit in a body we appear to be more of a game inside a video screen reacting to the external buttons of the world.

"You can't write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whip cream."--Frank Zappa Books on atheism