We believe we live in a REAL world

where humans have a kind of consciousness or mind that rocks and most animals don’t have.

 

Consequently, humans know–without question–that they

 

(1) exist, (2) can perceive, and (3) have feelings,

 

but for

 

THE FINAL TWO

 

of the 5 AXIOMS that we accept as fundamental…

[Yes, you must use the DOOR for MORE.]

 

[MORE]

 

Remembering that the consciousness or mind in its unmeasurable complexity is housed (at least while Earth-bound) in the brain, there’s…

Axiom #4:  I CAN THINK.

Though it comes next, defining “thinking” seems hardly necessary. Early in the morning, my body, with its head on top, probes the depth of the water before shallow diving off the end of the dock you see in the picture. I can see the bottom, but can I miss it again coming down headfirst, and as I stand will the rocks down there hurt my feet? my mind (M) asks itself. In I go. If I swim halfway across the lake, wonders M (which certainly won’t egg on my body to do!), then swim half the remaining distance, then half the distance again after that, and so on, always going halfway, will I ever get to the other side before I die? Why do my lips curl into a smile when M thinks of that? I keep moving through the water. My limbs are waking up.

M suddenly reminds me of a riddle that I put in my story, “The Seven Chests.” I paint pictures in my mind of the contents of each chest. Then, I “change” my “mind” and erase the image. In another riddle in my story, “The Fourth Prince” in my in-progress novel The Blood of Three Worlds, a king poses a problem to one of his young servants who mysteriously appears from nowhere: “A knight, a squire, and a page, all bareheaded, stand in a line one behind the other. From a bag containing only 5 helmets–3 gold and 2 painted green–another servant randomly draws out 3 helmets and places one on the head of the knight, then one on the head of the squire, then one on the head of the page so that no one sees the color of the helmet he’s wearing. The page, seeing the two in front of him, is asked, ‘Do you know the color of the helmet on your head and, if so, how do you know it?’ The page (honestly) replies, ‘No, I don’t.” Then the squire, seeing only one person in front of him, is asked the same question. ‘No, I don’t,’ he (honestly) replies. Thirdly, the knight hearing both replies from the two behind him but not seeing anyone’s helmet, is asked the same question. What does he answer? And why does he answer the way he does?’” *

Time to climb out, towel off, and do Po Wol (my favorite leg-friendly karate form) on the dock…

Now, back to thinking

Now consider–just briefly–a butterfly, a pelican, a snail, my cat, an ape. All can survive and reproduce in their environments. The first two can fly up and down and around making decisions out of reach of humans. The Monarch butterfly even can migrate (starting this month, by the way) 2000 miles to a small area in Mexico. My cat can see late at night better than I can, but he’s not better than me at seeing color. And a snail? is simply a snail. My cat and the ape, and even the amazing birds do a lot of perceiving and possess a limited amount of feeling, and a certain amount of what we call “thinking,” but it stops far, far short of what we can do–and  actually do all the time without realizing it!

How do I put my early morning adventure into perspective alongside the other creatures around me? Of course I’m not inside their heads to be absolutely sure what’s going on there, but I’m pretty confident of the following:

For example, none of these creatures could solve my riddle. Or even know what a riddle is. (And to show how footnotes can be useful, the “helmet” solution, if you need it, is below*.)

None could understand what “helmets” have to do with heads or anything else.

None could understand the difference between a “story” and reality.

None could understand the idea of a story within a story.

Or why I’m telling a story.

Or why I decided to change from telling one story to telling another.

Or why I took time to do whatever I did.

Or why I was dealing with ideas rather than doing real things.

To them, if the animals were perceiving me at all, I was pushing my fingers (“fore toes?”) up and down much as a cat would pump and preen against a pillow.

Nothing more.

(Or nothing more that I could prove…)

Mentally, the consciousness or mind of humans is dealing with facts and ideas on a level categorically higher than the minds of animals, despite the fact that animals can do a few things that humans cannot (fly, migrate, or see differently, etc.)

Axiom #5:  I CAN CHOOSE.

This ties in with much we’ve said about thinking.

And it is easy to overlook the materialist belief that much, if not all**, thinking and choosing that humans do is determined or fixed by the events our bodies encounter. Or that a given stimulus our bodies sense will lead to a certain reaction. And what we think we’ve figured out and are logically doing isn’t our independent choice at all. It’s an illusion. In short, “I”–or my consciousness or mind–has no real say in the matter. Philosophically, materialism (or naturalism) is connected with what’s called determinism, which is pretty glum to think about. We reject it as being too simplistic and unproven (whether the stimuli we’ve received “demand” this or not!).

Obviously, this is a big issue that can’t be fully explored in a few paragraphs. But as some materialists and determinists–who essentially suggest, or imply that what persons do or will do is already “fixed”–it’s hard to see why they, for moral reasons, would ever fiercely advocate going against “the flow of some social policy” if surrounding circumstances weren’t personally beneficial to them. Yet many people (regardless of religious persuasion) do this very thing, and often at great personal sacrifice.

Be aware that good arguments can be made to say that we can choose much of the direction we travel. If nothing else I could use “random number generators” repeatedly to make key decisions about whether I should I do A, B, C, or something else so no prediction can be made about what I will do (other than, perhaps, provide some “clues” why I was driven to use random number generators).

We agree with philosopher Keith Ward who, we’ve quoted several times. Our arguments, if they seem weak, should not be blamed on him. In our quick survey of the big picture of how philosophy, science, and religion (of which we’ve so far said little though implied much), we feel he does a good job tying together the best of the new science with the best of established philosophy. In conclusion we quote him:

“The success of the physical sciences has led to a quite widely held view among the scientifically literate that all that exists is matter or some sort of physical stuff. Human beings are often presented as the accidental results of millions of genetic copying mistakes and freak accidents of nature. Their cherished ideals of value, freedom, and purpose are illusions, since humans are nothing but the puppets of blind and mechanical forces of nature, and their consciousness is doomed to inevitable extinction, having never been more than a by-product of cosmic processes to which they are completely unimportant.

“…this picture of human life is both scientifically questionable and philosophically naivé.”

Ward, opposed to materialism, goes on to say he is one of those who “believe that there is a distinctive reality and value about human minds, and that such minds far transcend their physical embodiments both in their nature and moral worth.” Even more, Ward considers human persons “a window into the inner reality, value, and purpose of the cosmos.”***

For butterflies, pelicans, snails, apes, and my cat, that is out of the question.

We’ll pull it a bit more together next time.

__________________________________

* For those still looking for the solution, here it is:  If the page sees 2 green helmets in front of him (one on the squire and one on the knight) he would know he had to wear gold. But he obviously didn’t see two. The squire, then, must see gold on the knight’s head. If he didn’t, and saw green instead, he would know he also had to wear green. The knight, hearing these two comments but seeing nothing, knew he had to wear a gold helmet. [And the colors, trivial here, are not the story since they represent two important political factions...]

** Realize the materialism is not quite as monolithic as we are suggesting. There are nuances of belief. Still, we hold to the major thrust of our argument.

*** Keith Ward, More Than Matter? (Lion, 2010).

–For the record, my “flat Florida image while observing the Interstate” didn’t make the final cut as promised…Later on, maybe…–