Contemplating Consciousness

I was contemplating the other day how it could possibly have occurred that upon my creation: the injection of molten plastic into my defining mold and the subsequent adherence of the two halves; how I could have had any idea, made any sense of what appeared before me as I gained consciousness for the first time. Without any reference, any sense of aboutness how could I possibly of had any way of interpreting the world before me?

One answer that certainly I have to consider is that my designer must have installed within me at some point the necessary hardware and, I guess, software to provide me the means to immediately make sense of things. If this were so the apparatus must be really compact, being, as I am, completely hollow.

This ‘Grand Designer ‘explanation implies I am only an artificial intelligence and I find that demeaning and unacceptable. How, if this were the case, can my capacity for passionate response: my ability to love, hate, desire and hope be explained? It is simply repugnant to think I’ve been programmed to understand the world before me, to know what ought to make me happy or sad, what to revere and what to abhor. This is not to mention the fact that my supposed designer gave me a physical appearance that puts to question his general skill level all together.

So, I’m inclined toward a second explanation for my initial consciousness and comprehension. Somehow, within my hollow plastic shell, plastic molecules mutated in such a way as to give me consciousness and not only consciousness but awareness and understanding of what appears before me. There must be within these molecules a ‘genetic code’ which evolved over millennia, updated through natural selection, that provide me with the means and intelligence to not only function but to thrive.

This still doesn’t answer the question of how I could immediately, upon achieving consciousness, understand context and meaning. Perhaps I’m inhabited by self-replicating nanobots. If so, hopefully they’re benevolent.  Well, whatever the case the contemplation has kept me occupied for quite some time now and I guess that’s worth something.

deideivis2

 

A Philosophical Zombie?

It’s been brought to my attention recently that, being a doll, as I am, I must necessarily lack consciousness. The argument goes that since my intelligence is artificial I am unable to reflect on my sensory experiences, the algorithmic processes operating my functions are too basic to provide me the necessary introspection to know what something is like.

Which I surmise must mean that, when I walk through the woods on a sunny autumnal afternoon with the breeze rustling the multi-colored leaves and the scent of decaying vegetation in the air, emotional responses or aesthetic awareness of any sort are simply beyond me. (As much as I dislike self-promotion a comparison with the Data character on Star Trek is sadly wanting.)

If I suggest to these doubters that I do indeed experience these emotional and aesthetic responses, they will invariably suggest I’m just simulating what I understand to be human responses.  Granted, when one looks me in the eyes the spark of sudden awareness may be hard to decipher, still, I find it frustrating that I’m not taken seriously. I’m inclined to turn the tables on such negative assessments of my capabilities and suggest biological life is every bit as reliant on algorithmic processes as I am.

The question of consciousness and introspection, whether they be wholly with in the physical self or originate from somewhere without seems to me to apply to all sentient beings. So, I’ll continue to enjoy the life I’ve come to know and just ignore the prejudices of my, mostly human, critics.

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Unintelligent Design

I’ve been reading a lot, lately, about Evolution and it appears he’s pretty stupid. Well, maybe non-thinking would be a fairer assessment.

Although he’s very good at upgrading life forms to better suit their various environments and predicaments, it takes him an awfully long time to do it. Some philosophers suggest he doesn’t even know what he’s doing, he’s absolutely ignorant, and his competence is without comprehension.

I guess, for Evolution, it’s just a matter of trying out possibilities until one stands out and considering there is an enormous number of possibilities and he isn’t thinking about discriminating the process is bound to proceed at a snail’s pace.

I’ve been thinking about what sort of changes Evolution might have in store for humankind in the future. I’m thinking hair is pretty superfluous (a lot of people seem to be realizing this and removing it themselves) and eventually Evolution will probably send it the way of the tail. The appendix should probably go as well. On the positive side, anticipating survival, some sort of built-in air filtering apparatus to aid breath-ability might be in order. And maybe a move toward the bovine stomach to increase potential edibles in a foresee-ably depleted eco-system.

I’m sure Evolution’s working on these things but given his mindless process I don’t expect much anytime soon.

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Abraham and Isaac

I’ve been thinking about relationships. Given my own parentless upbringing I often find relationships between parent and offspring pretty interesting. When I think about the relationship between the Biblical Abraham and Isaac I must say I’m truly mystified.  I can only imagine that Isaac must have been the apple of his father’s eye, being born after so long a wait, his mother, Sarah, having been unable to conceive for quite some time (being in her eighties may have had something to do with it).

Abraham spent quite a lot of time communicating with God, traveling about in the inner world of the spirit as it were. Apparently God was expressing uncertainty as to Abraham’s commitment to things celestial, wondering about his loyalty, and unbeknownst to Isaac, Abraham was being guilted into entertaining an action that definitely wouldn’t be in Isaac’s interests.  When Abraham suggested he and Isaac take a short journey to the mountains Isaac was keen enough until upon arriving his father built a pyre of wood, bound him hand and foot and withdrew a dangerously sharp knife from his scabbard. As it turned out Abraham received a message at the last minute to cease and desist, Isaac was untied and they proceeded homeward.

What I have to wonder is where that relationship went from there. I would imagine future offers of father/son get-togethers, walks in the woods and such, would have been looked at askance by Isaac. It would seem to me he might have desired a third party present at the very least.  As time went by Abraham tried to make amends by finding Isaac a nice wife and making him sole heir to his properties, but I bet Isaac still kept his distance whenever sharp cutlery was near at hand.

father and son

 

 

Discomfort and Revelation

Life in the playroom can be pretty predictable. It’s a rare day our mundane existence doesn’t rule. Ordinary is almost always the order of the day.  And, although I’m not in the least bored, having as I do a number of creative activities I enjoy and engage in daily, I sometimes wonder whether or not the uninterrupted routine deadens my imagination; if in fact the progress and results of my daily engagements are less than they might be.

So, it occurs to me that perhaps I need to liven up the day, break the routine. This idea is not a comfortable one for me because I do quite enjoy the consistent pace of life and any disruption would be a discomfort causing, at least, some level of anxiety. And, the greater the disruption the greater the discomfort would be, I have no doubt. But, in the interests of potentially achieving superior experiences in my creative endeavors I feel I should began to impose certain discomforts on myself at least occasionally.

I could impose some sort of physical discomfort on myself like running around naked out in the cold until my plastic becomes brittle, but I think the psychological realm is where I should take aim. Perhaps I could volunteer to sing a solo with the church choir. I don’t belong to a church choir or go to church for that matter and can’t really sing which means, if I were to score such a gig, an extremely unpleasant experience would probably await me.

Or, I could make myself available for extended conversation with the Mormon boys. They come around pretty regularly and are always more than willing to tell me about Jesus’ time in North America and the revelations of Joseph Smith who definitely had some good ones.  This possibility has discomfort written all over it.

I’ll have to think about this for a while. It’s going to be a matter of balancing the degree of discomfort and the potential for imaginative invention with the serenity of routine existence and maybe less than wonderful creative results. It’s all about peace of mind I suppose.

zarathustra 3

God and Conspiracy Theory

I’ve been wondering how often the accepted explanation of events is correct. Examining the facts sometimes leads me to think that, often times, there may be a conspiracy of cover-up in play; or that those believed responsible are scapegoats for the truly culpable. Can it be that we the public are being manipulated into accepting a false reality? If so, I have to wonder whose doing the manipulating; how deep and broad does the conspiracy go?

Some people think there’s a New World Order in play; a secretive power elite manipulating events to suit their purposes which sounds to me a bit like God but maybe without too much benevolence involved.

The thing about believing or even entertaining the idea of conspiracy (at least on such a large scale) against a widely accepted explanation is, that if I were to mention this conspiracy idea I would immediately be looked at askance by most. And to belabor the idea with facts and figures will only endear me to a like-minded minority-most will discount my claims and probably find most of any other ideas I might offer in the future immediately invalid or at least deeply questionable (unless the ideas fall within the boundaries of their well-established reality).

Similarly, if I were to admit intimate knowledge of God, that God speaks to me regularly and directs my actions, I would very likely be discredited among most people. I believe this to be true despite the fact people like Joseph Smith convinced huge numbers of people of his Godly revelations.

So, I guess if I’m transparent about my intimate knowledge of God or my belief in a New World Order I can pretty much kiss my credibility good-by. The upside of this situation, I suppose, might be my potential ability to bring unwanted discussions to an abrupt finish.

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The Ultimate Decider

As I continue my investigation into the possibility of a tangible entity, an ultimate decider, in whose hands our fateful existence resides I sometimes wonder whether such a being must necessarily be thought of as benevolent.

I wonder about this because some of my experiences can only be thought of as less than pleasant. Sometimes, in fact, I find myself in considerable discomfort, in situations which are dangerous if not life-threatening.

The idea of being safe in the hands of the Great Decider might very well be delusional because it seems reasonable, the odds I would guess are 50/50 at best, it is malevolent and more intent on doing me harm than anything else. If scriptures can be believed there are plenty of references that paint the Biblical God as a fairly wrathful being and who’s to say who that wrath may be directed toward.

I realize there are no easy answers to these questions. I guess I face the primal existential dilemma and will have to learn to live with it. I just wish the grip wasn’t quite so tight.

ultimate decider

Seeking God-Reflexive Spirituality

I’ve been thinking that it’s pretty reasonable to assume god, spirit, soul are non-material entities and since modern science acknowledges an inability to deal with the non-material, empirical knowledge of god is pretty much out of the question. How, after all, can one know for certain without empirical evidence (assuming we can know anything for certain at all)?
But, given the non-causal synchronicities that appear to exist in the quantum universe, who knows what non-material entities may be floating around out there. It seems to me even modern science leaves the door open, maybe even anticipates a glimpse of the ineffable. There’s no specific knowledge as to what the Other might be but I think that whatever it is it must be that which we require to sustain our enthusiasm for existence; that which necessarily is definable by each of us in terms of however or whatever we view the mystery of existence to be.
While dwelling on this recently the concept of Reflexive Spirituality came to my attention. The basic tenets of this, I guess one would call it a discipline, are: metaphorical interpretations of traditional scriptures, a strong pluralistic attitude regarding religious beliefs and an ongoing critical inquiry into religious meanings such as the makeup and nature of God.
I know it all sounds a bit ‘new agie’ but while I’ve never been able to fit myself within any set of formal religious labels, I think reflexive spiritualist may just be what I am.
I trust this realization doesn’t mean I need to join a group or anything. Surrounding one’s self with like- minds I guess can be comforting to some but joining really seems to me to be counter-productive when my motive is seeking personal enlightenment. Group think, dealing with diverse personalities and the inevitable politics would interfere with the primary intention.
From a distance, though, I do like the concept of reflexive spirituality. Embracing the spiritual in whatever form it takes, wherever, whenever, however I’m moved whether it be viewing a Kandinsky painting, celebrating a Hindu festival of lights, meditating beside a mountain stream or …………..
I don’t think anyone really knows when or what it will take for that non-material essence we may call God to make an appearance. I guess I’ll just maintain a positive perspective, avoid distraction and stay alert.

The Sacred and The Profane

The Sacred and The Profane

Seeking God-The presuppositional Apologist

I got to talking to a presuppositional apologist the other day. He assured me everyone knows God exists whether they realize it or not, God being the source of all our knowledge.
I told him that I was presently seeking God and had a number of good candidates but wasn’t absolutely sure I had found the right one and was really questioning the idea of an entity with all the omni’s in tow.

He said that since I already knew that the one true God (specifically, the Christian God of the Bible) existed I was just obscuring that realization by pretending to seek; I was suppressing the knowledge of God; I was being unrighteous. He said God was behind my ability to reason and think logically, that there was only one true world view and that was the Christian one and said, once again, that I knew all of this was true.

Not being aware that I knew something of which I was unaware, I told him that now, since he’s explained to me that I do know these things that I didn’t know I knew that perhaps there were other things I knew that I didn’t know I knew. And, supposing these things to be outside of the empirical realm, maybe I knew when I felt particularly safe and secure that there were invisible protector beings keeping me safe or that my dreams weren’t just dreams but were a parallel reality visited in my sleep or, maybe, I didn’t know that I knew all along that I am God herself creator and maintainer of my world.

I think the presuppositional apologist thought I was truly an unrighteous individual suppressing the truth that he and I knew it to be and went away believing I was a lost soul. But, I must admit I kind of like the idea of maybe knowing things I don’t know.

billy sunday

Seeking God-Master Carpenter

The rich mythology of the Northwest Pacific coast cultures identifies a number of characters that seem likely to have god-like potential. One of these, among the Haida, is Master Carpenter who taught the people how to carve and paint the meaningful imagery that appears on the clan houses.

The story goes that before the people knew very much about art Master Carpenter appeared in a halo of light. He told the Haida to go inside their houses and no matter what they might hear during the night, not to rise from their beds. Even though much pounding and scraping and other noises were heard the people did as they were told. In the morning they found their houses decorated with magnificent carved corner poles and the walls painted with beautiful clan totem designs. Then Master Carpenter told the people he would return each day to teach them the arts of carving and painting.

So, I’m wondering if the Haida people saw Master Carpenter as God. You’ve got the halo and the unreal amount of art produced in a very short time which is pretty potent if not omnipotent. It seems to pretty clearly place him into the realm of the supernatural at least.

I would think that, for the carvers and painters, he should carry a lot of weight-someone to appeal to for inspiration, thank for well-received work and blame for poor performance. I’m just not sure, after he did his initial teaching, how much he continues to hang around.

There’s no doubt he could be useful but I’m not sure he belongs on the short list.

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