Philosopher and professor at UC Berkeley Alva Noe has written a book entitled “Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain, and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness”. This is a fascinating topic that spans the disciplines of biology, psychology, neuro-science, philosophy and theology.
Noe has a video on Edge the Third Culture website (hardly a Christian site) which is interesting because the conclusions drawn from this discussion mitigate against a materialistic universe held by most of the Edge crowd (Dawkins, Dennett, Gould, et al). Materialists want to make consciousness merely a function of the brain.
“The reason we have been unable to explain the neural basis of consciousness is that it does not take place in the brain…Consciousness is not something that happens inside us but something we achieve. To understand consciousness – the fact that we think and feel and that a world shows up for us – we need to look at a larger system of which the brain is only one element. Consciousness requires the joint operation of brain, body and world. You are not your brain. The brain rather is part of what you are.”
The question will be how do they link this idea with a materialist worldview.
Of course the Christian worldview has always answered this question with the soul and body composition of man. We are made up of a material and immaterial part. We are not gnostics who attribute superiority to the immaterial part, we view man as created in original holiness and good. Depravity has distorted the image of God in man, and has affected both the material and immaterial parts of man. Regeneration primarily deals with the immaterial part of man, and resurrection finalizes redemption as it is fully applied to us – the resurrection of the body being the primary focus. Consciousness resides in the immaterial part of man and uses the brain to communicate between body and soul.
Thanks to Jim O. for the heads up on the Scientific American book review of Noe’s soon to be released work.