Atheists: is there any evidence for consciousness?

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You know you’re conscious and you may believe that others are too, but there’s no evidence for that which could be rigorously tested. There is no empirical difference between a world without consciousness and one with it. Nevertheless, consciousness is a fact. How is belief in consciousness different than belief in God? Consciousness is an extraordinary thing, its existence cannot be demonstrated and no evidence can be produced for it – not intelligent activity or rational processing: consciousness. What’s the essential difference between God and consciousness in this respect?
So far, none of these answers demonstrates consciousness scientifically or by _sensory_ observation. All they’re doing is describing observed behaviour. And no, you don’t have to be conscious to read this and understand it.
Very familiar with Dennett. Not at all impressed with that particular area of his thought.

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Yes. Consciousness can be observed at a cellular level. Humans and other higher mammals have one.

Jeff S Oops

I think therefore I am.

thecrocoduck (RAWR)

Conscious has to be operationalized for the sake of this discussion.

Dustin M

This is why I’m only 100% certain of one thing: That I exist.
There is SOME degree of faith about everything else. There is SOME degree of faith that the earth is real, for example. It’s possible that it’s not; and it’s all some trick, illusion, or dream of mine.
But it’s impossible that I do not exist.


You can hook people up to machines and look at their brains do stuff when they think about stuff.


wow if only it were that easy. I’d be a zealot!

Richter 8.6

“What’s the essential difference between God and consciousness in this respect?”
I can observe the phenomenon we call ‘consciousness’ in myself and others. That observational data shifts the concept from being faith-based to being a hypothesis.
No one has ever shown me any way to observe ‘god’ or ‘gods’. They have provided methods that they claim allows THEM to observe their god, but it has never worked for me – and I have tried, out of sincerity.

Boot Hat

Your entire question relies on your beliefs of the nature of the universe. A panentheist would tell you that the universe IS consciousness/God. In the same respect, the entire universe could be conscious and it would not have any bearing over whether or not there was a God.
Or the universe is not conscious.
Either way, it has no bearing over whether or not there is a God.

Vintage Barbie

Cogito ergo sum.


They will give you some cheap answer as they usually do.

Invisible Talker

And I suppose you think I don’t have to be conscious to be able to read this question of yours? And that you don’t necessarily have to be conscious in order to ask it?
If that’s what you think then I’m entitled to point out what a ridiculous view that is.
Edit: Oh please, yours is an awful argument. I didn’t think you’re asking this seriously but if you really must be pointed out an example of evidence for the existence of consciousness, then note that consciousness can be detected in a person’s brain with the use of an MRI. With one you can determine if a person is conscious, and it’s manifested as a specific kind of electrochemical activity pattern that has to be present for the person to be able to do anything at all (besides normal bodily functions like having a heartbeat).
And it’s totally ridiculous to claim that a person could ask this question without being conscious. When one does not have consciousness, one is unconscious and unable to do anything at all.

Surreal Dissolution

There is evidence for consciousness given that this reality is real. For example, if someone has a healthy functioning brain, which is constantly making connections between synapses, then a person can experience thought. If a brain is dead or not functioning, a person can not experience thought or move their body or even breathe on their own. A functioning brain can be tested with MRI’s or brain wave detectors. Consciousness is a physical action that occurs in the functioning brain. That is why brain dead people don’t respond to stimuli. If they were conscious there would be some physical reaction to stimuli.


To be able to ask the question is to answer it.


I think the ‘consciousness’ is too broad a concept. I think it can be broken down into smaller pieces and tested in that respect. What is consciousness? We have our five senses; taste, touch, smell, sight, hearing. We can test those. We can test the brain’s reactions within those parameters. We can make hypotheses and theories based on scientific tests. We can make conclusions based on said tests.
All we have with your gods is faith. One can make hypotheses based on faith but it still boils down to faith. And what is faith, folks? A belief in something without any proof.


Yes, there is evidence for consciousness. We even know that we are not the only animals to exhibit self-awareness. The most basic test for consciousness is the mirror test. That’s not entirely true, the most basic test for consciousness is the test for self-consciousness. Cogito ergo sum.
Nice try, though. And by “nice” I mean “pathetic”.
Oh, and the essential difference is that we live in a universe in which there is consciousness evident, so if consciousness were not real, it would be a masquerade. We live in a world were gods are *not* evident, so if they are real, then their existence would be the masquerade.


Consciousness is demonstrable and testable. Typically by simple things like reacting to the environment. Look it up. They’re doing a lot of tests for consciousness in animals lately and finding they are more conscious than previously thought.
Time to find a new argument against Atheists.

No chance without Dionysus

Which god?

Creation Crusher 5000

1. I can think about my thoughts
2. Therefore, I am conscious
3. Also, god exists
Fail. You’re not paying attention in General Psych.

Marcus wants meat

Modern neuroscience does indeed answer your question.
Components of consciousness can be tested, measured and explained.
See this very short list
Daniel Dennett’s “Consciousness Explained”
Nicholas Humphrey’s “The Inner Eye”
Susan Blackmore’s “Conversations on Consciousness”
Steven Pinker’s “The Stuff of Thought”
Belief in God is also well explained by modern evolutionary psychologists:
Scott Atran’s “In Gods We Trust”
Pascal Boyer’s “Religion Explained”

Hippie Mama loved the Gathering

The evidence for consciousness is strictly experiential. It’s like happiness. You can’t *prove* that it exists. If I tell you I’m happy you pretty much have to accept it. Or not. If I tell you I’m conscious you can believe it or not but you can’t prove or disprove it.
I disagree that “consciousness is a fact.” It seems that it exists, but we can’t prove it. It’s entirely possible that consciousness itself is an illusion.
I suppose you could say that it’s the same with some people’s contention that a god or gods exist, but most theists *don’t* point only to their own subjective experiences to affirm the existence of deities. Usually, their argument is something else entirely.


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