Consciousness Letter 2
What do we know and what do we believe?
You can read the first letter in the series here.
Ever since your letter on Monday, I’ve been examining and reexamining my knowledge and beliefs about consciousness.
It’s important that we keep those two things, knowledge and belief, disentangled.
You started your letter with this question, “What is consciousness?”
My short answer is, I don’t know.
Is consciousness the same thing as the soul? Is it the “divine spark” that Ralph Waldo Emmerson spoke of us, and all of nature, possessing?
Consciousness is the great mystery of neurology, theology, and even artificial intelligence. Science suggests that consciousness is a particular constellation of neurons, but the exact details still elude researchers.
Most Christian theology suggests that consciousness is a creation of God. Hence, Emerson’s spark.
We don’t know what consciousness is in the tangible sense, and we have not seen consciousness, only the results of it. However, there are other ways of knowing, aren’t there?
Even before you have tangible evidence, you can know something with your heart. This type of knowledge is more than just belief. It is something you feel as if the universe herself whispered it to your heart, skipping your five senses altogether.
This week, after receiving your letter, and quite unconnected to our project here (or so I thought), I began reading Dean Young’s book about poetry called, The Art of Recklessness.
On the first page, he says:
The creation of art, okay, just the attempt at the creation of art, as well as the appreciation of it, is both enlarging of the world and an expanding of consciousness.
Young seems to view consciousness the same way as Thoreau, Emerson, and the other transcendentalists—it’s a kind of energy field that connects all of us with something greater.
This also seems to be what you believe (or know?) about consciousness. My question for you is, how do you make the case to a skeptic that reality as we know it is connected to our universal consciousness?
I look forward to hearing from you!