Friday, 22 January 2010
I know I can't prove God exists but...
I know I can't prove God exists, but I was thinking about that today.
I had a tutorial this morning for my group project this term, and we're looking at executive functions. These are the processes in your brain which exert control over the other processes. We were talking about some research which investigated a number of putative executive processes and it brought up the question of the use of strategy when performing tasks, and how this decision was made. How is it decided which control process should be used? Psychologists are long past the stimulus-response ideas of the Behaviourists, which suggested that everything we do is an automatic trained response to present stimuli, so we concluded that strategy wasn't simply dictated by the task at hand. Aside from anything else, there are often numerous strategies which can be used so the choice is not always an automatic one.
I suggested maybe the choice was made by the conscious self. Like "you" decide which strategy to use, and another girl in my class (whose name completely escapes me) asked in return what process regulated consciousness? Not as in whether you're awake or asleep, but what is going on in your mind consciously, what you think and so on.
Now that is a very good question. If we continue to hypothesise and research and develop new methodological and statistical techniques, will we eventually be able to reduce the whole of cognition down to a series of processes? Or do we believe that human consciousness is something special, which can't just be measured with a big scanner or factor analysed out of a questionnaire. It's the whole mind-body question all over again.
This was something I studied in philosophy in high school (something which I gave up as soon as I was able, for the most part), and at the time, I guess I didn't really get to the nub of it. I mean I never really though that I or anyone else was just a series of biological functions. Then we might as well all be slugs, and where's the fun in that. What I never realised was the importance of the question, and at least in my eyes, that there is really only one possible answer.
The human mind is so creative. Every second we think thing we've never though before, we say things we've never said before, we organise things we've never done before, we draw things we've never drawn before. If everything was a biological process, then because of evolution (let's not get into that right now, it's a whole other question) it would theoretically all have been done before already. But it hasn't. Human beings are creative because they were created. They're not just biology because they didn't just happen thanks to a big old science accident.
Sometimes I wonder if there really is a God, and other times I could possibly doubt it.