digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:


Applied sciences






















The argument from consciousness is an argument for the existence of God based on consciousness.

Philosophical summary of the argument[edit]

The argument may be stated in inductive or deductive form[1]

Inductive form[edit]

Given theism and naturalism as live options fixed by our background beliefs, theism provides a better explanation of consciousness than naturalism, and thus receives some confirmation from the existence of consciousness.

Deductive form[edit]

  1. Genuinely nonphysical mental states exist.
  2. There is an explanation for the existence of mental states.
  3. Personal explanation (PE) is different from natural scientific explanation (NSE).
  4. The explanation for the existence of mental states is either a PE or a NSE.
  5. The explanation is not an NSE.
  6. Therefore the explanation is a PE.
  7. If the explanation is PE, it is theistic.
  8. Therefore, the explanation is theistic.

Theists such as Robert Adams[2] and Richard Swinburne[3] have advanced slightly a different version of this argument which focuses on mental/physical correlations and not merely the existence of mental states.


The first premise, assertion that non-physical mental states exist, implies a dualist view of mind. Therefore, one serious line of attack is to argue the case for physicalism about the human mind.[4] Moreland takes the arguments for the first premise and refers to classic defenses of dualism. However, the first premise is rejected by many philosophers of mind. Frank Jackson, known for the knowledge argument in support of dualism about the mind, comments on the debate between physicalist and dualist conceptions of mind:

Much of the contemporary debate in the philosophy of mind is concerned with the clash between certain strongly held intuitions and what science tells us about the mind and its relation to the world. What science tells us about the mind points strongly towards some version or other of physicalism. The intuitions, in one way or another, suggest that there is something seriously incomplete about any purely physical story about the mind ... Most contemporary philosophers given a choice between going with science and going with intuitions, go with science. Although I once dissented from the majority, I have capitulated and now see the interesting issue as being where the arguments from the intuitions against physicalism—the arguments that seem so compelling—go wrong.[5]

If one is willing to accept the first premise that reductive forms of physicalism are false, then the argument takes off. Thus, one could think of Moreland as making an argument that tries to move a person from "rejecting physicalism" to "accepting theism". The crucial step in this move is the fifth premise, which asserts that naturalism can not account for non-physical mental states. A simple critique of this premise is offered by Andrew Melnyk:

Naturalism can easily explain how the universe came to contain physically irreducible conscious occurrences. It can do so by supposing that, among the fundamental laws governing the universe, there are some according to which, whenever such-and-such complex nonconscious occurrences occur, so-and-so conscious occurrences occur; perhaps such a law says that, whenever a human brain attains a certain kind and degree of complexity, a pain is experienced. Given such laws, the capacity for consciousness that some creatures enjoy, like the capacity for breathing, can be explained as having arisen through natural selection. Through mutation, some creature was born with a brain of the requisite kind and degree of complexity to generate conscious experiences; and then, because these experiences increased the creature's fitness, such creatures were selected for.[6]

However Moreland charges that such attempts to accomade consciousness within an atheistic worldview are ad hoc and contrived and fail to take into account many features of conscious experience.[7] Moreland spends much of the book defending this premise against philosophers, such as Michael Martin, who accept pluralist naturalism. He also critiques contemporary philosophers of mind such as John Searle, Timothy O' Connor, Colin McGinn, David Skriba, Philip Clayton and Jaegwon Kim, who attempt to account for consciousness.

Finally, one can also question premise seven: why does a personal explanation have to lead to monotheistic (as opposed to deistic or polytheistic) accounts of intention?[8] However, Moreland maintains that questioning these minor premises are of little consolation to the naturalist as they essentially constitute intramural theist debates, and that for most westerners theism is the only viable candidate to accommodate personal explanations. Similarly Occam's razor can be applied so only one personal agent is required.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Both these are following J. P Moreland "The Argument from Consciousness" in The Rationality of Theism ed Paul Copan and Paul Moser, London:Routeledge (2003) ISBN 0-415-26332-8 and J. P Moreland "Consciousness and The Existence of God"
  2. ^ see Robert Adams "Flavors, Colors and God" reprinted in Contemporary Perspectives on Religious Epistemology OUP (1992) pp225-40
  3. ^ see Richard Swinburne The Existence of God Oxford:Clarendon (1979) Ch 9; The Evolution of the Soul 183-9 etc.
  4. ^ Melnyk, Andrew (2007). "A Case for Physicalism about the Human Mind"
  5. ^ Jackson, Frank Cameron (2003) "Mind and Illusion", in Minds and Persons, Cambridge University Press
  6. ^ Melnyk, Andrew (2007). "Naturalism, Free Choices, and Conscious Experiences"
  7. ^ Moreland,J.P. (2007). "Argument from consciousness"
  8. ^ Steven J. Conifer (2001). "The Argument from Consciousness Refuted".

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_consciousness — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
611383 videos foundNext > 

J.P. Moreland Responds to Criticisms of the Argument from Consciousness

J.P. Moreland responds to Graham Oppy's criticisms of his argument for God's existence from consciousness. Even if you don't understand a word, this is clear...

The argument from consciousness - yet another reason to believe in God.

Keep up to date, Imran Hussein https://www.facebook.com/imranhusseindawah.

What is Consciousness? - J.P. Moreland

J.P. Moreland (Biola University) comments on the nature of consciousness, suggesting that consciousness is immaterial, ultimately finding its origin in God. ...

Colin McGinn Arguing God from Consciousness

The Private Language Argument and the nature of consciousness

What on earth was Wittgenstein on about?

Consciousness and the Technological Singularity

The 12th and final video in Dr. Richard Brown's philosophy of mind course. In this video we discuss David Chalmers' paper 'The Singularity: A Philosophical A...

Confusing Arguments for God - Atheist Experience

A theist caller discusses the Kalam cosmological argument for God. He presents a strange and confusing argument for consciousness of the cause of the univers...

Argument of decay - Stream of Consciousness - LylesBrother

My name is Kurt Bell and I am delighted that you have taken some time to share a little of the experience of life with me. I'm available on social media at t...

Atheist Debates God (Debunking 7 Most Common Theist Arguments)

Excerpts from Dan Barker's rebuttal portion of a debate with Adam Deen (Muslim Apologetic). In his rebuttal Dan answers and debunks the most common argument ...

Roger Penrose: The Emperor's New Mind, Quantum Mind, Quantum Consciousness, The Laws of Physics

http://gabrielemartufi.altervista.org Sir Roger Penrose is an English mathematical physicist, mathematician and philosopher of science. He is the Emeritus Ro...

611383 videos foundNext > 

We're sorry, but there's no news about "Argument from consciousness" right now.


Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Talk About Argument from consciousness

You can talk about Argument from consciousness with people all over the world in our discussions.

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!