Consciousness within Atheism

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rat spit's picture
Consciousness within Atheism

Hello dear heathens,

My understanding of the Atheist view point - as far as consciousness goes - is that it is strictly generated in the brain; dies with the brain; is not found outside brains; etc.

Regarding perception. When I visualize an object light strikes the surface of that object carrying colour which reaches my eye; enters my brain; and is interpreted by my brain as “such and such object”.

Similarly with sound. A sound is generated; creates sound waves through the air; enters my ears; tickles the hairs in there; and is interpreted and mapped out by my brain.

What, then, is the Atheist view of “out-there-ness”. Is the world a mirage generated by the brain through sense data? Or is the sound or object I hear or see really “out there” as I might naively believe.

I am interested to hear your responses. Thank you. Rat spit.

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LostLocke's picture
The "athiest view" of out

The "athiest view" of out-there-ness is that there is no evidence of any gods "out there".
That's all athiesm says about anything. Everything else is left up to each individual.

rat spit's picture
Atheists are also of the mind

Atheists are also of the mind set that “consciousness” does not exist outside the brain. Such a belief would be “woo woo” as you folk like to say. I am trying to ascertain if that kind of view is the same regarding perception.

It’s a simple question. If you’d rather not answer “as an atheist” - give me your personal point of view.

LostLocke's picture
There's nothing in atheism

There's nothing in atheism that says a person can not believe that our consciousness is separate from our brains.
There are also branches within religion, including some in Christianity, that don't believe we have a consciousness separate from our brains.

You're approaching this as an either/or scenario, when there are (at least) four basic positions in this.

arakish's picture
Ever watch the first Matrix

Ever watch the first Matrix movie? Remember when Morpheus explained that the brain simply interprets impulses? Thus, how would one prove they are nothing but a brain hooked up to a very sophisticated computer system which feeds those impulses? Even better, how would you prove you are not just a computer program being fed data that is then interpreted by the lines of code within your program? Even in the second movie, the Oracle explains how it is the programs that are doing what they are not supposed to be doing that you hear about all the time. The ones generating alien sightings, ghosts, werewolves, etc.


rat spit's picture
Okay. So besides being an


Okay. So besides being an Atheist, would it be fair to say you are also an Idealist (in the philosophical sense)?

Cognostic's picture
In philosophy, Idealism is

In philosophy, Idealism is the group of metaphysical philosophies that assert that reality, or reality as humans can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial.

No. Skeptic and a phenomenological realist.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
@ Ratspit

@ Ratspit

LostLocke is right. You seem to be echoing so many theists and demanding an "Atheist worldview". I can only answer as myself, not for any other individual however like minded.

My sensory inputs are mine alone. I know I do not see things (without corrective aids) as others do, as a sometime sound engineer I know I edit wavelengths and effects to please others. I can only describe the touch of my newborn sons skin, is it the same for me as it was for my partner? I do not know. When we discussed the sensation it evoked very similar emotions. The same? Ostensibly yes, but in detail, probably not as our experience is always coloured by our memories.

“We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone.”Anon

You seem, Ratspit, to be more afraid of yourself and being alone with yourself than you are of anything else, hence the "OverLord" meme you have shared so frequently. “You cannot be lonely if you like the person you are alone with.”

rat spit's picture
Hmm. You cut to the quick. In

@Old Man ...

Hmm. You cut to the quick. In my youth I suffered from annihilation anxiety. I know the despair of loneliness on a psychotic level.

In fact. In my despair, as a youth, I conceptually invented a God to save me from the weight of the world. Needless to say, it didn’t save me from a big headache later on.

But the OverLord - no. He’s never been there to save me from loneliness. There are a lot of different types of Hell. Absolute isolation is one of them. And yes. When the veil of the world lifts and all we have is appearance - there is a certain existential crises which follows.

I am a naive realist by choice. I personally think that the things out there are really there - precisely as they appear. If by some fault of my sense faculty I cannot, for example, see an object far off - that is a fault of my eye - not the object.

This viewpoint calls for an extension of consciousness onto the object perceived. Something that I would predict most Atheists, by nature, are unwilling to admit. So far each of you has verified this.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
@ Ratspit

@ Ratspit

Have a good sleep: I think your dilemma can be summed up by Arthur C Clarke "Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.

Some of us seek to assuage our loneliness ( aka self knowledge) with alcohol, drugs and other stimulants, some find solace in community, many do not even think of it, or if they do, retreat to a hobby, or exercise or anything to avoid facing the truth, many find religion a panacea, you, Ratspit, have found a somewhat novel, if ungainly, way of coping. .

"I’m lonely. And I’m lonely in some horribly deep way and for a flash of an instant, I can see just how lonely, and how deep this feeling runs. And it scares the shit out of me to be this lonely because it seems catastrophic."
—Augusten Burroughs

The main thing is, you are coping. That you need "the Overlord and his evil sidekick" just shows your generational cultural inputs. The fact that you want them around as an adult and will defend their existence in the face of rational argument just shows the deep rooted fear you have of yourself and being alone to face yourself. No shame in that. Most people in my experience do not even have the intestinal fortitude to get as far as admitting their solitary existence. They can't even bear to think about it.

You are in good company, keep talking to us. Oh, and, have a ((((HUG)))). That should "feels you better" as my son used to say.

Cognostic's picture
RAT SPIT: How long you been

RAT SPIT: How long you been hanging out here? Not a single ounce of intelligence has rubbed off on you yet? You are a sad example of a RatSpit and probably a Joke to the Overlord.

Why in the FUCK: do you keep saying stupid shit like "My understanding of the Atheist view point"

THERE IS NO ATHEIST VIEW POINT. How many times and how many people have to repeat this to you? Are you really that stupid?

Cosmic consciousness outside the brain is WooWoo science. There is no evidence for it at all that stands against critical inquiry and experimentation. This is not an ATHEIST VIEW. OPEN A SCIENCE BOOK AND READ.

Is the world a mirage generated by the brain through sense data? IT DOS NOT MATTER. Did you get that. It makes no difference at all what is going on out there. Whatever it is we treat it as if it is reality. Not to do so would be fucking stupid. We might all run about thinking we are little rats talking to an Overlord.
It does not matter what WooWoo you attribute to the stuff out there. Fail to treat it like it is real and you will die. It's just that simple.

rat spit's picture
Okay. Wow. Calm down, monkey

Okay. Wow. Calm down, monkey man. I get it. Atheists don’t have view points. Now, what you say makes a point. “Treat it as real, or die.” Sure. How real is it? Does it merely exist in your mind, or does “depth perception” really point to an existence perceivable outside the mind?

Thank you for the other replies. It’s quitting time here in my part of the world. I have questions. Until then hisss!!! and remember - to every Atheist; remember:

“Know Thy Self” (in the biblical sense)

Cognostic's picture
How real does not matter,

How real does not matter, The more in tune with it you are the better you are going to get along in this world.

rat spit's picture
Maybe “utilitarian” suits you

Maybe “utilitarian” suits you?

Cognostic's picture


rat spit's picture


toto974's picture
@ rat spit

@ rat spit

Why are you always wondering if atheists have a consciousness? You are very keen to make arguments which posit that WE are essentially "soulless".

rat spit's picture
No. You have me confused with


No. You have me confused with someone else. I would not deny an Atheist their consciousness - I would add, merely, that they are wrong if they think it does not exist external to them.

Regarding the “soul”; I mean “Selfhood”. I mean that the little inner voice we all have is NOT evidence of Selfhood (for a few different reasons). I have no problem understanding why someone would identify with their inner voice. I personally don’t. And I think that anyone who does is being deceived.

In this thread I want to establish your take on perception. Common sense tells us that the forms we see, hear, smell, etc. are not only real - and do not merely appear to be external. They really are real and external.

So that is what I am asking you. What do you believe about your perceptions of external reality? Are they merely in your mind? Or do they exist as they appear in an external way? Because, if they do, some mediator must exist for there to be a “real”, “external” object, sound, etc.

toto974's picture
@rat spit

@rat spit


I uses the word "soul" because a majority of people on Earth means that wheen they talk of selfhood. Of course what we perceive is real, although a recollection of information by our physical brain.

Do you remember your thread: No Atheist Shall Pass?

In your OP:

"To eradicate such dubious double standards, the 8 to 10 % of the world who hear supernatural beings will henceforth deny all Atheists’ claim to Selfhood. Henceforth, there will be no such thing as an Atheist.

In chess this is called “a fork”. Why? Well, in order for the Atheist to reclaim his fortune of Selfhood, he or she must recognize the validity of the voice hearing people’s experiences. And thus, ultimately the Atheist has no leg to stand on as a) he is denied Selfhood or b) he recognizes the existence of the supernatural."

Sheldon's picture
"the little inner voice we

"the little inner voice we all have is NOT evidence of Selfhood (for a few different reasons). I have no problem understanding why someone would identify with their inner voice. I personally don’t. And I think that anyone who does is being deceived."

quod grātīs asseritur, grātīs negātur

" the forms we see, hear, smell, etc. are not only real - and do not merely appear to be external. They really are real and external."

quod grātīs asseritur, grātīs negātur

chimp3's picture
The concept that

The concept that consciousness is a function of a brain is a scientific one, not an atheistic idea. You could hold that viewpoint and believe in gods.

Tin-Man's picture
Chimp!!! Hey, how the hell

Chimp!!! Hey, how the hell ya been? Haven't seen you around in awhile! Great having you back!... *big smile*...

David Killens's picture
"My understanding of the

"My understanding of the Atheist view point"

No, fucking no, rat spit. I know you aren't an idiot, so stops acting like one. Don't be such a jerk.

I will repeat this to one who really should know better. But since he is acting the fool, I will say it.

Rat Spit, the one and only thing that defines an atheist is a lack of belief in a god. There is no common viewpoint.

Sheesh, what a fucking idiot.

rat spit's picture


Spare the rod, spoil the child, eh? First Cog. Now David. Give my ass a break. It doesn’t need anymore whooping.

The “honest” mistake I made was associating Atheism with another lack of belief; ie. that consciousness exists outside the body.

It’s Sheldon’s fault, goddamit. He’s the one calling such a belief “woo woo”. Jeesh.

On another note. Do you believe Consciousness exists beyond a person’s body?

David Killens's picture
rat spit, no, I am not going

rat spit, no, I am not going to give your ass a break. You know better. Own your comments, do not attempt to pass the blame on to someone else. You made that post.

If you had retracted your comment and maybe even apologized, then I would have treated you very different. But you did not, and you even attempted to blame someone else.

Do I believe consciousness exists beyond a person's body? No. I am intelligent enough to be self-aware and be able to conduct my internal dialogue. But all of that happens inside my noggin.

rat spit's picture
So, with regard to perception


So, with regard to perception: is it a mind-made illusion (a very persuasive one); or does it exist as it appears. In other words, if a tree falls in the forest...

David Killens's picture
I agree that our

I agree that our interpretations we derive inside of our brains relies on external sources which are usually the senses. But in the end, my interpretation agrees with everyone else. If I see red, it is really red, and unless you are color-blind, you too see red. If not, you will fail the Ishihara test. And that is easily testable for anyone. We know how the sensory organs work, how their signals are transmitted to the brain, and how it is processed. We also have people and tools that can study and identify anyone who is not properly processing information and identify the problem.

If a tree falls in the forest ...

So what, it will make a sound independent if there was an observer. A tree will impact the ground based on it's internal structure, velocity, and other factors, those impacts will create specific sound waves, and those sound waves will propagate.

rat spit's picture


I appreciate the answer. What about depth perception? For sounds or sights. I’m not trolling you. This will be the last question.

And sorry. About the sound. Does sound require a human ear? I can imagine sound “waves” propagating through space. But without an ear, isn’t the wave unregistered; undecoded; unprocessed?

David Killens's picture
No problem rat spit, I do not

No problem rat spit, I do not desire to limit your investigations. This does not need to be the last question. My anger passes quicker than a fart in the wind.

Depth perception?

For sounds? My hearing was extensively tested when I joined the military, and it was cool spending over an hour in a soundproof box responding to certain sounds. How do you think the military is able to set a baseline for those working with such instruments like sonar?

Sights? Ever play baseball? Ever wonder why so many people are able to catch a fly ball if everyone is supposed to have different interpretations?

I am an avid sim racer. I rely on my sight and sound to drive effectively and competently. All of the sounds and visuals all my fellow racers hear are generated by the same software and algorithms. If we all had different interpretations, our lap times would not be as close.

In summation, we all hear the same sound and see the same images, we all arrive at the same conclusions. Unless of course, if the receptors, signal paths, and/or processing is not working properly.


I know this may feed into your delusion, but hey, here's a mind-fuck.

rat spit's picture


Admittedly, our senses are extremely fine tuned to our environments. Evolution would expect nothing less from a fit individual. And arguments for a Creative God could be formulated along the same lines - but I am not a believer in a Creator God - so I would make no such argument. Not that it would hold up in this platform very long anyway.

The depth perception test points out an interesting fact. We see double - depending on what we focus on. And obviously the answer is “no, there are not two fingers when you look past them at the apple.” So, I suppose the most reasonable argument regarding perception and appearance is that perception is extremely fine tuned to the objects around us, however we cannot fully trust them - they provide appearances only.

I’m still not sold on this because of depth perception. I think there’s some consciousness woo woo going on there. The reality of depth is an illusion if perception provides only appearance. If depth is real, some mediator is required. Something to ponder over I suppose.

David Killens's picture
@rat spit

@rat spit

"If depth is real, some mediator is required."

That mediator is the body's ability to gauge distance. That is accomplished by the body's ability to sense the different angles between each eyeball, and calculate via trigonometry. Additionally, there is the ability to gauge whether the object is growing smaller or larger, measured against time.

If you actually believe what you perceive with vision is just appearance, don't go out in traffic. Cars are very real and can hurt you. If you actually believe your concepts, you can go walk out in traffic with a blindfold and survive. Please, don't test my suggestion.


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