Medium conversation reveals much about how we think about consciousness

Gerald R. Baron
20 min readJan 13, 2024
Photo by Hugo Clément on Unsplash

Consciousness is a pretty big topic these days. I recently quoted Paul Davies, Sara Walker and George Ellis in the introduction to the book they edited From Matter to Life as saying that the formation of life and the existence of consciousness remain among the greatest unsolved mysteries of science:

“There are few open problems in science as perplexing as the nature of life and consciousness. At present, we do not have many scientific windows into either.”

As important as the question is, we are very far from a consensus about what consciousness actually is and where it came from. It’s not surprising that there are major unanswered questions in science. We don’t know much about gravity either, or dark matter, or cosmic inflation. But, unlike gravity or dark matter, when someone expresses an opinion about the science of consciousness it is bound to draw a lot of response and opinions. Particularly, as we can see in Paul Pallaghy’s recent post on consciousness, transcendence and the simulation hypothesis.

The provocatively title post, “Yes, consciousness is essentially proof of God (or the simulation hypothesis)”, has generated 1.6k claps and 81 comments by the time I started this post. Dr. Pallaghy was trained as a particle physicist and his Medium description says he is a biophysicist and AI engineer. He is founder of a technology services company in Melbourne, Australia.

The headline was clearly written to generate interest and comment. Dr. Pallaghy, however, is not an evangelist and makes clear in one of his responses that he “is not trying to push God.” He does refer to Matthew, a Medium writer who is a theistic apologist. Dr. Pallaghy, while likely not sharing Matthew’s views on different subjects, wrote about consciousness in response to Matthew’s January 2 post titled “Consciousness as Proof of the Transcendent.”

What I found most interesting about Pallaghy’s post is the reaction. The 81 comments generated provide a good look into how those interested in this topic today think about consciousness. Before evaluating them and what we can learn from that, it would be good to look at what Pallaghy was and was not saying.

What Pallaghy said

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Gerald R. Baron

Dawdling at the intersection of faith, science, philosophy and theology.