Thank you for your interest in this subject. We look forward, over the next few weeks to a very interesting and informative discussion chaired by Dr Antony Latham, a medical doctor living on the island of Harris and a member of the GTN Council of Advisers.
If this is your first visit to the table, you might benefit from reading the introduction below.
Each round table topic has been selected on the basis of at least two criteria: it is an area of fundamental interest to science but it also is a topic of theological interest. Consequently, there is an important conversation to be explored about how, in the context of this subject, our understanding of both science and theology can be expanded.
It is important, as we begin, to establish as clearly as we can:
Arguably, from a scientific point of view, there is nothing more important than understanding the human mind. Without it, there is no consciousness, no meaning. Interestingly, it is also a subject in which scientific explanation is very challenging and much remains shrouded in mystery. From a theological perspective, mind is also a hugely important topic, especially if it is the principal way the creator communicates with the apex of his creation – human beings.
The subject is of great importance in the dialogue between theism and atheism. If it can be established that the mind has a form of independence from the brain, the way opens up very clearly for it to be argued that the mind, whose essence is our ‘personhood’ can survive the death of the body and, with it, the death of brain function. On the other hand, if it can be established that our ‘personhood’ is entirely framed by the brain it is more difficult to argue the case for ‘eternal life’ – unless there is another entity, separate from both mind and brain: the soul. Or is it?
The following papers have been provided by Dr Antony Latham. The first provides a guide to the main concepts associated with consciousness; the second provides information on various philosophical attempts to understand and describe consciousness. At the end of the second paper there are some trigger questions for discussion. However do feel free, even with no reference to the starter points, to ask questions and make comments on any part of the paper/s.