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And Listening, And Seeing

Let's imagine you are sitting down (because probably you are).

You are seeing whatever is around you. There is a red-brick fireplace about 20 feet away. How do you know it is red, a fireplace and brick. And you know the brick is hard. But how do you know.

The only thing that is happening is there is one small upside down picture on the retina of each eye, very much like a camera.

What follows is a miracle. YES AND I MEAN MIRACLE. I am a scientist and so I know a little of what is happening. It is called "sentience." We usually call it seeing. Close your eyes and (surprise) it all goes away. How come we SEE? There are zillions of light receptors in your retina and many zillion brain cells in your optic nerve and visual cortex. Where in hell did all this come from?

We know there are trillions of brain cells working away we can measure what they are doing, we can see them on a functional MRI, but the connection with sentience, with the experience of being alive is a mystery, as is consciousness and intelligence.

One of the giant problems of our civilization, is to get around the simplified explanations of religion and realize how utterly incredible life is.

Science knows how it started (the big bang, 10.75 billion years ago) and it evolved, all the way to us and sentience, where we can experience life. That is what all of this monster universe is for. You can say God did it, but that is only a name. Where did god come from. So we have a fantastic, very troublesome gift. Most of the world doesn't know what science knows and so fights over which is the right god, or who gets ore power. I wouldn't trade all of China (never mind the tea) for one performance of a Beethoven Symphony, one chance to plan Chopin on the piano, one conversation with my wife, or one smile on my son's face.

If this doesn't ring a bell with you, then think. How you got it, I don't know, but you have a mind that is a miracle.

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