In order to discuss consciousness I will make reference to certain key terms. First, the computer, which needs no explanation, and the “philosophical zombie,” which is exactly the same as a human but lacks conscious experience. The “brain” is the non-conscious physical mass of neurons. The observer is the conscious being, the spirit one could say, that is under discussion. Consciousness has both an experience and a matrix (ie., genitor). Of the nature of the experience we can be certain. As to the matrix, we can only throw out ideas. A neural-network could be the matrix, or the oversoul could be the matrix—anything. God could be the matrix. Death is physical death, just as a physician understands it. Many temporary assumptions, each of which I demarcate, will be made for example sake.
Regardless of whether it’s true or not, people generally think that the only thing that can sensibly generate consciousness is the brain. The hardware of the brain is physically similar to a computer, albeit an advanced one; it’s a network of electrical conductors. So if consciousness is created by some sort of brain structure, then the exact same result, consciousness, could also be yielded from a computer. The question becomes, how is consciousness generated by circuitry? Basically all processes that the human body has are genetically encoded, and are therefore traceable by evolutionary biology. Consciousness must have evolved from non-consciousness, that is if we assume its matrix is a brain structure. However, the philosophical zombie tells us that any and all functions that could be required of an organism during the stages of evolution do not need to involve consciousness. In fact, in the same way that computers have evolved, human beings should have evolved to perform all the same behaviors that real humans do, but without consciousness. What possible evolutionary impetus could there have been for consciousness to have evolved? Correct decisions can be made without conscious observation. Philosophical zombies show that a creature can be the exact same in every way but lack consciousness. (Please note that I make the assumption, which at the moment I am inclined to believe to be true, that Artificial Intelligence can be achieved. Namely, that the responses of a computer can be made to be indistinguishable from those of a human. If AI can be achieved, then a “zombie” can definitely be created. This is a big assumption, but its falsehood does not prove that zombies can’t exist).
Determinism, if we assume it to be true in its entirety just for example sake, also verifies that consciousness plays no part in the physical world, and therefore could not have affected evolution in any way. One must ask, how can conscious experience come into being? How can one go from non-conscious to conscious?
The first (and perhaps the most pertinent) question posed is whether consciousness is truly a non-physical thing, not whether its medium or its origin is physical. Let’s say for now that it is non-physical. Then how can consciousness, a non-physical experience, be produced from the physical? Even if a thought is an entirely physical and measurable thing, the experience of thought is not physical. Where does this non-physical part come from?
Now let us imagine that consciousness is a physical experience. What does that even mean? How can experience, which is more-or-less a conception, be physical? This idea baffles me at the moment, and I’ve nothing further I could say about it.