How does science explain the human conscience?

I'm 15, a recently converted Christian to Agnosticism. It's taken me a long while of thoughtful consideration to fully drop some Christian philosophies from my conscience, such as heaven and hell, breaking down the concept of good and evil down into black and white, and the expectation that everything that happens to me is just another bump on the train track that some divine order has set up for me. Still, I've never quite lost the idea that there was a creator (and possibly even a designer) to the universe, simply because I don't think any natural scientific explanation for the origin of the universe, or even the origin of species, can explain what gives what used to be just matter and energy, a conscience., a primary influence on me to stop being a Christian, has always asserted that there is no soul, and that all we are is walking chemical reactions. If that's true, and that all it takes to have life is for chemical reactions to repeat themselves, then what do we call everyday chemical reactions in nature? Are they all living too? Just short bursts of life and conscience that go away because there isn't another reaction to follow? You could say that it was the nature of the universe to develop life (and thereby life with a conscience) wherever it was possible, but that holds one problem for me: It makes too much sense not to have a driving force behind it. Obviously it would be completely pointless to have a whole universe out there with no life to experience it, so the nature of the universe is to create life wherever possible. But what gave it that nature? Something had to be behind it. If it was just randomization, why let it make any sense at all? After all, there's no-one to say otherwise.
Atheist Answer: 

I think what you actually mean is human consciousness. If not, let me know and we'll talk about conscience.

Just because all fathers are men doesn't mean all men are fathers. Likewise, just because all life is chemical reactions doesn't mean all chemical reactions are life. The complete consensual definition of life uses several advanced processes as criteria, for example metabolism, growth and reproduction.

Consciousness in the materialistic view goes beyond the chemical, because it's augmented by the bio-electrical. Thoughts literally zap around the brain when they're active. The rest of the time they're stored chemically in the brain cells. The rest of the body also uses small amounts of electricity (there's a reason we need to consume electrolytes), but it's doubly important to the brain.

The nature of the universe does not appear to be to create life wherever possible. Firstly, there are very few types of place in the universe where life is possible, so it's not easy. Secondly, since all known life shares genetic material and is therefore related, it appears that even here on Earth life only emerged once, and never again. I'm not saying we're the only life in the universe, but life seems so rare and unlikely to arise in any given place that the next occurrence of it is probably several galaxies away.

It does seem pointless to create a universe with nobody to experience it. It seems almost as pointless to create a universe and put nearly all of it completely out of reach of the observers, so our presence isn't exactly a masterstroke in the efficient use of the cosmos. It's exactly as if we are just here, and we can see what we can see simply because it's close.

Hope that lot is food for thought.

- SmartLX

Yes-Another near death experience question.

I find the answers atheists give to this question all seem to carry a touch of desperation, as though they will grab at anything which will deny the remotest possibility that the tens of thousands of people who have had such experiences are all the victims of their own wild ,crazy hallucinations. Most of these people state very clearly that what they have experienced bears no relationship to the dreams and hallucinationa they have experienced during their lives. We are talking about an enormous range of people, including atheists, agnostics and very young children. How do you explain verified accounts of people who have not only left thie body but seen and heard things in other hospital rooms which have later been verified? Are all these people liars? How can you hallucinate factual observations in physcial locations in which your body is not present?
Atheist Answer: 

Do read my comments in the original question where I explain that there is very likely a difference between a brain which is dying, or almost dying, and one which is not. One might expect the experiences of the former to be somewhat unique, no?

Regardless of what a patient's religion is, if they're in the news we read then they're in a country where if the Christian concept of the afterlife, if not widely believed, is at least widely known. The reason why even non-Christians' experiences may feature Heaven and Hell (that's where you're going with this, right?) is most likely a simple unconscious association of these ideas with death. It doesn't denote belief, and it certainly doesn't speak to reality more than any dream does.

As for factual observations of things not visible or audible to the patient (which is getting into the more general field of out-of-body experiences), those are exactly the events which have not been verified. There are stories of course, but nothing that it's actually possible to pin down and say, "This happened."

Disagree with me? Then don't just wave your hand at the world and say the evidence is out there. That shows us nothing. Go find some concrete examples and link to them in a comment (use HTML links please, as in a href), so that we can do our own research and come to our own conclusions. Make an effort.

That's not just to Iens, it's to everybody. Show us what you've got.

- SmartLX

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