- On January 29, 2015
- By Gavin & Yvonne Frost
Grace and Spirituality
Recently we heard a Spiritualist minister discuss grace. In the subsequent discussion it became apparent that no one present really knew what grace was or is. In my own mind grace is very similar to consciousness: (a) It is something we all recognize as being real, though we don’t know how to get it, and (b) We don’t know whether conscious animals and living things have it–or even whether they wish for it.
If I built an automaton from parts that replicate a human being and its functions, would the automaton have consciousness? Would the consciousness be built in? If it does not have consciousness, why not? If it had conciousness would it also have grace?
Having consciousness has been compared to knowing the color red (or, for that matter, any other color) if I were to be completely color-blind and could see only in black and white and in shades of gray. Could you describe to me, your bereft friend, what red is–or what seeing red feels like? Does a mouse, who is not color-blind, understand red?, whereas I have no hope of being able to do that. Does a mouse have consciousness–at least more than my replica human being, the automaton?
Are consciousness and grace emergent traits? We know that, for instance, flocking for birds is an emergent trait. As soon as you put a group of birds together they form a flock and act in unison.
Yet a bird and even two birds do not seem to be naturally friendly with one another.
Somewhere in their genome, over ages birds have learned that flocking has advantages. Therefore when a group forms, they flock.
Does consciousness have a survival advantage? If you can dream up an advantage for
consciousness, can you for grace? Obviously in time past, when the Inquisition was rampant, being able to say that you had grace was an advantage: You hopefully wouldn’t be burned. But today?
Blessed be G&Y