SALON: What do you do with consciousness? I mean, do you really think the mind is totally reducible to neural networks and the electro-chemical surges in the brain? Or might there be something else that goes beyond the physical mechanics of the brain?
DAWKINS: Well, once again, let’s not use the word “reducible” in a negative way. The sheer number of neurons in the brain, and the complication of the connections between the neurons, is such that one doesn’t want to use the word “reducible” in any kind of negative way. Consciousness is the biggest puzzle facing biology, neurobiology, computational studies and evolutionary biology. It is a very, very big problem. I don’t know the answer. Nobody knows the answer. I think one day they probably will know the answer. But even if science doesn’t know the answer, I return to the question, what on earth makes you think that religion will? Just because science so far has failed to explain something, such as consciousness, to say it follows that the facile, pathetic explanations which religion has produced somehow by default must win the argument is really quite ridiculous. Nobody has an explanation for consciousness. That should be a spur to work harder and try to understand it. Not to give up and just say, “Oh well, it must be a soul.” That doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t explain anything. You’ve said absolutely nothing when you’ve said that.
So (like my title says): I â™¥Â Richard Dawkins. Truly one of the great living minds in science. And apparently, philosophically spot on as well.