hey Jack, Lochlan, seriously, you had to pick a Monday to tackle the “hard problem” of consciousness? LOL. Thanks for the shout-out. Of course I believe consciousness is real. I very much enjoy my daily intake of qualia.
I am a dubito, cogito ergo sum kind of guy, yes as a pure thought experiment only my mind is certain, the physical world may be my mental projection. But as that is WAY too egotistical, I gladly assume that you two and everyone else is also real, in our respective minds — but then I immediately establish the need for a physical world by which many minds can exchange signals and communicate, and further establish the need for biological processes to sustain the vessels that hold the mind long enough to have a few coherent thoughts until they succumb to the entropy of the physical. Yeah — I don’t think it can all be done via telepathy — if it could, we wouldn't need to write any of this down, would we … does that make me a scientific materialist?
Jack I would be hesitant to use the Dennett reductionist argument as the straw-man (borrowing one of your go-to concepts) to rail against all spiritual skeptics & philosophical materialists. Even Sam Harris, one of the four horsemen of atheism, who Lochlan quotes right up front, has debated Dennett on this and has offered that consciousness is a mysterious and tricky problem.
What ruffles my feathers is when folks take consciousness, this thing that we observe but barely begun to explain, and equate it with archaic man-made but ill-defined concepts like the soul or human spirit, or worse yet, when they claim the mysteriousness of conscience as some sort of proof of a higher order being that gifted us with awareness. Just as bad when the difficulty in comprehending consciousness leads some to throw their hands up and subscribe to agnosticism.
I never claimed to be a physical materialist, I am certainly not an agnostic, I identify with atheism but find the term flawed (see article below), the label I invented and gladly wear is prognostic — someone who is a believer in knowledge, and in the human ability to create meaning through learning, experimenting and self-discovery.