Why does consciousness require continuity? Every atom in your body will be replaced over a period of years. Your central nervous organ is the organ that defines your ego and identity. If I destroy your heart and then replace it, then you are still who you are, only with a new heart. If I destroy your brain and replace it, you become the person defined by that new brain, and presumably your old self dies.
What about when I destroy your brain and then replace it with an organ that consists of all the atoms in your previous brain logically connected in the same way. They are all the same atoms. If I do this in one physical location, and it takes .1 milliseconds to perform the operation, you may not even notice it took place. So how would you then be dead? I have destroyed your brain and replaced it, but I replaced it with the same pattern, with the same atoms. At some very small amount of time, the organism will be unable to detect even gross alterations to its structure. So, there will be "continuity."
What if I did the same but also copied your brain with new atoms? Every logical relationship between atoms has been preserved in the new brain. It will now be the brain in your cranium, and your previous brain will occupy an android body standing just in front of you. Do you have the subjective experience of occupying the android or your new brain?
The substance of the atoms in your new brain is different, but the logical arrangement of neurons has remained exactly the same. You cannot logically be both the android and your old self. What self does the subjective experience become?
The android would claim that it becomes the android. The old self would claim that it never moved. However, in that situation, if you are the old self, you would not experience becoming the android. The android would be an "other" who was merely very similar to yourself in behavior, and who claims that you are a spiritual impostor who has stolen its old body!
Well then, who are you now? Are you as artificial as the android because of your new substance? But that substance would have been replaced over time anyway, and you would exist during and through that transition. As far as I can tell, you are the continuity of a pattern. A new pattern with exactly the same characteristics is a new instance of that generalized class of patterns. But they are not the same patterns.
Am I something so unimportant as a particular instance of a recurring wave pattern that does not recognize that it is many personas that it does not remember? Do I exist as the person of the idea that connects with my own? Where, then, can the ego truly be said to end? It ends with my perception of my interconnection, which may be flawed evolutionary to promote competition. If I perceive that I am the android and assume its functions, then perhaps I am the android.
What if I connected my thoughts to the thoughts of that android? This would create a super-entity that behaves as a single functional unit but that includes both entities. I would experience being myself as well as the android. If I then perished, then my android self would continue. It may be possible to obtain immortality through the connectivity of thought. It may be possible that we are already indistinguishably part of such an interconnected system!
Perhaps those who hear voices hear the spiritual will of some foreign influence.
People claim that it's possible to astral project and return information from distant locations that are stored as memory in the original body. Might they be becoming an unnoticed part of the android self and then returning? How, then, does that information travel? How do I travel from my self to the android self? Do I retain my identity? Do I discover that my identity was frivolous or flippant?
From my experience, it is true that some humans have learned to interact more fully with parts of nature that science has not yet revealed! I do not possess any of these extraordinary abilities; however, I wonder about their existence after considering the vast number of such questions that I have no data to answer. I think a life goal of mine is to experience astral projection. Who can take me on an adventure through a logical location that science has yet to explore?
All my life, I have desired to be a part of some organization bigger than myself. I have not been either very successful or popular; yet, I have been happiest when I have been included. Perhaps there is an underlying insufficiency in the concept of self. Perhaps humans were never meant to be so individual, and the difference between my psychic urge to connect and its realization have been distressing.
Science has so many questions to answer. Break time is over. Back to work.