This week’s blog is an essay taken from my newest book, Reflections on the Existence of God.
If you go out to your yard or to a local park, you will notice dirt, rocks, grass, trees, plants, and maybe water in a pond or creek. Ask yourself, “How did this type of matter, gradually, over time, evolve into beings that are conscious and self-aware of themselves?” Seriously, it is inconceivable that dirt and rocks could become human beings who are “aware” and who can think and reason. In other words, matter, at some point, becomes alive and conscious. This is what the theory of evolution by natural selection is proposing.
Scientist Roy Varghese says:
“Once you understand the nature of matter, of mass-energy, you realize that, by its very nature, it could never become ‘aware,’ never ‘think,’ never say ‘I’. But the atheist position is that, at some point in the history of the universe, the impossible and the inconceivable took place. Undifferentiated matter (here we include energy), at some point became ‘alive,’ then conscious, then conceptually proficient, then an ‘I’. Matter… has none of the properties of being conscious and given infinite time, it cannot ‘acquire’ such properties.”
The issue of “consciousness” has become a real problem for those with an atheistic worldview. Darwinian evolution has a difficult time accounting for it. As you will see, the explanation for human consciousness and thought clearly favor God.
Richard Dawkins recognizes that consciousness, thought, and human language pose a real problem. He acknowledges: “Neither Steve Pinker nor I can explain human subjective consciousness—what philosophers call qualia.”
Dawkins’ friend, Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, lays out in his book How the Mind Works the problem of subjective consciousness. In addressing an explanation, he is honest enough to say, “Beats the heck out of me.” He is acknowledging we don’t really know or understand it.
Many scientists believe that the nature of consciousness is one of the biggest mysteries in life. As physicist Nick Herbert put it:
“All we know about consciousness is that it has something to do with the head, rather than the foot.”
Since consciousness cannot be explained by modern science, many scientists have concluded that human consciousness is an illusion; it really does not exist. Our thoughts, reasonings, intentions, and perceptions are not real. I find this to be preposterous. For instance, Cambridge psychologist Nicholas Humphrey says: “Our starting assumption as scientists ought to be that on some level consciousness has to be an illusion. The reason is obvious: If nothing in the physical world can have the features that consciousness seems to have, then consciousness cannot exist as a thing in the physical world.”
Atheism asserts that all of life is physical and material. Therefore, your thinking is nothing more than chemical reactions in the brain. Consciousness is, therefore, an illusion in a world that is governed by chemical and material forces.
Dr. Francis Crick, famous for cracking the DNA code, explains it this way: “‘You,’ your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” He concludes by saying: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.”
This is an incredible claim, but if there is no God, how else do you explain human consciousness? It is clearly an extreme belief. Nancy Pearcey asks a very logical question: “Why would anyone come up with a theory so contrary to normal experience?” She further asks: “And why should we trust the thinking of scientists who tell us there is no such thing as thinking?”
This is an example of the irrational claims of atheism. They are clinging to outlandish ideas to explain away the possibility of the existence of God.
The philosopher Galen Strawson has concluded this about the denial of consciousness: “[It] is surely the strangest thing that has ever happened in the whole history of human thought.” He says it shows:
“…that the power of human credulity is unlimited, that the capacity of human minds to be gripped by theory, by faith, is truly unbounded. It reveals the deepest irrationality of the human mind.”
Dr. Daniel Wolpert is a neuroscientist and currently a neurobiology professor at Columbia University. He too is an atheist but seems to be embarrassed by the explanation his colleagues are giving for human consciousness. He has made the deliberate decision to avoid discussing the entire issue of consciousness. He says: “I have purposely avoided any discussion of consciousness.”
As you are reading this book, I feel certain you recognize you have an awareness of your life, and you are actually thinking real thoughts as you are reading. If this is true wouldn’t you have to conclude your consciousness is not an illusion, but an actual part of your everyday experience?
I think Norman Geisler provides some great insight into this:
“If intelligent human beings can’t create anything close to the human brain, why should we expect non-intelligent natural laws to do so?”
I might add, that even if we could create a computer that was similar to a brain, we would all have to acknowledge that it was intelligent design that brought it into being, for only intelligence can design and create that which is intelligent. It could never happen by chance.