God Is: An Introduction to the Evidence for the Existence of God, Part 23

EVIDENCE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD FROM EXPERIENCE: CONSCIOUSNESS

          As human beings, we possess the capacity to know ourselves and our surroundings. We can understand how the world works. But, the world itself cannot understand how it works. The world lacks the consciousness to do so.

     When we consider the atheist’s argument that everything can be explained by physical causes, we run into a serious problem. For, we human beings, just like the world itself, are made up of physical properties: we are flesh and blood, muscles and molecules, protons, electrons and neutrons. None of these physical properties of which we are made possess, of themselves, consciousness to understand themselves and the world around them. Yet, we do! How can this be? How can a mass of physical properties, flesh, blood, muscles, molecules, protons, electrons and neutrons, none of which possess of themselves the consciousness to know themselves, possess the consciousness to know ourselves and the world around us? This alone recommends to us something outside the confines of nature – something that is supernatural – to explain such a remarkable reality. What is to account for the spark of consciousness? Certainly, it is unreasonable to conclude that anything that is itself unconscious is responsible for the spark of consciousness we possess.

        What’s more, if everything can be explained by physical causes, what confidence can we have that our thoughts regarding ourselves and the world are true, that is, consistent with what actually is? For our own thoughts and conclusions regarding ourselves and the world would, themselves, be nothing more that the effects of physical causes. Therefore, we could have no confidence in them at all. This is summed up well by J. B. S. Haldane, the Cambridge biologist and atheist, in his book, Possible Worlds (1927), where he writes, “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly be the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.”

     If our consciousness, then, has its origin only in physical causes, then we have no reason to claim that our consciousness provides us with a reliable picture of ourselves or the world. Therefore, we have no reason to claim actual knowledge of anything. We can know only our own thoughts. Yet, even these thoughts are nothing more than the effects of physical causes. What confidence, then, can we have in our own thoughts? None whatsoever. We are not thinking beings at all. Our thoughts are nothing more than the results of atoms banging about in our brains. Yet, even this notion, as Haldane observed, is nothing in which we can have any confidence.

     If we are to claim any hold on knowledge, consciousness and reason, we must conclude that the origin or source of our consciousness lies outside the confines of physical causes, outside the confines of nature – that is, supernatural. This origin or source must itself be conscious and rational, or we find ourselves in the same pickle. While the immediate source of our consciousness and reason may depend on still another source, this dependence cannot go back infinitely, for all the arguments Thomas Aquinas provided against the irrational notion that causes can go back infinitely. Therefore, there must be a conscious, rational source that is the ultimate origin of our own capacity for consciousness and reason. This we call God.

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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