Evidence for the Existence of God – Consciousness

4 04 2009

I thought that I would address this argument as it came into the conversation that I was having with Nate on Thursday night.  This issue is a major challenge for materialists/naturalists as it is difficult, if not impossible to explain why and how we have consciousness if all that we are are walking chemical reactors.  How does consciousness arise from non-consciousness (to be distinguished from unconsciousness).

Although consciousness has many different aspects to it, we will look at a few that are germane to this discussion.  The first idea is that of sentience which Armstrong describes as being “capable of sensing and responding to its world.”  We would think of this response as more than a mere involuntary reaction.  A deeper level of this idea is that of self-consciousness, which the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy describes “as those that are not only aware but also aware that they are aware.”  When we look at the world and are aware of it and aware of our place in the world, that becomes a state that requires explanation.  We know things about ourselves that no other human will even know unless we tell them.  So, how do we explain this?

Philosopher Peter Kreeft makes the following argument:

  1. We experience the universe as intelligible. This intelligibility means that the universe is graspable by intelligence.
  2. Either this intelligible universe and the finite minds so well suited to grasp it are the products of intelligence, or both intelligibility and intelligence are the products of blind chance.
  3. Not blind chance.
  4. Therefore this intelligible universe and the finite minds so well suited to grasp it are the products of intelligence.

The questions that this argument include: why should the universe appear to be intelligible by us if it is the product of chance?; how does the impersonal take on personal qualities?; or, are those personal qualities illusion?; does the outside world really exist, or are we merely part of a larger illusion?  These may seem like silly questions to some of you; however, these questions and others have plagued thinkers for generations, and continue to do so.

The direction that may have gone is to pursue pantheism as the lowest possible entry point into a non-material reality.  Why pantheism?  Well, first of all it answers how the material world can experience a non-material reality – mind.  Second, it is a spiritual step that does not put many requirements on its adherents.  The god(s) of pantheism are generally not those who would require anything of its/their adherents, rather, the adherent can control the gods.  Think back to the Star Wars movies and how Obi-Wan Kenobi teaches Luke Skywalker to harness the force to his advantage.  What was that force, nothing other than a pantheistic representation of god, a god who could be controlled and manipulated to one’s advantage.  A god that also had a light side (pursued by Luke) and a dark side (pursued by Darth Vader).

The God of the Bible is a God that, by his very nature, deserves and commands our worship and obedience, not as a dictator, but as a loving ruler who created us in His image and desires what is best for us.  However, as C.S. Lewis wrote in the Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe of Aslan, the representation of Christ in his series:

“Is — is he a man?” asked Lucy. “Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King
of wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of the Beasts?
Aslan is a lion — the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh,” said Susan, “I thought he was a man. Is he — quite safe? I
shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” “That you will, dearie, and make no mistake,” said Mrs.
Beaver, “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver
than most or else silly.” “Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver, “don’t you hear what Mrs.
Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell
you.”

God has given us consciousness and minds such that we could know Him, love Him, and worship Him.  He has also given us self-awareness so that we could know ourselves, and by doing so, to know our true need for redemption from our fallen condition.  Our salvation is not to look within, as so many tell us to do, and as Obi-Wan told Luke to do, but to look above and beyond ourselves to the great God who created us to be in relationship with Himself.

Psalm 123

1To you I lift up my eyes,
O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
2Behold, as the eyes of servants
look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maidservant
to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the LORD our God,
till he has mercy upon us.

3 Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us,
for we have had more than enough of contempt.
4Our soul has had more than enough
of the scorn of those who are at ease,
of the contempt of the proud.

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