What if every time you have a thought about something, anything — what’s for lunch today, how should I react when the boss wants her District weekend schedule for next week tomorrow, why doesn’t Linda stop wearing her hair like that, how much do clouds weigh — you are providing evidence for God’s existence?
Think about it (no pun intended!), how can we account for the mind when, unlike our brains, it has no measurable weight, shape or volume. In other words, what if mind is not matter, at least not as the latter is understood in terms of physical properties.
Why should you, as a loyal, hard-working member of a congressional staff, care one way or the other about this? If mind isn’t matter, there must be more to life than the merely physical.
If that’s the case, then we’ve got to consider the possibility that God exists and the human mind reflects His creative power and choice. Otherwise, how do we comprehend the elegance of Madison’s solution to the problem of factions in a republic?
Neurosurgery pioneer Wilder Penfield explored these kinds of questions in a direct and revealing manner years ago, by “mapping” the brains of an estimated 1,000 people who were his epilepsy patients.
In a recent “Mind Matters” podcast, Walter Bradley Center Director Robert J. Marks II, Distinguished Professor of Engineering at Baylor University’s School of Engineering and Computer Science, interviewed neurosurgeon Michael Eignor on Penfield’s conclusion that mind and matter are not one and the same.
Eignor explains why Penfield reached that conclusion:
“He started his career as a materialist. He thought the whole mind came from the brain and he was just going to study it. And at the end of his career, 30 years later, he was a passionate dualist. He said that there is a part of the mind that is not from the brain. He had several lines of reasoning that convinced him of that.
“One line of reasoning was that, in mapping people’s brains—and again he mapped upwards of a thousand people this way—he would hundreds of individual stimulations of the surface of the brain to see what happened. And people would have all sorts of things happened.
“They would have their arm move or they would feel a tingling or they would see a flash of light. Or sometimes they’d have a memory or they would have an impediment. Sometimes they couldn’t speak for a minute or two after a certain spot was touched.”
But guess what his stimulations of those people’s brain never produced, not even once? Abstract thoughts. So where does reason come from? What is the source of thinking, that is abstract thoughts? Again, think about that for a moment and then perhaps ask yourself the what-if question: What if there really is a God who created me?
You can listen to the podcast and read key excerpts from the transcript here.
And if that’s got your mind racing, so to speak, here’s more to think about from Mind Matters: Computer engineer and philosopher Bernardo Kastrup explains why consciousness cannot merely be a byproduct of physical processes that provide humans with an evolutionary advantage, as argued by biologist Jerry Coyne.