If the physical universe that we see, smell, hear, feel and taste is all that exists, how can we account for the fact we all have thoughts and emotions that are just as “real” to us as any of our senses?
This might initially seem like an odd question, but in fact it “points” to one of the most important questions any human being can ever ponder: If the non-material (i.e. thinking, consciousness) is as real as our five material senses (which can be explained merely by physical factors), how do we explain the origin and ultimate significance of the non-material?
J. Warner Wallace, NBC “Dateline’s” cold-case detective, addresses this issue in chapter five of his superb book “God’s Crime Scene.” There he observes this:
If the material universe is all there is, where do our non-material minds come from?
“If I asked you to close your eyes and think of an imaginary car and encouraged you to envision anything you could imagine related to that car, the resulting vehicle would exist solely in your mind.
“If you are sufficiently creative, your imaginary vehicle would be like no other car on the planet, and only you would know precisely how it looks. Without referencing a physical car external to your body, you imagined the shape, color and textures of the vehicle; it exists only in your conscious thoughts.
“This particular car is not the result of optical input from your eyes. Your brain isn’t referencing optical data from an object in the room. Neurophysiologists cannot open your physical brain and locate the car, its shape or its properties.
“These characteristics cannot be accessed by surgeons sifting through the gray matter of your brain, and even though neurologists may be able to pinpoint a location within the brain where neurological activity correlates with a thought or sensation, this only confirms a casual relationship between two separate things and fails to identify one as the other.
“While physical states can be publicly known, mental states are only privately known. This characteristic of the mind is not shared with the brain; the properties of the brain and the mind are not identical.”
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Christianity is either established or destroyed by whether or not a single historical event actually happened, as claimed in the four Gospels concerning the resurrection of Jesus.
If Jesus was indeed resurrected three days after being crucified dead and buried, then was seen and heard by a multitude of witnesses in the 40 days thereafter, as claimed by the Gospel authors, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, then every human being who ever has or ever will live must decide whether to accept or reject His claim to be God Incarnate and the only way to Heaven.
If Jesus was not physically resurrected as claimed by the Gospels, then, as Paul writes in I Corinthians 15:17-19, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile … and we are of all people most to be pitied.”
Christian apologists like J. Warner Wallace, the famous NBC “Dateline” cold-case detective, speak to lots of college and high school groups and they often get the most penetrating questions from the students.
Such was the case at the recent Grounded Youth Apologetics Conference hosted by the Donelson Fellowship in Nashville. A student noted that Wallace had spoken of how he believes Christianity “fits” science better than religions like Islam and Hindu and asked him why the others don’t.