J. Warner Wallace

Author, Cold-Case Christianity

Yet Another Way the Existence of Consciousness Demonstrates the Existence of God

Can atheistic naturalism explain the existence of consciousness? I don’t think so, and in my book, God’s Crime Scene: A Cold Case Detective Examines the Evidence for A Divinely Created Universe, I illustrate the problem naturalism has trying to account for the mind from “inside the room” of the natural universe. There’s a reason why atheist philosophers have labeled the topic, “The Problem of Mind” or “The Mind / Body Problem”. Atheistic materialism simply cannot offer an adequate explanation for the existence of consciousness, even though this single feature of our existence is perhaps the most obvious and commonly experienced. How does immaterial consciousness emerge in an entirely material universe governed by nothing more than space, time, matter and the laws of physics and chemistry?

Many who give an explanation for consciousness from “inside the room” deny the existence of the non-material and conclude our minds are identical to our physical brains. A material universe could, according to this explanation, provide a physical brain through some long unguided process of evolutionary events and forces. If this is the case, our perception of consciousness might simply be the result of physical events in our material brains. Non-material consciousness would be nothing more than the result of physical events caused by our material brains. But if our mental is really just our brain activity, the following equation must also be true:

 GCS Chapter 05 Illustration 03

Illustrations from God's Crime Scene

If the brain is identical to the mind, all the properties and qualities on one side of the equation should be identical to all the properties on the other side of the equation, and if this is the case, our non-material perception of mind is illusory; we are, in fact, nothing more than physical beings. If the mind is identical to the brain, what we commonly perceive as non-material consciousness is simply the activity of our physical brains. In order to see if this is the case (if the physical ingredients “in the room” of the universe could produce our non-material minds), we’ll have to investigate the evidence related to the properties and characteristics of our minds and our brains.

In God’s Crime Scene I provide five separate ways in which minds are different than brains. These distinctions demonstrate that physical properties and states of the brain are not identical to the mental properties and states of the mind. One aspect of mental states stands above others in distinguishing them from physical states. Philosophers refer to this as intentionality. Most mental states are directed; they are about something other than themselves. We often experience thoughts or concerns about the world around us. We worry about our jobs or our families.

When we possess a mental state (a worry, concern, fear, or hope), we are typically thinking about something. These mental states are not self-existent. They depend on the existence of something else. Let’s say, for example, I hear a noise outside my home and I am worried there might be a burglar. My thoughts are about the burglar and whether or not my door is locked. My mental state is dependent on the physical state of the burglar and the door.

This directedness and dependency is not true of physical entities. A door is not about anything else; it simply is (a door). Yet our non-material concerns about the door (the “about-ness” of our mental states) rely on the door’s material self-existence (its “is-ness”). Physical objects (like brains) can be in relationship with other physical objects (your brain can be in your skull or next to the person sitting on your right) but they are never about another physical object. Physical entities are undirected and self-existent. This property of your mind (the dependent, “about-ness” of your thoughts) is different than the self-existent “is-ness” of your brain.

GCS Chapter 05 Illustration 05

In God’s Crime Scene I provide four more differences between brain and mind to illustrate the problem naturalistic atheism has accounting for consciousness. This blog post is a small excerpt from that work. In the book, I also explore every effort to explain our experience of consciousness from “inside the room” of the natural universe: Are mental states merely brain states? Are mental states nothing more than behavior? Are mental states only functional states? Are mental states non-existent? Every attempt to explain consciousness from “inside the room” fails. If, however, there is a non-material mind “outside the room” of the universe who has created us in His image, our experience of consciousness would make sense and could be explained from more than the inadequate resources of our limited physical universe. This short blog post is a excerpt from God’s Crime Scene. For more information, please refer to Chapter Five – Our Experience of Consciousness: Are We More Than Matter?

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity and God’s Crime Scene.

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About J. Warner Wallace

J. Warner Wallace is a cold-case homicide detective, adjunct professor of apologetics at Biola University, Christian case maker and author. J. Warner was a conscientious and vocal atheist through his undergraduate and graduate work in Design and Architecture (CSULB and UCLA); he always considered himself to be an “evidentialist”. His experience in law enforcement only served to strengthen his conviction that truth is tied directly to evidence. But at the age of thirty-five, J. Warner took a serious and expansive look at the evidence for the Christian Worldview and determined that Christianity was demonstrably true. After becoming a Christ follower in 1996, Jim continued to take an evidential approach to truth as he examined the Christian worldview. He eventually earned a Master’s Degree in Theological Studies from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. J. Warner served as a Youth Pastor for several years, then planted a church in 2006. Along the way, he created and built the Cold-Case Christianity website, blog and podcast as a place to post and talk about what he discovered related to the evidence supporting Christianity. Jim has appeared on television and radio, explaining the role that evidence plays in the Christian definition of “faith” and defending the historicity of Jesus, the reliability of the Bible and the truth of the Christian worldview. Jim also speaks at churches, retreats and camps as he seeks to help people become confident Christian case makers. J. Warner’s first book, Cold-Case Christianity, provides readers with ten principles of cold case investigations and utilizes these principles to examine the reliability of the gospel eyewitness accounts. In his second book, God’s Crime Scene, he investigates eight pieces of evidence in the universe to make the case for God’s existence. J. Warner’s professional investigative work has received national recognition; his cases have been featured more than any other detective on NBC’s Dateline, and his work has also appeared on CourtTV and Fox News. He also appears on television as an investigative consultant and had a role in God’s Not Dead 2, making the case for the historicity of Jesus. J. Warner was awarded the Police and Fire Medal of Valor “Sustained Superiority” Award for his continuing work on cold-case homicides. Relying on over two decades of investigative experience, J. Warner provides his readers and audiences with the tools they will need to investigate the claims of Christianity and make a convincing case for the truth of the Christian worldview. You can follow J. Warner Wallace on Twitter @JWarnerWallace

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