A Personal Apologetic: Independently Conscious

(In the previous post, I talked about how our material existence is insufficient to explain self-awareness in general. While I think that argument was fairly strong, it might not be enough to convince a skeptic. So, in the following post I’ll use a stronger one based on something the skeptic is a constant witness of: his own personal and unique self-awareness.)

Our bodies are made of atoms and molecules. Each of us has the same kinds of molecules. There’s nothing special about the oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and other elements that make up our bodies. They are common, everyday elements. Just the proportions are slightly different for each of us.

If we are the same in physical essence, why do I have a first-person conscious experience of living in and through my body, but I don’t have that same experience through your body? And why do you have a first-person conscious experience of living in and through your body, but not through my body? In other words, why is my self-awareness linked to the molecules that make up my particular body, and your self-awareness linked with the molecules that make up yours? We are all made up of the same stuff. Just think of all the billions of humans that are alive now and have lived in the past, each made of the same kind of matter. Why should your consciousness be associated only with your particular body right now?

If consciousness is energy, the same holds true. Each of us runs on the same kinds of energy. There is no special “me” biochemical reaction or electrical impulses that I have but you don’t.

Consciousness also can’t be explained purely in terms of one’s brain function, although I believe that functioning necessary to be aware of the physical world and interact with it. Without the immaterial side of us (the spirit), we would have no first-person experience of consciousness. All we would have is a brain with no self-awareness, effectively wired so that, like an adroid, it always responds in a predictable way for a given input. Consciousness-wise, it would be like before you existed when you were not aware of anything in the universe.

If we are the same in physical essence, there has to be something that transcends our physical bodies that makes us individually and uniquely conscious. You are I are both independently self-aware. I will never experience your consciousness, and you will never experience mine.

Materialistic science’s explanation for self-awareness is a matter of faith. It is assumed that when a living organism’s brain becomes developed enough, self-consciousness somehow just happens. This is exactly the kind of thinking religious people are faulted for. But nothing just happens.

In a purely material existence, whatever happens (including whatever you do, say, or think) can only be explained as the result of purely materialistic causes that came before it. This is the foundation of modern scientific thought. It is what leads a scientist to search for a material explanation for every observed phenomenon 1.

I also believe every event has a cause – but my pool of causes is not limited to the material universe. I also include the possibility of spiritual causes. These are not random excuses merely to cover the unexplained. They also follow laws that we can observe and benefit by if we are aware of them 2. All of these causes are rooted in who God is, what He does, and what He decrees. He is the ultimate Cause for every thing, including the creation of our individual souls by which we experience consciousness.

Notes:

  1. One exception is the cause for the theoretical “big bang”. Alan Guth’s inflationary universe theory says the universe came out of a “random vacuum fluctuation”, a fluctuation that happened without a cause. Many scientists believe this, even though it goes against their mantra that every event has a materialistic cause.
  2. Some examples of spiritual laws we can rely on are given in Galatians 6:8, Philippians 4:6-7, and John 7:17.

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