Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Consciousness--Proof for God's Existence

Fr. John J. Pasquini, Th.D.

Nature consists of a finite number of elements.  Our human bodies consist of those elements. The elements themselves which we consist of, and nature itself consists of, have no consciousness—for elements do not have consciousness.   If the elements of the universe do not have consciousness, and we are made up of such elements, why do we have consciousness?  How does non-living matter become alive, become living matter?

Science’s biggest mystery is the nature of consciousness.  It is not that we possess bad or imperfect theories of human awareness; we simply have no such theories at all.  About all we know about consciousness is that it has something to do with the head, rather than the foot. (1)
                                                         Nick Herbert, Physicist

Nowhere in the laws of physics or in the laws of the derivative sciences, chemistry and biology, is there any reference to consciousness….  This is not to affirm that consciousness does not emerge in the evolutionary process, but merely to state that its emergence is not reconcilable with the natural laws as at present understood. (2)
                                                         John Eccles, Neuroscientist

No single brain area is active when we are conscious and idle when we are not.  Nor does a specific level of activity in neurons signify that we are conscious.  Nor is there a chemistry in neurons that always indicates consciousness. (3)
                                                  Mario Beauregard, Neuroscientist

Despite centuries of modern philosophical and scientific research into the nature of the mind, at present there is no technology that can detect the presence or absence of any kind of consciousness, for scientists do not even know what exactly is to be measured.  Strictly speaking, at present there is no scientific evidence even for the existence of consciousness. (4) [Consciousness is an immaterial phenomenon].
                                            Allan Wallace, Philosopher of Science

Many attempts have been made to explain consciousness.  Some scientists and neurologists have speculated about consciousness in terms of patterns of electromagnetic activation, brain wave sequences, brain wave collapses, synaptic tunnels, synaptic passages, neural networks, neural excitations, neurotransmitters, quantum waves, quantum discontinuities, and quantum cytoskeletal states.  Others have promoted the belief that consciousness comes from the interaction of bosons and fermions, biological oscillators and bioplasma charged particles. Still others have tried to explain consciousness by the trajectory of particles, subtle energies, the excitation of condensates, and the working in unison of molecules.  All forms of electro-chemical processes have been postulated. (5)  All have failed.  No scientific explanation has been able to explain consciousness.
At the heart of the problem is the nature of matter:  I am matter.  I am conscious. How can matter, which has no consciousness, be put together to produce consciousness?  To make the point more concrete, the renowned scientist Roy Varghese gives the following explanation:

Once you understand the nature of matter, of mass-energy, you realize that, by its very nature, it could never become ‘aware,’ never ‘think,’ never say ‘I.’ But the atheist position is that, at some point in the history of the universe, the impossible and the inconceivable took place.  Undifferentiated matter (here we include energy), at some point, became ‘alive,’ then conscious, then conceptually proficient, then an ‘I.’  Matter…has none of the properties of being conscious and, given infinite time, it cannot ‘acquire’ such properties. (6)

Another problem deals with evolution.  Random, chance evolution cannot explain the complexity of consciousness.  The brain contains approximately 100 billion cells. Each cell is allied by synapses to as many as 100,000 other cells.  If the brain could not have evolved without divine assistance within 3.7 billion years, if a single cell could not have evolved without divine assistance within 3.7 billion years, consciousness certainly could not have evolved without divine assistance within 3.7 billion years. 
The odds favor God’s divine intervention or design.
Another issue is whether consciousness is limited to the confines of the brain, and therefore completely naturalistic.  For the famed scientist, Marco Biagini, this is not possible:

Where does consciousness come from?  The phenomenon of consciousness proves that, at a certain time, our psyche certainly began to exist in us.  The problem with the issue of consciousness is that the laws of physics prove that consciousness cannot be the product of simply or solely physical, chemical or biological processes.  Therefore, the origin of our consciousness is transcendent to physical reality. (7)
                                                         Marco Biagini, Ph.D., Solid State Physics

Is consciousness only within the brain, or does it, as Dr. Marco explains, transcend the limits of the brain.  Are there experiences of consciousness that cannot be self-produced, that cannot be explained by a brain-alone, materialistic, atheistic theory?  How do we explain the following claimed human experiences?  Are these things possible?  If even one of the below phenomena is possible, what are the implications?

·        Out of Body—the ability to acquire new knowledge while being clinically dead.
·        Déjà vu—the sensation or feeling that one has already experienced something that appears to be happening for the first time. 
·        Eureka Experience—a sudden understanding of what was previously incomprehensible.
·        Precognition--the procurement of future information that could not be deduced from presently available, acquired sense-based data.
·        Retrocognition--knowledge of the past which could not have been learned or inferred by normal means.
·        Premonition—a strong feeling that something is about to occur.
·        Intuitionan ability to know something without evidence.
·        Telepathy--the transmission of information from one person to another through the use of the mind only.
·        Remote Viewing—the ability to acquire knowledge of something that is hidden from view and separated by distance.   
·        Bilocation—when a person appears to be located in two distinct places at the same instance in time.
·        Providence—the sense that things are not coincidental or chance occurrences. 
·        Prophetic Utterances—insights and predictions into future events.
·        Free Will—to choose a course of action that is not pre-determined.

If any one of these above experiences are possible, then what are the implications that follow?  The fact that these experiences are reported as happening throughout the world and throughout history makes one wonder. 
         If any one of the listed experiences of consciousness has a transcendental dimension, then we have entered into the realm of the divine. 
It can be argued that consciousness is a participation in existence itself.  If consciousness is a participation in existence itself, subsistent existence, then consciousness is not bound by the limits of space and time.  Only participation in existence itself can make the above list—or part of the list--of supernatural phenomena possible.
                 The mystery and nature of consciousness, and our experience of conscious life, favors the existence of God over his non-existence. (8)

NOTES

1.       Quoted in Dean Radin, The Conscious Universe (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997), 265.  See John Pasquini, The Existence of God (University Press of America, 2010).  See also Adraian Boekraad and Henry Tristram, The Argument from Conscience to the Existence of God (London: Mill Hill, 1961).
2.       John Eccles, Wonder of Being Human, 37.
3.       Mario Beauregard, The Spiritual Brain (New York: HarperOne, 2007) 109.
4.       Wallace, Taboo of Subjectivity, 3.
5.       The following are examples of speculative theories that have attempted to explain the unexplainable.  David Chalmers, The Conscious Mind (Oxford University Press, 1996); John Eccles, The Evolution of the Brain (Routledge, 1989); Nick Herbert, The Elemental Mind (Dutton, 1993); Michael Lockwood, Mind, Brain and the Quantum (Basil Blackwell, 1989); Alfred Whitehead, Modes of Thought (Macmillan, 1939); Fred Wolf, Mind into Matter (Moment Point, 2001).
6.       Roy Varghese, in Antony Flew, There is a God (New York: HarperOne, 2007) appendix 1, 163.
7.       Marco Biagini, “Mind and Brain,” Center of Scientific Divulgation about Consciousness, cf. xoomer.virgilio.it/fedeescienza/mindandbrain, 19-20.

8.       See John Pasquini, The Existence of God (University Press of America, 2010). Atheist Persona: Causes and Consequences (New York: University Press of America, 2014).