Humans 'Computers Made of Meat'?
Consciousness, God, and the Human Soul
Three years ago, the British journal Resuscitation published
a remarkable article about human consciousness. It described a
year-long British study that offered evidence that consciousness
continues after a person's brain has stopped functioning, and he has
been declared clinically dead. As former journalist Lee Strobel notes
in his book The Case for a Creator, "It was dramatic new evidence that
the brain and mind are not the same," but are rather distinct entities.
As Reuter's journalist Sarah Tippit put it, the research "resurrects
the debate over whether there is life after death and whether there is
such a thing as the human soul."
In their article, physician Sam Parnia and neuropsychiatrist Peter
Fenwick described their study of sixty-three heart-attack victims who
were declared clinically dead but who were later revived. As Strobel
relates, about 10 percent of these people "reported having
well-structured, lucid thought processes, with memory formation and
reasoning, during the time that their brains were not functioning. The
effects of oxygen starvation or drugs-[explanations] commonly offered
by skeptics-were ruled out as factors."
According to Parnia, while large-scale studies are still needed, the
scientific findings to date "would support the view that mind,
'consciousness,' or the 'soul' is a separate entity from the brain."
These are important findings for Christians, who believe that human
beings are both body and spirit. But it's bad news for scientists who
are determined to find a purely physical answer to the question of
human consciousness. They are, Strobel says, "candid in admitting that
they currently have no explanation for how the brain might spawn
But other scientists are determined to follow the evidence wherever it
leads. As the late neurophysicist Sir John Eccles put it, "I am driven
by data, not theory . . . There are solid, concrete data that suggest
that our consciousness, our mind, may surpass the boundaries of the
This data supports the teachings of the Bible. As Strobel writes,
"Jesus described the body and soul as being separate entities when He
said, 'Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the
soul.' The Apostle Paul says that to be absent from the body is to be
present with the Lord."
Looking at the current debate over mind and body, philosopher Alvin
Plantinga concludes: "Things don't look hopeful for Darwinian
naturalists." That dismal outlook, however, is not stopping them from
trying. "Faced with data and logic that support dualism, and unable to
offer a plausible theory for how consciousness could have erupted from
mindless matter," Strobel says, "atheists are pinning their hopes on
some as-yet-undetermined scientific discovery to justify their faith in
physicalism. And some aren't even so sure about that. Physicist and
atheist Steven Weinberg said scientists may have to 'bypass the problem
of human consciousness' altogether, because 'it may just be too hard
for us.'" In other words, Strobel says, "it's failing to give them the
answers they want."
Read Strobel's book "The Case for a Creator". You'll find more exciting
evidence that our minds are not reducible to mere matter: God created
us, and our consciousness comes from His.
BreakPoint - Cultural commentary with Prison
Fellowship's Chuck Colson - http://www.breakpoint.org
September 23, 2004 - Visit the Breakpoint website at http://www.breakpoint.org