Our Brain is a Mind

            In the Socrates in the City interview “Has Science Buried God?”…conducted by the questioner Eric Metaxas[1]…the scientist and author John Lennox makes the critical point that modern science has not buried faith…but that modern science can bury atheism.

            Oxford professor of mathematics Dr. Lennox tells the story of some of his world-famous scientist friends and colleagues asking the question why he is not an atheist. 

            His telling response is to ask them that if the computer and equipment they use in their scientific research was produced…was designed and manufactured through a random and undirected process…could they have a reasonable and consistent confidence in the data the computer and lab-equipment generated.  Their answer every time is no.

            If, according to materialism, the human mind/brain is likewise the product of the random and undirected process of Darwinian evolution, this undermines our sure confidence in the accuracy of human rational thought.  When extended-out to its logical end-point…this radical materialism dissolves rationality…even dissolves the philosophical thinking of atheism itself.

            Atheism thought-out all the way through to its end-point…dissolves the reliability and credibility of its own thought process, because the accuracy of a computer, lab-equipment, or a human brain that is the materialistic product of a random and undirected process…cannot be absolutely trusted.

            Atheism based upon naturalistic materialism, when extended-out logically, destroys rationality in every field of science.  Materialism sweeps away our reasonable confidence in the human mental capacity to accurately take advantage of the fundamental assumption underlying all scientific research, that the natural world is both orderly and intelligible. 

            But most importantly and insightfully recognized…the natural world is intelligible to human beings alone…amongst all other living organisms, an extraordinary capacity I do not believe we want to give up so easily to misleading philosophy.

            The reliability of our mental capacity to differentiate truth from error, and our ability to place value upon trustworthy research methods, enables the pursuit of modern science in the first place.

            One of the ingeniously insightful apologetic arguments in recent times for the existence of God…is the differentiation between matter and mind…the contrast between “concrete” material things as opposed to the abstract, conceptual nature of information.

            The classic case is made that the information conveyed in the daily headlines of the New York Times newspaper…is not explainable by means of the physics and chemistry of ink bonding to paper.

            The information conveyed in the newspaper headlines is the product of the intelligent arrangement of the ink on paper…in this instance in the English language.  This reality transcends above and is completely detached and independent from the mechanical explanation of how ink bonds to paper.

            Physics and chemistry alone are incapable of the abstract thought process of arranging ink on paper to convey intelligible information.  The arrangement of anything complex, specified, and coherently integrated…like the intelligent design of the headlines of the New York Times newspaper…requires a mind.

            In the Socrates in the City interview noted above, John Lennox makes another critical point by saying that information is not a material thing.  Information is correctly defined to be an abstract, intangible entity that has a non-materialistic essence, quite apart from the material explanation of how ink bonds to paper.

            Dr. Lennox gives a beautiful illustration of this.  On a mountaintop in the state of Washington, he sends up a message using smoke signals, which are read by Native American Indians who telephone this information to someone in Oxford, England, who types-inputs this into a computer that can be emailed to friends and colleagues of John Lennox at Oxford University.

            In this illustration, the information/message remains the same…but the mediums used to convey the information…smoke signals, telephone, computer, and email…are different. 

            This means that the complex, specified, and coherently integrated systems of information discovered in the natural world by modern scientific investigation cannot be the product of naturalistic materialism. 

            The information cannot be the product of the smoke signals, the telephone, or the computer, but instead originate from an intelligent mind, because information correctly defined is not materialistic…but abstract.

            The fundamental questions about human life: “how did I get here, who am I, and where am I going?”…are in essence non-material questions, and therefore require non-material answers.

            These questions cannot be answered through the mathematics, physics, and chemistry of empirical, bench-top, hard-science.  Their defining character, like the essence of the abstract information in a newspaper headline or in a Chopin Etude, is not materialistically amenable to measurement, quantification, and qualitative testing in a laboratory. 

            I would theorize here that the instinctual part of the lifestyle habits of the lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant, water buffalo, wildebeest, Thompson’s gazelle, giraffe, zebra, hippopotamus, and other large mammals on the African savanna plains…are also immaterial…but different from the intellectual and moral reasoning capacity of human beings.

            The point has been raised by Christian apologists that if the human mind is a brain only, produced solely by the random and undirected processes of materialism, then the mutation/selection process of Darwinian macroevolution would home-in exclusively on those attributes supporting only survival and reproduction. 

            The origin of the additional attributes that define the human experience beyond mere survival and reproduction are not explainable by the process of Darwinian macroevolution.

            This raises the question of just how is it that humans can identify the existence of a black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, and decipher the unimaginably complex chemical code of the DNA molecule, being the longest word in existence. 

            These are intellectual attributes that have little or nothing to do with the instinctual lifestyle habits of basic survival and reproduction (Gen. 1:27).

            This differential between an immaterial, instinctual mind in animals and an immaterial, intellectual mind in humans…may be a puzzle partially solved by scientific investigation in the future. 

            But the definitional question at the fundamental level of what is instinct, and what is intellect, in my opinion will not be answered by the study of matter and energy…because instinct and intellect are non-material.

            The physics and chemistry of how ink bonds to paper cannot explain the intelligently specified arrangement of that ink on paper that formulates the information conveyed in the headlines of the New York Times newspaper. 


[1] Socrates in the City: “Has Science Buried God?” Aug. 21, 2019.

Author: Barton Jahn

I worked in building construction as a field superintendent and project manager. I have four books published by McGraw-Hill on housing construction (1995-98) under Bart Jahn, and have eight Christian books self-published through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). I have a bachelor of science degree in construction management from California State University Long Beach. I grew up in Southern California, was an avid surfer, and am fortunate enough to have always lived within one mile of the ocean. I discovered writing at the age of 30, and it is now one of my favorite activities. I am currently working on more books on building construction.

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