originally posted by: Jay-morris
At the end of the day, people will speculate about consciousness. People will agree, or disagree with theories regarding consciousness.
The mind has been described as “the elusive entity where intelligence, decision making, perception, awareness and sense of self reside.” As
creeks, streams, and rivers feed into a sea, so memories, thoughts, images, sounds, and feelings flow constantly into or through our mind.
Consciousness, says one definition, is “the perception of what passes in a man’s own mind.”
Modern researchers have made great strides in understanding the physical makeup of the brain and some of the electrochemical processes that occur in
it. They can also explain the circuitry and functioning of an advanced computer. However, there is a vast difference between brain and computer. With
your brain you are conscious and are aware of your being, but a computer certainly is not. Why the difference?
Frankly, how and why consciousness arises from physical processes in our brain is a mystery. “I don’t see how any science can explain that,” one
neurobiologist commented. Also, Professor James Trefil observed: “What, exactly, it means for a human being to be conscious . . . is the only major
question in the sciences that we don’t even know how to ask.” One reason why is that scientists are using the brain to try to understand the
brain. And just studying the physiology of the brain may not be enough. Consciousness is “one of the most profound mysteries of existence,”
observed Dr. David Chalmers, “but knowledge of the brain alone may not get [scientists] to the bottom of it.”
Nonetheless, each of us experiences consciousness. For example, our vivid memories of past events are not mere stored facts, like computer bits of
information. We can reflect on our experiences, draw lessons from them, and use them to shape our future. We are able to consider several future
scenarios and evaluate the possible effects of each. We have the capacity to analyze, create, appreciate, and love. We can enjoy pleasant
conversations about the past, present, and future. We have ethical values about behavior and can use them in making decisions that may or may not be
of immediate benefit. We are attracted to beauty in art and morals. In our mind we can mold and refine our ideas and guess how other people will react
if we carry these out.
Such factors produce an awareness that sets humans apart from other life-forms on earth. Dr. Richard Restak states: “The human brain, and the human
brain alone, has the capacity to step back, survey its own operation, and thus achieve some degree of transcendence. Indeed, our capacity for
rewriting our own script and redefining ourselves in the world is what distinguishes us from all other creatures in the world.”
Man’s consciousness baffles some. The book Life Ascending
, while favoring a mere biological explanation, admits: “When we ask how a process
[evolution] that resembles a game of chance, with dreadful penalties for the losers, could have generated such qualities as love of beauty and truth,
compassion, freedom, and, above all, the expansiveness of the human spirit, we are perplexed. The more we ponder our spiritual resources, the more our
wonder deepens.” Very true. Thus, we might round out our view of human uniqueness by considering another facet of our consciousness that illustrates
why many are convinced that there must be an intelligent Designer, a Creator, who cares for us.
Another facet of human consciousness is our ability to consider the future (briefly mentioned earlier)
. When asked whether humans have
traits that distinguish them from animals, Professor Richard Dawkins acknowledged that man has, indeed, unique qualities. After mentioning “the
ability to plan ahead using conscious, imagined foresight,” Dawkins added: “Short-term benefit has always been the only thing that counts in
evolution; long-term benefit has never counted. It has never been possible for something to evolve in spite of being bad for the immediate short-term
good of the individual. For the first time ever, it’s possible for at least some people to say, ‘Forget about the fact that you can make a
short-term profit by chopping down this forest; what about the long-term benefit?’ Now I think that’s genuinely new and unique.”
Other researchers confirm that humans’ ability for conscious, long-term planning is without parallel. Neurophysiologist William H. Calvin notes:
“Aside from hormonally triggered preparations for winter and mating, animals exhibit surprisingly little evidence of planning more than a few
minutes ahead.” Animals may store food before a cold season, but they do not think things through and plan. By contrast, humans consider the future,
even the distant future. Some scientists contemplate what may happen to the universe billions of years hence. Did you ever wonder why man—so
different from animals—is able to think about the future and lay out plans?
The Bible says of humans: “Even time indefinite [the Creator] has put in their heart.” The Revised Standard Version
renders it: “He has
put eternity into man’s mind.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) We use this distinctive ability daily, even in as common an act as glancing in a mirror and
thinking what our appearance will be in 10 or 20 years. And we are confirming what Ecclesiastes 3:11 says when we give even passing thought to such
concepts as the infinity of time and space. The mere fact that we have this ability harmonizes with the comment that a Creator has put “eternity
into man’s mind.”
Sir John Eccles concluded that an evolutionary explanation of man’s existence “fails in a most important respect. It cannot account for the
existence of each one of us as unique self-conscious beings.” The more we learn about the workings of our brain and mind, the easier it is to see
why millions of people have concluded that man’s conscious existence is evidence of a Creator who cares about us.
“The human brain is composed almost exclusively of the [cerebral] cortex. The brain of a chimpanzee, for example, also has a cortex, but in far
smaller proportions. The cortex allows us to think, to remember, to imagine. Essentially, we are human beings by virtue of our cortex.”—Edoardo
Boncinelli, director of research in molecular biology, Milan, Italy.
Professor Paul Davies reflected on the ability of the brain to handle the abstract field of mathematics. “Mathematics is not something that you find
lying around in your back yard. It’s produced by the human mind. Yet if we ask where mathematics works best, it is in areas like particle physics
and astrophysics, areas of fundamental science that are very, very far removed from everyday affairs.” What does that imply? “It suggests to me
that consciousness and our ability to do mathematics are no mere accident, no trivial detail, no insignificant by-product of evolution.”—Are We
John Polkinghorne, of the University of Cambridge, England, observed:
“Theoretical physicist Paul Dirac discovered something called quantum field theory which is fundamental to our understanding of the physical world.
I can’t believe Dirac’s ability to discover that theory, or Einstein’s ability to discover the general theory of relativity, is a sort of
spin-off from our ancestors having to dodge saber-toothed tigers. Something much more profound, much more mysterious, is going
edit on 3-3-2020 by whereislogic because: (no reason given)