Saturday, March 18, 2006

That which we cannot understand

What makes a person a person? What makes us different than animals? Naturally a person would reply, 'intelligence' or 'consciousness' or even 'our higher mental process'. But are not all these answers trying to describe the same thing? And what is intelligence? Problem solving abilities, rationality, abstract cognitive abilities, emotions, etc. These are all things that can simply be describes as 'thoughts'. But what are thoughts? Where do they come from and where are they stored? In the brain of course. But where?

The human self is a marvel when considered. The physiology alone can leave a person in wonder at the complexities. A never ending tunnel of mysteries- each door leading to the next. We can never fully understand it, and the chances of it all coming together by random chance are as good as hoping for a computer will build itself and run perfectly. Unfortunately this never happens even with human help.

But put the physiology aside for a moment. What is the self? What makes us truly who we are? We are certainly more than well placed, working parts functioning together as a whole to keep us living. If this was all we were, we would simply be a machine -if what we mean by 'machine' is a collection of working parts. We use many such machines, and the obvious difference being they are artificial and we are organic. However that is hardly the true difference between us. We are who we are- wholly unique from each other with distinct personalities and thoughts and emotions and the other myriad of things that make up what has come to be known as 'cognition'.

But what is cognition truly? Where are these thoughts stored? Naturally one replies, 'the brain'. But where? In the neurons? In the cells? In the chemicals that make up the cells? In the elements that make up the chemicals? In the atoms that make up the elements? In the protons or neutrons that make up the elements? No one truly knows. Psychologists can confirm that the thoughts are there and that various parts of the brain function to produce them at certain times, but what are they? They are an abstraction.

A computer houses its information in chips- silicon, plastic, wires, and whatever other properties that store the electric signals. But, ultimately, everything done or produced on a computer can be broken down into a binary code. A series of ones and zeros. A sort of Morse Code. This is understandable. But a computer isn't intelligent. It produces what it is told to, nothing more. A human often produces things it was never specifically taught. There is an infinitely higher level of intelligence (I use this word for lack of a better) that cannot be explained, but must be simply accepted.

Like the wind, we can feel, experience and study our own thoughts and personalities. We can run experiments, predict it, learn about it, counsel it, and teach it. But what are we talking about exactly? Thought. Personality. These are merely abstract concepts that can only be truly defined as, 'that which we can study, but cannot understand'.

I would suggest that this abstraction, this thing which we cannot understand stands as proof to the existence of the human spirit or soul. That which makes us different is that which made us in God's image, that which makes us spiritual beings. Where do our thoughts reside? No where. Everywhere. In our 'soul'. In our personality. The person you pass on the street, the friend sitting beside you, the child that refuses to listen. The actually person is not the series of mechanical parts all working in unison like a great orchestra. It is the personality. The spirit. That which we cannot understand.

Our thoughts cannot, like a computer reside in a series of chips, or, in our case, even neurons. Our thoughts are outside the bounds of biology and chemistry. We can study them, learn about them and help them even. But the spirit cannot be captured and it cannot be measured or quantified. It is simply that which we cannot understand.

This evidence of spirit must in turn point to a God. A spirit (like the wind, present yet invisible) cannot create itself, rather it must have been created by God. Sure we can meet people, learn about them, talk with them, and even know them, as is true of men and God. But if we are ever pinned down and forced to explain what it is exactly that makes us who we are, a satisfactory answer cannot be given. It is simply a soul. A spirit. That which can be experienced, but never fully understood. At least, not until we stand before God.

As a psychology major we all learn about personalities. We learn about development and learning and memory and language and many other things. But ultimately what are we studying? And is it not like a perpetual labyrinth? If we are honest with ourselves, we cannot define psychology as the study of mental processes and behavior, for that is ultimately to say the study of the soul. The study of that which we cannot understand.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

An Indefensible Position

Evolution from a Biblical worldview perspective is a morally indefensible position. Put aside the evidence for or against it for the moment. Put aside a desire to elevate man to a higher position in order to criticize the work of God. Put aside even Genesis chapters one and two for the moment -they say what they say. I want to focus on something a little more problematic for the Christian - an attack that seems to have blindsided everyone and something I have not seen or heard expressed by anyone.

The Bible is clear about the origins of sin and its consequences. God told Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden that if they eat of the fruit of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil then they will die. This death was meant literally and as a separation from God.

This idea is repeated in Romans 5:12 - "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:"

So then, if this is true it would imply that there was no death before the fall of man. If there had indeed been death before sin, then what was the consequence of sin? Why would God threaten Adam and Eve with something that would happen to them anyway? I understand part of this death was the separation of God and man, but it had a double edged meaning and also meant a literal death.

Evolutionary theory, on the other hand, thrives on death. Struggle, death, adaptation...these are all hallmarks of evolutionary thought. The idea of evolution without these things could not happen. But that is exactly what the Bible proposes. No death before sin. No struggle before sin (because God had not yet cursed the ground). No adaptation necessary until God's punishment for that first sin was laid to bear. Everything changed after Eden.

So for a Christian who is entertaining the idea of evolution there are several VERY important questions that must be addressed. When did sin enter the world? When did death enter the world? When did struggle enter the world? And most importantly! If these things have always been, and one of the consequences of sin was not indeed death, then what was the consequence of sin? And if sin had no consequence, why did Jesus come?

It's a logical progression of thought that must be considered for a Christian looking to embrace evolution. Somehow it seems, evolution has managed to take out the foundation of the entire Bible. Somehow, Genesis one and two seem a little more important because they set up the context for the entire book! Jesus came to restore fellowship between God and man and to give us eternal life. Why? Because death is a consequence of sin!

Evolution from a Biblical worldview cannot be accepted unless the person believes they can chuck the Bible - more than just a "reinterpretation" of Genesis one and two. As a Christian it is simply a morally indefensible position.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Honesty, Please

Let's try a little honesty for once. Without a doubt scientists like Darwin and those who came up with the "Large Boom" theory (or...Big Bang, is it?) are not stupid people. But what is equally certain is that they were definitely misguided. At the core of their observations were a string of disregarded errors and anomalies that are usually not even mentioned. This is the honesty that is so lacking in modern evolutionary theory and universe (and Earth...etc.) dating systems. The problem is there are more errors than evidence. Things that do not add up, and if the true scientific theory were being applied, the theories (yes, I said theories) would have been thrown out long ago. I will not get into the counter evidence for these theories here because, quite frankly, I do not feel like writing a book (or 10!). If you are interested, I recommend "Tornado in a Junkyard" by James Perloff.

Truthfully, this intellectual dishonesty seems to stem from a violent, almost exaggerated, expulsion of anything being explained Biblically. Now I'm not claiming Creation is scientific (in that it can be measured, observed and repeated - because God did that only once) but there is much in the Bible that accounts for other phenomena that are used to support the idea that the earth is ''millions of years old''. A world wide flood, for example. This event found in Genesis would account for the geology and geography of our modern world. Mountains could have formed in very little time as waters receded. The Grand Canyon could have formed extremely fast as large amounts of water moved through wet sediment. Life could have fossilized and oil could have been produced by tons and tons of material piling up and causing pressure. But instead of this getting a consideration, scientists elect a more troublesome theory: millions of years. Truthfully, it seems to take more faith to believe in "millions of years" than it does Genesis.

This brief essay is not meant to be an argument against evolution or dating systems. As I said, I don't have the time, space, or energy to tackle such a thing. But the resources are there. What I am calling for is a bit of intellectual honesty from those who believe such theories. Consider the flaws of the argument instead of pretending they do not exist. Ignoring counter evidence serves no one because it is disingenuous and misleading. I have much more respect for the evolutionist that says, "Yes, there are things that we cannot explain, but this is what we have so far." I still disagree with the theory, but at least a statement like that can carry some respect. Let's bring honesty back into science. © 2010. layout by Chaotic Soul :: Converted by Randomness