The American Vision: A Biblical Worldview Ministry

How Did Nothingness Program DNA?

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Christians begin with the presupposition that God created the universe and created man as a special creation different in kind from both inanimate and other animate creations. In fact, man is so special, the Bible tells us, that he is the very “image of God” (Gen. 1:27). One of these image attributes is the existence of the mind, the ability to think rationally (Col. 3:10), and to act in ways that require moral evaluation (Eph. 4:24). The consistent materialist, who denies God, denies the existence of the mind.

For materialistic philosophers, the mind is an “illusion.” In their words, “the brain is a machine. We have no selves, no souls. How do they know? Well, it’s just a matter of faith.” [1] One of the best-kept secrets of science is that it has its share of faith-based presuppositions. In his book The Ten Assumptions of Science, Glenn Borchardt writes:

The highest levels of thinking occur when we realize that thinking begins with presuppositions (e.g., antecedent beliefs unrecognized by the believer). Math states its axioms, logic its premises, and science its assumptions (7).

One of the presuppositions of science is that all that exists is material in nature. In fact, Borchardt lists it as the first assumption of science. Since the mind as distinct from the brain is by definition non‑material, the mind as a separate entity cannot exist. The existence of what we call the “mind” must be explained solely in physical terms. Philosopher Daniel Dennett’s presupposes that “the mind is somehow nothing but a physical phenomenon. In short, the mind is the brain.” [2]

“The brain,” insists MIT’s Marvin Minsky in equally presuppositional fashion, is just “hundreds of different machines … connected to each other by bundles of nerve fibers, but not everything is connected to everything else. There isn’t a ‘you.’” [3] Such a view of the mind makes man to be nothing more than an organic machine.

With the advent of the computer, the materialists believe they have found the perfect scientific mechanism to demonstrate that the mind is an illusion. “The machinists’ model of consciousness is the computer; they see the brain as a superior model, somewhat more versatile than the industrial‑strength Cray super‑computer.” [4] The machinists’ computer analogy is faulty, however, since a machine is nothing more than wires and silicone chips without the program. The program is the product of the programmer. Who programmed the programmer?

Are we to assume, following the materialist’s logic, that an inorganic machine programmed an organic machine? To be truly consistent, following atheistic assumptions, we would have to ask whether nothingness programmed something. What kind of trust can we place in the random firing of neural synapses found in a mass of tissue put together by _____________? Fill in the blank. Your guess is as good as anyone else’s. No one has made this point better than C. S. Lewis:

 If minds are wholly dependent on brains, and brains on bio-chemistry, and bio-chemistry (in the long run) on the meaningless flux of atoms, I cannot understand how the thought of those minds should have any more significance than the sound of the wind in the trees. [5]

There is no accounting for man and the world, between dreaming and waking, illusion and reality if the materialists are right. Of course, if we start with their ultimate presuppositions, how would we ever know?

Can machines, either organic or inorganic, be “guilty” of performing any wrongs or praised for doing what is “right”? [6] If there is no mind independent of the brain, then man is at the mercy of an uncontrollable brain that emits charges of energy indiscriminately. How can man be held responsible for his actions under these circumstances? Such a question leads to an ethical impasse.

 The impasse is an impasse. Are we thus not the doers of our deeds? Yet we feel responsible for them, we are punished or praised for them, as the case may be. It is a horrible antinomy. I maintain that it cannot be solved on the level of present‑day science which is still entirely engulfed in the “exclusion principle” (i.e., the exclusion of all forces save physical ones)…. The scientific attitude would have to be rebuilt; science must be made anew. [7]

Maybe man the organic machine should be evaluated in utilitarian terms like all other machines. Outdated computers are replaced with the latest models as are automobiles. If we begin with the presuppositional foundation of the materialist, there is no good reason not to evaluate man in this way. The ethical implications are nothing short of ominous.

  1. David Gelman, et al. “Is the Mind an Illusion?,” Newsweek (April 20, 1992), 71.[]
  2. Quoted in Gelman, “Is the Mind an Illusion?,” 71.[]
  3. Quoted in Gelman, “Is the Mind an Illusion?,” 72.[]
  4. Gelman, “Is the Mind an Illusion?,” 72.[]
  5. C.S. Lewis, “Is Theology Poetry,” delivered at the Oxford Socratic Club, 1944, published in They Asked for a Paper (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1962), 164–165.[]
  6. Richard M. Restak, The Mind (New York: Bantam, 1988), 309.[]
  7. Erwin Schrödinger, What Is Life? and Mind and Matter (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967), 131–132.[]
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