what does your opinion about ketchup mean? (more reflections on human consciousness)

human consciousness

This is a continuation of a series on Christian Apologetics. For more posts like this, click here and here.

My main takeaway from this week’s study is this: the very fact that we have an inclination to do apologetics, to know what we believe and want to defend it, is evidence that we are a product of an Intelligent Designer.

What do I mean by this? Referring back to Douglas Groothius’ work “Christian Apologetics,” he states that “apologetics means philosophical engagement, and philosophy trades on logic.”[1] So what we are dealing with here is a universal language of understanding; every nation and tongue throughout human history can concur that A = A (or, the law of identity.) Therefore, we share a fundamental way of synthesizing information in order to come to a reasonable conclusion. Logic is not, then, the arena of the privileged, of tradition, or of personal taste, but the elemental way that we were made to think. Groothius continues, “These observations fit the biblical claim that all humans are made in the divine image and so think in essentially similar ways, despite significant cultural differences.”[2] Thus, we were universally made by a Creator to think in logical pathways.

But are these patterns of thinking merely the result of generations of evolution? To answer this, we first have to recognize the existence of individual consciousness. You and I both have an “inner life;” we have thoughts and dreams that no one else can see or know, unless we disclose this information to them. We have a private internal life, one that is our true selves, in a sense. This is what philosophers and scientists refer to as our consciousness. To illustrate the point, just imagine if you were in a terrible accident of some kind and lost a portion of your physical body, say, an arm. Would you still be yourself? Or even further, if you sustained severe brain damage and had memory loss…would you still be you? Of course you would—nothing can change who you essentially are because who you are at the deepest and most vital level is your soul, the imprint of being made in the image of God. Your soul, or self, or mind, is not located in a specific part of your body or brain, but in all of you. Your soul fills the container of your body.

So when we ask the question of physicalism (or whether we are simply made of matter alone), we must consider the evolutionary use of the soul. How would this complex inner life be passed down throughout humanity? What would the point be? Think about what you chose to have for breakfast this morning—this is an example of how you effortlessly exert your own personal free will. This minor decision wasn’t the byproduct of the laws of nature because you are not solely made of matter. Any time you make a choice about something, or assert an opinion, you are exercising your mind/self/soul/will. As the Transformers theme song goes, you are more than meets the eye!

Accepting the premise that we have a soul begs another question: where did it come from? If we were merely subjected to the laws of physics and chemistry, then we would never have thoughts, beliefs, ambitions, choices, or a deep sense of purpose. These things come from a metaphysical place, not one that can be measured by scientific method, and they are not things that can be biologically inherited. As J.P. Moreland declared, “Here’s the point: you can’t get something from nothing.”[3] Scientists will never find a specific “career ambition” gene or a “I hate ketchup” molecule because this part of humanity is intangible.

These feelings and convictions are unique to humanity and they point to a higher mind, one that has knowledge to such a vast degree that he is able to share the knowledge with his creation. Wilder Penfield, renowned father of modern neurosurgery, came to this conclusion: “To expect the highest brain mechanism or any set of reflexes, however complicated, to carry out what the mind does, and thus perform all the functions of the mind, is quite absurd. What a thrill it is, then, to discover that the scientist, too, can legitimately believe in the existence of the spirit.”[4]  Evolution has no way to quantify, measure, or observe our inner life because this is a special part of who we are: this is the imprint of our Maker, the Imago Dei, on his creation.

The striking evidence of the human consciousness, or a soul, can only point to one thing—we are made in the image of an Intelligent Designer God, for the purpose of responding to God in our own free will.


[1] Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2011), 45.
[2] Groothuis, 49.
[3] Lee Strobel, The Case for a Creator (Grand Rapids, Mi: Zondervan, 2004), 278.
[4] Strobel, 264

Published by Sara Beth Longenecker

Sara Beth Longenecker is a writer and blogger based in Nashville, TN. She helps women sort through the noise of our culture by bringing them truth, beauty, and everyday theology.

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