Recently I came across two thought-provoking articles which contained insightful quotes that I wanted to share with my readers. One is from a former magazine writer and editor named Misty, who is now actively involved in home-schooling, and the other is from a theologian and philosopher named Callie Joubert, who holds degrees from the UKZN (Ph.D.), Univ of Johannesburg (D.Phil), Univ of Stellenbosch (M.Phil./B.Phil.) and Unisa (BA).
The first quote comes from an account by Misty of her personal pilgrimage from unbelief to faith:
I had lived as an avowed atheist for more than a decade and couldn’t imagine that The Truth even existed, much less it could be found. Especially when I couldn’t even accept that God was real.
Fortunately, God literally changed my mind about Him with a thunderbolt. One day, I was reading an article about the human genome project (I was a technical writer), when I was drawn to look at my own hand. What had before been a clever machine of flesh and bone was suddenly revealed to me as a pure miracle of creation. It was truly that instant; one second I was an atheist, and the next I was a believer. I knew with absolute certainty that only an intelligent designer–God–could have created something as incredible as me!
But accepting God’s existence didn’t solve anything; in fact, it created new problems. I’ve had friends who are Deists, who believe God created the universe (including humanity) and then left it alone…much like a clockmaker might create a masterful clock he sets into motion and then ignores. To me, it was simply unthinkable that God would create the glorious universe–including all the amazing people such as my husband–and then just walk away. I realized that the beauty that had brought tears to my eyes even as an atheist could only be interpreted as the uniquely personal stamp of a loving God who delighted in His creation. If God created the majestic earth, gave us the joy of music, and gave me the mind to appreciate it, then it made no sense that he’d create all that just to turn His back on it.
I found Misty’s chronicle of her personal journey very moving.
The second quote comes from an article in the Answers Research Journal (published by Answers in Genesis) titled, “Christians, the Brain, and Person: Conceptual Confusion, Unintelligibility, and Implications.” I would recommend the article to readers who are interested in the mind-body problem. It concludes as follows:
Neuroscientists (and many Christians) assume that the brain has a wide variety of capacities: the brain interprets and stores information, recognizes symbols, analyzes, thinks, believes, knows, designs computers, determines what is true, paints pictures, deciphers images, analyzes, prioritizes, learns, understands, remembers, and makes decisions. I have attempted to show why I think all such thinking and talking is incorrect, incoherent, and unintelligible, and what some of the implications are if Christians adopt the thinking and way of talking about the brain as most neuroscientists do. The initial reaction of readers may well be indignation and incredulity. Of first importance is for Christians to be careful not to convert the wine of Scripture into the water of neuroscience. Of second importance for Christians interested in understanding the brain is to understand the moving spirit behind neuroscience. And of third importance is to realize that conceptual clarity contributes to understanding what is known, and to clarity in the formulations concerning what is not known.
A person or self (a soul), as I have argued, is not a brain. Mental (psychological), moral, and spiritual properties define us as the kind of things we are. In simple terms, human beings are created in the image of their Creator (Genesis 1:27–28; James 2:7), to be like Him, meaning imitating and mirroring Him—spiritually, intellectually, and morally—in and through their bodies. Christians therefore accept their Creator as a paradigm Person, and accept God as ontologically, epistemologically, and morally analogous with themselves. A human being is a unity of an immaterial soul or spirit and a material body. A person is self-conscious and not brain-conscious, and needs no knowledge of the brain to function as an imitator of God (cf. Ephesians 5:1). The brain, no doubt, makes it possible for us (not the brain!), to sense, perceive, think, reason, believe, feel, learn, know, understand, remember, and decide, and hopefully, to change our minds about how we think and talk about a person and the brain.
Much food for thought there.
Comments are welcome.