Is the Mind the Brain? A Christian Apologetic (Updated)

The subject of this writing is something that comes up fairly often.  The assertion made by the atheist to the Christian is that minds cannot exist without brains.  We must be very concise in how we respond to this assertion.  Christians do not necessarily claim that the mind does not use the brain and the brain does not use the mind.  The claim a Christian should make is that the mind and the brain are two separate things.  Claiming anything more or less than that is unnecessary.  Let me define something before moving forward.  For the purposes of this article, I am going to use the terms mind and soul interchangeably.  The main thing we are looking at here is the differences in the material (the brain) and the immaterial (whether that’s the soul or the mind).

The first thing that must be pointed out when discussing this matter is that science cannot really do much of anything to help us answer the question.  All science can do is show that X causes Y, or that Y depends on X.  To illustrate this think about the self-driving cars being tested by Google.  Let’s say you tell the car GPS where you want to go and sit back in your seat to relax until you arrive.  So this car is required for your transportation.  You are dependent on it.  Likewise, the car is dependent on you to tell it what to do.  You are not the car and the car is not you but you both need each other to reach your ends.  Now let’s say the car breaks down and you are trapped inside.  If you couldn’t escape the car, you would be dead for all intents and purposes.  But, if you can remove yourself from the car, you can get around again.  So, in this case your body is not the same thing as the mechanism that was transporting you.  I want to show that souls (and minds) and physical bodies are like this.  The soul (and mind) uses the body but when the body breaks down, you leave the body and still exist.  Your self-consciousness lives in a body but is not the body.  This is a basic description for how a Christian describes a soul.

Ok, back to showing how this matter cannot be answered by science.  A well-known atheist by the name of Peter Atkins claims, “There is no reason to suppose that science cannot deal with every aspect of existence.”  This type of thinking is called “scientism,” which I consider a sort of religious viewpoint.  If Atkins claim is actually true then there are many disciplines that we should toss out the window such as literature, poetry, art, music, ethics, and philosophy.  How can science tell us that the Mona Lisa is a work of genius? Science can tell you that adding poison to someone’s drink can kill them but it cannot answer whether the act was right or wrong.

The physical brain

The great Oxford mathematician, philosopher of science, and bioethicist, John Lennox gives us an example of how science cannot deal with every aspect of existence.  He tells the story of his Aunt Matilda baking a beautiful cake and the cake is submitted to top scientists for analysis.  The nutritionists will calculate the calories and tell us its effect on the body.  The biochemists will tells us about the structure of the fats and proteins in the cake.  The chemists will describe the elements involved in their bonding.  The physicists will analyze the cake in terms of fundamental particles.  The mathematicians will offer equations to describe the behavior of those particles.  After all of this can we say the cake is completely explained?  We know the how of everything but suppose someone wanted to know why the cake was made.  Aunt Matilda knows she made the cake for a purpose, but not a single scientist in the world can tell why she made it.  Unless Aunt Matilda tells us, they are powerless.  Science cannot answer questions of ultimate purpose.  Moreover, it’s absurd to say that because Aunt Matilda made the cake for her nephew who just earned his degree, that we must dismiss purpose as an illusion because science cannot deal with it.

There are many things that are far outside of scientific explanation.  Two big ones are laws of logic and laws of nature.  Science could not even happen without the scientist presupposing laws of logic and laws of nature.  C.S. Lewis once said, “Unless human reasoning is valid no science can be true.”  Science simply cannot explain these things.  The main point is that science deals with the materialistic world but there are clearly immaterial things in the world.  To name a few:  laws of logic, laws of nature, love, guilt, emotions, reason, etc.  If everything can be reduced to materials as atheists insist, then the atheist has a huge problem on his hands.

Darwin knew this.  He even admitted that his ideas on evolution are bunk if a human soul exists, that is to say an immaterial being that exists apart from the physical body.  Macro evolution rests on a foundational presupposition that immaterial minds do not exist.  That is why atheists must cling fervently to the idea that there is no mind, but just a moist brain.  Perhaps Obama would refer to them as “bitter clingers.”  If there is an immaterial mind, their dogma on evolution is false!  It is presuppositional belief.  Remember this!

Now that we know this topic is outside the realm of science we can discuss whether the mind and the brain are the same thing.  One way we can know this is not the case is by showing the mind is not materialistic like the brain.  If it was, then you would be an entirely different being today than you were 15 years ago.  We know the brain changes molecules completely about every 7 to 15 years.  So if your mind was completely material, it would not be the same as it was 15 years ago, but yet, you are the same being with the same personality.

Think about this:  Let’s say scientists are experimenting on your brain and they prod it in different areas.  They may prod one area and it conjures up a memory.  They may prod another area and it may conjure up an image of your sister wearing a pink dress.  Now, if your mind was just as physical as your brain, the scientist should not have to ask you what is in your mind during the experiment.  It seems somehow, somewhere he could dig around in your brain and find the image of your sister in a pink dress.  But he cannot.  That’s silly.  Furthermore, no one is aware of their physical brain.  The subject would never say, “Oh, I just felt a molecule line up when you prodded and it corresponded to my sister in a pink dress.”  So, you are unaware of your physical brain, but you are certainly aware of what’s going on inside you.

Humans can experience two types of sensations.  One type is an awareness detected by the five senses.  The other is awareness not detected by the senses such as fear, love, anger, and thoughts.  These types of sensations can be described using words and can be true or false.  Physical states cannot be true or false but thoughts can.  Mental states in the mind do not have size or shape and are not spatially located.  Everything about the brain runs counter to all of this.  The brain is completely physical.  A scientist may have more knowledge about my brain than I do but he can never have more knowledge about my thoughts, emotions, and mental state than I do.  I know what my thoughts and feelings are but a scientist can never inspect these things.

There is no amount of information in my moist, physical brain that can tell a person who I am, my dispositions, and my personality.  If I am just a brain then others ought to be able to know everything about me by prodding around in my brain.

If I am only a brain and do not have a mind, then all my behaviors, intentions, and decisions, are fixed by my brain, genes, and environmental input.  Physical objects always, always, always obey natural laws and inputs, therefore if I am only a material brain then I am simply reacting to molecular reactions based on natural laws.  If this were the case I would have absolutely ZERO grounds to claim free will.  I would no longer be personally responsible for my actions, whether good or bad.  And on top of that, I wouldn’t be able to freely type this article!!  But, as the empirical evidence shows, free will does exist and it requires that we are more than just a physical brain reacting to the laws of nature.  Therefore, I am a mind and soul that has a physical body.

When we are asked a specific question such as, “What is your middle name?” we can answer that question specifically.  How can blind, repetitive laws of nature explain our ability to answer such a question?  Should we think that molecules magically line up in the proper way by blind, repetitive laws to respond accurately?  That’s the height of absurdity!  We have the intelligence and intentionality to answer correctly.  Mere physical objects cannot do things like this.  A rock is just a rock.  It does nothing but exist as a rock.  If humans are simply materialistic beings, then why should we believe we have any more of an ability to reason than a rock?

Concerning the placebo effect, it’s always funny to see the atheists squirm with this one.  To put it in basic terms, it’s mind over matter.  A person in severe pain can be told he will be administered pain medicine.  He believes this to be that case when the doctor actually gives him a sugar pill to swallow.  Studies show that in up to 45% of patients, the mere thoughts in their mind of getting what they think is actual medicine will cause their pain to subside.  Likewise, the mind can cause the body to deteriorate quickly when consumed by depressive thinking and mental stress.  This makes no sense if the mind is physical.  The publication New Scientist magazine listed the placebo effect as number ONE on its list of “13 Things That Don’t Make Sense.”  Well of course it doesn’t make sense if you approach the matter from presuppositional Darwinian evolution dogma!

When Christians claim to have a soul separate from the body the atheists get very, very militant.  And earlier I showed why.  They think this is superstition when in fact they are the superstitious ones!  They are the ones who believe their creator magically popped into existence out of nothing by nothing by chance.  And by the way, chance is not a cause.  It’s a way to describe mathematical possibilities or to gloss over ignorance on a particular matter that can’t be answered on atheism, a sort of “God of the gaps” for the atheists.  Speaking of nothing, atheistic evangelist Daniel Dennett claims consciousness is an illusion.  Now think about that for a minute.  In order to detect an illusion you would have to see and know what is actually real!  LOLOLOLOL.  So apparently he exempts himself from his own theory.  I wonder when he wrote that nonsense if he sat there and thought, “You know, every truth claim I believe and am writing is an illusion.”  Let’s hear him talk about that on his book tour!

Daniel Dennett

It’s important to point out that the notion of the mind being the same as the brain is not a mainstream scientific idea.  This notion is popular in atheistic circles but there are plenty of scientists who don’t buy it, rightly so.  Nobel Prize winning neuroscience professor John Eccles supported the theory that the mind is a separate entity from the brain and cannot be “reduced down to the brain cell processes.”  That’s just one Nobel Prize winner.  There are hundreds if not thousands of search engine results with some great peer-reviewed resources showing how science is baffled by this subject.  And it will stay baffled for reasons we discussed.  It’s really not a scientific issue, but I digress.

So this notion of mind and brain is very easy to discern.  Sometimes it just takes a little bit of thought (pun intended).  Remember, to be a consistent atheist, materialism must be true.  To be a consistent atheist, the mind cannot be immaterial.  Former world-famous atheist Antony Flew had something to say on the matter.  He said, “Science cannot discover the self; the self discovers science.”  Perhaps, that is partly why he became a former atheist.


The Historicity of the Bible (and an answer to a skeptic)

In my previous blog post, a reader said that he didn’t believe the gospels to be “accurate, historical documents.”  When I challenged him on his claim, he gave a few reasons that I will show have absolutely no validity at all.  This person has sadly been misinformed about that which he speaks regarding the gospels.  I’ll address his charges point by point.

  1. He says the “writers of the gospel [sic] were not eyewitnesses.  They didn’t even live at the same time.”  This is simply false information.  Matthew and John were both disciples of Jesus and knew him personally.  Mark was not a disciple because of his age, but he worked closely with Peter (a disciple of Jesus) as his closest adviser for many years.  Luke was a friend of Paul, a man who knew the apostles and encountered Jesus himself.  Luke interviewed eyewitnesses in order to write his account.  So again, this charge is just absolutely false.  Two of the gospel writers were eyewitnesses and the other two knew the eyewitnesses.[1]
  1. He says, “the events have not been discussed in any other source” except Josephus, “but not that he did some really great stuff, etc. [sic].”  Again this is false information.  There are several non-Christian places where events involving Jesus have been recorded.  These include works by Jews, Romans, and Greeks.  The list is as follows:[2]

–   Josephus, (Jewish)
–   Several portions of the Talmud
–   Lucian of Samosata (Greek)
–   Mara bar Serapion (Greek)
–   Thallus (Roman)
–   Tacitus (Roman)
–   Pliny (Roman)
–   Suetonius (Roman)
–   Phlegon
–   Celcus

  1. He alleges supposed contradictions but never elaborates on the point.  It should be pointed out that the alleged contradictions that many skeptics refer to simply reflect natural variations that occur when a story is told by two different humans.[3]  The differences in the way the accounts are recorded do not in any way change the intended meaning of the event.  Nearly all supposed contradictions can be attributed to minor transmission error or that the Bible is based on eyewitness accounts that complement one another, not contradict each other.  Indeed if the Gospels were not the Gospels, they would be hailed the world over as the world’s most reliable text of the ancient world.[4]  The works of the New Testament are incredibly more reliable than any other ancient work in the history of the world as evidenced by the following chart:

Picture 2

This chart was found at

After looking at this factual chart, if one dismisses the bible as historically reliable, then one must dismiss all writings of ancient history because they do not come close to the reliability of the bible.  So as we can see, the reader’s charge about contradictions is absolutely false.

  1. He claims the authors of the Gospels were “primitive shepherders [sic].”  This could not be further from the truth.  I would love to know the reader’s source on this!

There are many, many, many other truths that prove the New Testament and the Gospels to be accurate, reliable, and historical.  The archaeological discoveries made thus far in human history have confirmed everything the bible has said about such things.  The New Testament shows that Jesus fulfilled all the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament such that if left to chance, the chances of a man fulfilling those prophecies by accident would be as great as the universe exploding into being out of nothing!  So I hope and pray that the individual making these erroneous charges will lift the veil of his presuppositions from his mind and see the truth of the bible.

[1] Markos, L. (2010). Apologetics for the 21st Century. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, p. 153.
[2] Turek and Geisler (2004). I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist.  Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, p. 270.
[3] Groothuis, D. (2011). Christian Apologetics. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, p. 453.
[4] Markos, L. (2010). Apologetics for the 21st Century. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, p. 151.

3 Examples of Secular Scientists Lying To The Public. Part 3.

Krauss’s book

Part 3.

In the final part of a three part series describing how we cannot trust the words of some leading scientists, I want to focus in on Lawrence Krauss and specifically his book, “A Universe From Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing.”  All book references refer to the latest known paperback edition of Mr. Krauss’s book.  This post could get somewhat deep and for that I apologize.  I want to keep it as clear and simple as possible.

On page XXIII Mr. Krauss admits that we do not know whether the universe is infinite but he suggests that it could be.  The mere suggestion is ridiculous as a true infinite can not be crossed.  In other words, if the past is infinitely long, then we would never arrive at today.  To illustrate it, let’s say you line up some dominoes on a table.  Now choose a domino somewhere in the middle and allow that domino to represent the present moment.  Now assume that your line of dominoes goes on to infinity in both directions.  Let’s allow the right side of the line of dominoes to represent the future and the left side will represent the past.  If we tip the “present moment” domino to the right (the future) and assume there are infinitely many dominoes actually to it’s right, then we can safely assume they will fall for infinity (proof of a possible eternity).  Now imagine if the dominoes to the left (the past) continued into the past for infinity.  If that were the case, we would never arrive at the “present moment.”  As J.P. Moreland puts it, it would be like trying to jump out of an infinitely deep bottomless pit.  So this shows that the universe cannot be eternal, it had to have a beginning.  To even entertain the notion of an infinite universe is just strange.

Also on page XXIII, Krauss discusses why there is something rather than nothing.  He says this question is usually discussed in the religious or philosophical areas.  But he claims this question can be resolved scientifically.  But in order for him to attempt this he MUST presuppose things that are impossible to explain using the scientific method such as laws of math, laws of logic, metaphysical truths, ethical judgments, aesthetic judgments, and indeed science itself.  All of these things are a slave to philosophy.  You cannot run an experiment to determine these things.  They are explained by philosophical presuppositions.  So the point is, science cannot be the only method to discover objective truth.  Why?  Because the claim itself is not a scientific claim, but a philosophical one!   The funny thing about this is at least he admits on page 149 that he assumes the laws of physics.  This admission is so huge, that it undermines his entire book!!

Krauss then proclaims that the scientific answers we have obtained “ALL suggest getting something from nothing is not a problem.  Indeed something from nothing may have been required for the universe to come into being.”  Wow, what a quote.  My first observation is to note his admission that the universe came into being.  Earlier, he posited that the universe could be infinite.  Hmmmm.  Secondly, getting something from nothing is just bizarre.  On page XXIV, he attempts to define nothing and accuses theologians of constantly changing it definition.  Theologians and apologists usually define it as “no thing” or “non-being” or “the absence of anything.”  He then says theologians are intellectually bankrupt and outrageously states that “surely ‘nothing’ is every bit as physical as something.”  Are you kidding me?  This is akin to what atheists accuse theists of doing, and that is using the “God of the Gaps” silliness.

Another important observation is that Krauss always places the word nothing inside quote marks such as, “nothing.”  What this means is that he really doesn’t mean “no thing” at all.  He claims nothing is defined as “empty space.”  But any third grade student knows that space is indeed something!  Time is also something which seems to be assumed by Krauss.  The following gets a little difficult to process but it’s important:  Whatever caused the first event could not have been inside of time.  It had to be timeless or transcend time.  Suppose an event happens such as a tree blowing and it falls.  If this occurs then we know time already exists.  Both the cause and effect are in time.  Whatever caused the first event had to first create time.  Krauss wants to presuppose that time is already there.

On page XXV he calls theists intellectually lazy.  That’s just a ridiculous rant such that a twelve year old would do.

On page 143 he admits that science is only interested in the “how” questions and not the “why” questions.  THAT my friends is intellectually lazy!  Moreover, to dismiss the “why” questions right off the top is to say, “you know what, I’m going to dismiss the possibility of an intelligent designer before anything else.”  Absurd and lazy!

On page 161, after determining that nothing=empty space, he just suggests that we should “allow for the merging of quantum mechanics and general relativity….”  So all of the sudden out of nowhere these two things just come into existence?  He admits later down the page that allowing the rules of quantum mechanics is a “tricky” possibility.  Tricky indeed.  It seems to this reader that Krauss is trying to trick his audience.

Lawrence Krauss

All of these things Mr. Krauss brings up are very interesting to explore and we should never stop exploring them.  But it is my belief that based on the best possible evidence and the use of sound logic, the study of these matters will ultimately lead us to God, the uncaused cause.  He is uncaused because he has never operated by the limits of time and space.  It’s possible he may have entered time, but he is not bound by it.  In other words, if a man creates a lake he may enter it to swim but he is not bound to stay in it.  The relationship of God and time are similar.

There are strong cases to be made for God being the first cause as opposed to “nothing” being the first cause.  Very briefly, design is evidence for a personal cause to the universe.  When my wife prepares the supper table, I can see that she has the ability to set it in a precise way.  It doesn’t just become that way out of nothing.  It took intelligence.  It took ability and intention to set the table.  Also, there is order and fine-tuning all over the universe.  Science has a major problem in this area because science ALWAYS presupposes order before it can explain anything at all.  The only way science can explain order is to cite other examples of order.  It’s circular.  This is very important to understand.  Furthermore, information in DNA is great evidence for a creator.  DNA isn’t just randomness which would exude no structure.  DNA provides information.  Information is orderly and provides instruction such as the words in this blog.  DNA contains VAST amounts of information similar to the way humans express information as instruction.  This is great evidence for a creator.

There are many more ways to think about this subject, but it’s important to see why we simply cannot always take the words of scientists at face value.  As we have seen in the three articles, there is usually some hidden “gotcha” presupposition or oftentimes just outright lies.  We need to learn to detect these things so that we can become better thinkers.

I hope you enjoyed the three part series.  As time moves forward, I want to shift our stance from a defensive one to an offensive one and describe the vast amount of evidence for why someone should believe in God.  I will still give defenses anytime the need arises.  If there is anything you’d like for me to write about as it relates to Christian apologetics, please let me know!  I’m enrolled in Biola University’s Apologetics Program and I have learned a great deal that has been added to my near decade of personal study on these matters.