Mind Over Matter: Does Your Mind Exist Apart From Your Brain?
Do You Have Free Will?
The mind exists. Mind over matter is real. The mind controls the brain—not the other way around, as scientific materialists would preach. To them, anything that casts any doubt on their godless religion is dismissed offhand as ‘not scientific.'
We are conscious, we have willpower, we are emotional, we have a special purpose, and we search for meaning. The world changes us, yes, but we also change it.
It is common sense that we have minds. We say, "Mary finally made up her mind," we do not say, "Mary's brain told her what to do."
So the divide is between people who do not believe mental processes actually exist—those who think that eventually science will explain away consciousness, mind, self, intentions, desires, beliefs, aspirations, goals, expectations, morality, good and evil, right and wrong and free will—and those who believe consciousness and the mind exist independently of the physical brain; we do not only undergo experiences, but we also create them. And we are self-conscious.
If nothing exists except the material world, your thoughts are not really your own, since they are produced by chemicals and electricity far beyond your control. Yet many famous scientists, even those not Christian or religious at all, believe there is a non-physical world in addition to the physical world. To name just a few: the ‘Father of Parapsychology’ and influential author of Extrasensory Perception J.B. Rhine; the ‘Philosopher of Science’ Karl Popper; and the ‘smartest man who ever lived,’ John von Neumann.
The great physicist Sir James Jeans tells us: “Consciousness is fundamental, and the material universe is derivative from consciousness, not consciousness from the material universe. The universe seems to me to be nearer to a great thought than to a great machine, in the mind of some Eternal Spirit.”
Neutrinos & Quantum Physics
Now, the discovery of neutrinos, ghostly particles that typically pass through normal matter unimpeded and undetected, shows the Cosmos is not merely physical. A neutrino has no matter or energy and defies gravity and electromagnetism. Quantum physics will put a stake through the heart of scientific materialism. It has already shown that subatomic particles do not occupy any definite positions in space and time—as scientific materialism posits everything does.
Quantum physicists even acknowledge the mental nature of the universe. At the quantum level, the fundamental layers of physical reality are collections of force fields. We have learned that an observer changes what is observed. For instance, an unstable elementary particle will never decay as long as you are watching it. But when you stop watching, it deteriorates, which means it is impossible to separate the observer entirely from the thing observed. That is quantum physics, and your brain is a quantum system.
We have learned that there are spaces between the neurons in your brain, called synapses. They conduct signals using parts of atoms called ions, which function according to the rules of Quantum Physics, not Classical Physics. Your free will decides the pattern of neurons in your brain based on your decisions. That is how you can hold an idea in your head—if you want to. And whatever you pay attention to changes your brain circuitry.
If you focus on a given thought, you hold a pattern of neurons in place, and the very idea of keeping an idea in place is a decision you make. If neural circuits receive a great deal of traffic they grow; if not, they shrink, and the amount of traffic depends on what we choose to pay attention to. We can change the patterns of our neurons consciously. But a collection of atoms cannot become conscious, aware of their own existence.
Who Is In Charge: You Or Your Brain?
The truth is that your thoughts originate apart from the physical brain. Consciousness is not material; it exists outside the domain of science. A computer cannot think on its own and neither can your gray matter. There is a ghost in the machine.
The brain is the medium through which you tell your body what to do. When you speak to me, your brain isn't telling you what to say; you are commanding your brain what to make your vocal cords say. And if you have a mind independent of your brain, it is possible that your psyche will live on long after your brain dies, perhaps even for eternity.
“The most striking feature of our own existence is our sentience. It may be to the interests of science to turn a blind eye to this central fact of the universe, but it is certainly not in the interests of the truth." - Michael Polanyi, polymath.
People who believe nothing exists except matter and energy sometimes think the purpose of science is to buttress their worldview. They want to free man from God because they want to release man from God’s moral expectations. They expect less of men and women because they do not think men and women can help what they do.
Since they can do nothing except whatever their brains tell them to do, they have no free will to choose the right path or the wrong path. In fact, there is no right or wrong way. So the idea is we need to stop blaming people for what they do. But if these atheists are correct, all of our thoughts are worthless, including all of our philosophies, including the Theory of Evolution.
Are We Responsible For Our Actions?
We have good reasons to reject their view of the human robot that can only do as programmed. We have good reason to believe man is a spiritual animal—the only one in the universe.
The molecules that make up your brain might be replaced 10,000 times during your lifetime. And yet, you are still you, not only to others, but also to yourself. All the material that produced your consciousness is long gone, but your spirit remains.
Some folks love to think their genes make them do what they do. So we latch onto any theory about the ‘gay gene,’ ‘fat gene,’ ‘infidelity gene,’ ‘addiction gene,’ or the ‘violence gene.’ The idea is to excuse bad behavior—often sexual or criminal—by saying it is caused by your genetics. So it is not your fault. You didn't select your genetics in the first place.
That is a neat way of absolving us from responsibility for our actions. And so it is another means to attack the Bible, which says God holds us responsible for what we do. He does not accept the ‘I couldn’t help it’ excuse.
You cannot observe consciousness. As B. Alan Wallace writes in his book the Taboo of Subjectivity: "Despite centuries of modern philosophical and scientific research into the nature of the mind, at present, there is no technology that can detect the presence or absence of any kind of consciousness, for scientists do not even know what exactly is to be measured. Strictly speaking, at present there is no scientific evidence even for the existence of consciousness! All the direct evidence we have consists of nonscientific, first-person accounts of being conscious."
Other evidence for mind over matter includes placebos and near death experiences (NDEs). There have been cases where placebos have cured patients who were severely mentally ill and suicidal. Not only that, but when told to expect nausea as a side effect, they got nauseous! The placebo effect is defined as "a healing effect created by an ill person’s faith that a remedy has been given to their problem when in fact the healing could not possibly be the result of the medicine.”
Doctors have doled out placebos for millennia. Drug tests show that placebos work about forty percent of the time—actual medicine only has to work forty-five percent of the time to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. How can a placebo work if you have no mind of your own? Sixty percent of doctors have prescribed placebos. Why isn’t this more widely known? There is no money in placebos for drug companies.
Near Death Experiences
Does your mind die when your body does? That is the question. To Wallace again: “Mainstream science insists that individual consciousness vanishes with the death of the body. However, given its ignorance of the origins and nature of consciousness and its inability to detect the presence or absence of consciousness in any organism, living or dead, neuroscience does not seem to be in a position to back up that conviction with empirical scientific evidence.”
Many people have had experiences they remember after being clinically dead—with no brain activity whatsoever—while under medical care. Some can recall precisely what the medical personnel said and did. That certainly seems to be proof that the mind exists even if the brain is dead.
In one study, 18% of clinically dead people brought back to life could recall such details and 7% report a profoundly religious experience. Almost all people who have an NDE will afterward believe in life after death, yearn to know God better, care more about loving other people, know life has meaning and purpose, no longer fear death, and develop steadfast faith. The only disappointment seems to be that they came back to this life. Caution: There are some who have described their NDE as nightmarish and hellish, but they were atheists.
Religious Spiritual Mystical Experiences
Billions of human beings have had Religious Spiritual Mystical Experiences (RSME). Such experiences are worldwide phenomena throughout human history. The godless sneer that such people are poor, uneducated, unintelligent, low class, and easy to dupe. But the actual research, in America at least, proves that RSMEs are more common among highly educated people, and among upper class people, and those who have had an RSME are psychologically healthier than those who haven't.
And here is the kicker: Scientific research shows that those who have had RSMEs have changed for the better—they become better people. Studies show that they become less interested in wealth, status and material possessions but more involved with loving others and being compassionate; they care more about the world, other people, and themselves—they seek God, and want to become more like the divine, more like Jesus.
Now, think about this. If RSMEs are delusions or hallucinations, then they are the result of brain deficiencies or malfunctions. But there has never been any research ever that has shown long-term positive changes in people because of delusions or hallucinations. In fact, they always produce adverse outcomes. We are not meat puppets. The death of your body does not mean the end of you as a person. Your mind, consciousness, and self, lives on.
The Media Promotes Scientific Materialism
Our media promotes scientific materialism. It doesn't show any skepticism towards claims that support it but shows plenty of skepticism for any argument against it. Sociologist Richard Flory explains that this is because Journalism sees itself as gradually taking as the place of religion:
“Journalism was the ideal successor to religion because it alone could provide the appropriate guidance for both individuals and society. To the extent that religion is presented as having any positive role, it is in purely functional terms, in the sense that moral precepts from religion might be a source of strength for some individuals, but had no authority for modern society.”
So-called Evolutionary Psychology claims to have solved all the riddles of human life and history by blaming Evolution for all of it. It argues that to believe in God is to be deluded. Its explanation for the fact that religion is a worldwide phenomenon all through history is that our brains must have been hardwired to dream up a phony God and phony religious beliefs. But wait a minute . . . I thought Evolution weeds out the bad stuff and kept the good things as it progresses. Why would our brains be ‘hardwired’ to believe a delusion?
As John Lennox puts it so well: “Any final explanation of the universe and human beings that does not include God will unravel into darkness. Naturalistic attempts to explain the existence of life solely in terms of the nonliving, of consciousness in terms of the unconscious, of human beings solely in terms of animals, of morality solely in terms of the dictates of pain and pleasure, are bound to fail in the end.”
We know that subjectively experienced mental states have real effects on our bodies and wellbeing. Our hopes and fears, joy or depression, faith or skepticism, affect us physically. Our powers of subjective observation make science possible. But to the godless, the mind, mental states, and even ideas are not real.
The priests of science cannot answer even fundamental questions about our world. Science has no clue what consciousness even is. Neuroscience can tell us nothing about how brains supposedly create mental experiences.
Scientist Richard Feynman, a militant atheist, admits, "It is important to realize that in physics today we have no idea what energy is." But he still teaches that energy underlies, empowers, and regulates all that exists.
B. Alan Wallace Chimes In
All human beings have faith in some view of the world that they cannot prove. As B. Alan Wallace declares:
“We can passively attend to mental imagery or create it intentionally. We can ascertain whether we desire something and whether we intend to try to fulfill this desire. And we can sense whether we believe, disbelieve, or doubt a proposition.
“We are as directly aware of many mental phenomena—such as thoughts, feelings, and mental imagery—as we are of sensory phenomena. The mind thinks, feels, desires, intends, remembers, imagines. For each of us as human subjects, what is more real than our joys and sorrows, hopes and fears, desires and beliefs, and our sensory experience of the world about us? On what grounds are we to believe that these mental phenomena are any less real that such physical phenomena as mountains and buildings, let alone quarks and electromagnetic fields?
“In stark contrast to all other relationships between physical phenomena and their emergent properties and functions, when observing the brain, no mental states are observed; and when observing mental states, the brain remains out of sight. It is conceivable to learn a great deal about experienced mental states without knowing anything about the brain, and it is feasible to learn a great deal about the brain without knowing anything about subjective mental states.
“Under the doctrinal influence of scientific materialism, the public has been led to believe that scientists know things about the mind of which they are in fact ignorant and to believe that ordinary human subjects do not know things that they do in fact know perfectly well.”
Man Is More Than An Animal
The forces of darkness present this worldview to our youth: “Only the physical world is real. There is no God. There is no objective truth or morality. Spirituality is an illusion. The Cosmos and all that is in it, including living creatures, arose accidentally. You have no purpose, meaning, or significance. Your physical body solely determines everything you think or feel or do. Death brings the annihilation of you as an individual forever.”
Here is the main thing about that: It is presented as scientific, but it is not. None of it can be verified by science. There are many facts - much evidence - that show us the falseness of this worldview, but they are dismissed as ‘unscientific' by its disciples.
Any who disagree are to be called ‘ignorant' and ‘uneducated.' It reduces the human experience to the physical only. So, naturally, hedonism is the response of the indoctrinated—which is the goal of the dark spiritual force behind this worldview that preaches, “ Physical pleasure is what makes life worth living. Indulge. Go for the gusto. Just do it.”
The fact is, scientific materialism is designed to keep you a spiritual infant; to stop you from reaching your potential as a spiritual being; to prevent you from finding God; to stop you from attaining the transcendental peace and joy that endures, which only comes from Him; to stunt your growth so you focus on base animal instincts while not finding faith, hope, and love.
Look at the fruit produced by this ideology where it was implemented by state force in the Soviet Union and Red China. Misery, suffering, and mass murder.
The thing is, we are intentional beings with a spiritual dimension. We recognize virtue and vice, morality, and wisdom. As Roger Scruton says, “What is deepest and most lasting in our lives is religious faith, erotic love, friendship, family ties, and the enjoyment of art, music, and literature.”
Man is the only spiritual species on Earth; the only one made in God's Image; the only one aware of itself, aware of evil, aware of right and wrong, aware of our own mortality, aware of God and capable of a relationship with Him. Only man makes art and music, clothing and jewelry, and has hope, meaning, and purpose. Only we can worship and communicate with God.
This article originally appeared as a chapter in the book by the same writer, James A. Watkins, entitled What Does The Devil Do All Day?
© 2020 James A Watkins