God’s Not Dead – February 25, 2022


Why Consciousness Is Best Explained By The Existence Of God

ByJimmy Wallace

Published42 mins ago

Why Consciousness is Best Explained By the Existence of God

Image Credit: Liza Summer from Pexels

Despite the progress of science, fundamental questions remain related to the issue of consciousness. Philosopher Michael Ruse opined, “Why should a bunch of atoms have thinking ability? Why should I, even as I write now, be able to reflect on what I am doing…there is no scientific answer.” [1] Such a question is indeed difficult to answer for those adhering to a strictly materialistic worldview; human consciousness and the ability to comprehend the universe are more reasonably explained by an appeal to the supernatural.

A number of views exist with regard to human consciousness. Those who hold a view of “reductive physicalism” believe human beings to be “reducible to their physical properties… [so that] the mind or the mental is simple brain chemistry.” [2]  In such a view, the human brain and mind are identical. [3] As a result, “free will” is illusory and human behavior is the result of a series of purely physical responses (much like the falling of a very complex series of dominoes. However, there are several problems with this approach.

First, it flies in the face of human experience; each person experiences the world as though they are a distinct individual making distinct choices. Secondly, there is no known naturalistic mechanism which would explain how the experience of consciousness could arise from the material composition of the human brain alone. [4] Further, if each human being is simply going through the motion of inevitable behavior, concepts related to morality and ethics cease to have meaning. There is no human good nor evil by definition if human beings are essentially organic automatons. Yet, morally good and evil actions appear to exist (which themselves cannot in principle be explained by science [5]), indicating human free will and consciousness truly exist.

But if human consciousness exists as something more than simply illusion, it is difficult to understand how it could have arised from unguided, purely naturalistic evolutionary processes. Atheist Colin McGinn makes a striking admission with regard to the miraculous appearance of human consciousness when he asks, “How did evolution convert the water of biological tissue into the wine of consciousness?” [6] So unanswerable is this question in the world of science that many have resorted to simply asserting consciousness “is just something that happens as a natural byproduct of our brain’s complexity.” [7] Perhaps this is why some ascribe to physicalism to begin with, so as to deny the existence of the mind as a distinct entity and thus not have to account for its appearance.

Not only does humanity appear to have consciousness minds, but humanity is able to comprehend the universe around them with their minds. Human consciousness has allowed for the discovery of “mathematical reality.” [8] Not only do mathematical concepts exist in such a way that they could be discovered by conscious minds, but these mathematics allow for human understanding of the universe with surprising effectiveness. Physicist Eugene Wigner notes, “The enormous usefulness of mathematics in the natural sciences is something bordering on the mysterious… there is no rational explanation for it.” [9] It is on this basis that Christian mathematician Johannes Kepler argues God “intentionally ordered the universe in a way that could be comprehended by the human intellect.” [10]The most reasonable conclusion to draw is that human beings have rational minds which exist apart from the brainCLICK TO TWEET

The most reasonable conclusion to draw from available evidence is that human beings have consciousness in the form of minds which allows for the ability to comprehend the world around them, and that these minds exist as something “beyond the brain.” [11] Theism enjoys a greater explanatory power when it comes to this issue. The myriad problems facing a naturalistic explanation are erased in a theistic worldview. Therefore, the most reasonable conclusion to draw is that human beings have rational minds which exist apart from the brain (called souls in Christian theology) given to them by a Creator who designed the universe for humanity’s study and comprehension.

[1] Michael Ruse, Can a Darwinian Be a Christian? (Cambridge: Oxford University Press, 2001), 73, quoted in Lee Strobel, The Case for a Creator (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004), 247.
[2] Melissa Cain Travis, Science and the Mind of the Maker (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2018), 179.
[3] Sharon Dirckx, Am I Just My Brain? (Epsom: The Good Book Company, 2019), 24-26.
[4] J.P. Moreland, Scientism and Secularism (Wheaton: Crossway, 2018), 151.
[5] Moreland, Scientism and Secularism, 155-157.
[6] Colin McGinn, quoted by J.P. Moreland, himself quoted in Strobel, The Case for a Creator, 263.
[7] Strobel, The Case for a Creator, 264.
[8] G.H. Hardy, A Mathematicians Apology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 123-124, quoted in Travis, Science and the Mind of the Maker, 157.
[9] Eugene Wigner, “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences,” in The World Treasury of Physics, Astronomy, and Mathematics, ed. Timothy Ferris (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1991), 527, quoted in Travis, Science and the Mind of the Maker, 161.
[10] Melissa Cain Travis, “A Grand Cosmic Resonance: How the Structure and Comprehensibility of the Universe Reveal a Mindful Maker,” CRI, last modified August 19, 2019. https://www.equip.org/article/a-grand-cosmic-resonance/.
[11] Dirckx, Am I Just My Brain?, 24-26.

Worth the Read -2.22.22

We Are Both Job and Job’s Friends

February 21, 2022by: Eric Ortlund

Seeing Ourselves in Scripture

One important question in reading any biblical text is who you, as a reader, identify with. This is easier for some texts than for others, of course. In Genesis, for example, it is not difficult to identify with the patriarchs as they struggle and endure in trusting God’s promises to bless them and redeem creation. But who do we identify with in the book of Job? Job’s spirituality and level of blessing are so impressive (Job 1:1–4) that probably few readers would think themselves equal to Job—and his suffering is so extreme, so nightmarish, that few would want to. On the other hand, the friends are so bombastic, tiresome, and quick to condemn Job that probably most of us think I hope I’m not like that!

Strange as it might sound, however, I think we are meant to identify both with Job and his friends. You can see this in several ways. With regard to Job, the first chapter of the book portrays Job-like suffering as something every saint will have to go through at some point. You can see this in the background of the conversation between the Almighty and the Accuser in Job 1:6–12,; Job 2:1–6. Comparing these passages to chapters like 1 Kings 22Isaiah 6, and Revelation 4–5, it is easier to see that the Bible portrays the heavenly throne room as one where the Sovereign sits on his throne, receiving reports from his angelic servants, and making policy decisions as he rules creation (I think that’s in the background of the sons of God “presenting themselves” before God in Job 1:6). This means that the decision God makes about Job—allowing the Accuser to ruin his life, even though Job has done nothing to deserve it—reflects his policies for the whole world. The first chapter of Job is showing us that God’s normal policy with his saints is generosity both in spiritual blessings and earthly ones (Job 1:1–4)—but that God reserves the right to interrupt that policy in order to prove the reality and sincerity of our relationship with him.

Suffering Wisely and Well

Suffering Wisely and Well

Eric Ortlund

In Suffering Wisely and Well, Eric Ortlund explores different types of trials throughout Scripture, particularly the story of Job, revealing the spiritual purpose for pain and reassuring readers with God’s promise of restoration.

Sobering as it is to consider, it must be so. After all, the issue of whether a Christian loves God for God’s sake, irrespective of what secondary blessings we gain or lose in our earthly lives (Job 1:9), is deeply relevant to every Christian. In a way, it is the issue of our lives. If we love God for some reason external to himself, we’ll be bored in heaven. I don’t think the book of Job is implying that our suffering will be as extreme as Job’s (having to bury all of our children, sick to the point of death, financially ruined, all in one day). But God will sometimes allow an ordeal which has a Job-like quality. Because God loves us and is fitting our souls for eternity, he will sometimes put us in the position of having every earthly reason to give up on him as a way of purifying our motives for being a Christian in the first place. In other words, probably every Christian will, at some point, find themselves echoing the question of Job’s wife in Job 2:9Why hold on to integrity with God when all I get is pain? And through the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit, the only answer possible in that situation will come to us: God, and God alone. He is the only reason to persevere in being a Christian. And he is enough, and more than enough, even when we suffer grievously.

As God enables modern-day saints to persevere in their loyalty to God in the midst of suffering, each one of us finds we identify with Job not just in a kind of suffering which mimics his (in a less intense way), but we also mimic him in his worship. The first chapter of the book of Job shows—very poignantly—Job worshiping God whether God takes or gives (Job 1:21). God can fill Job’s life with the blessings of Job 1:2–3, and Job will worship; God can take it all away, and Job will worship, because God is worthy in himself. In the same way, when God allows some pain to enter our lives which makes us genuinely question whether God is really worth it, we are delivered into the position where we can both see and affirm his all-surpassing worth like we never did before.

All this is to say that the opening chapters of Job show us one sobering but necessary aspect of discipleship, as well as the profound worship which arises from it. Job’s ordeal is unique in its intensity but not its application. God will allow each one of us to suffer in ways we do not understand, which will force us (weeping and dressed in sackcloth) on our knees next to Job. The reader identifies with Job in Job’s pain, but also in the profound intimacy with God we find there, and the comfort it eventually brings (Job 42:5–6).

Seeing Ourselves in Job’s Friends

This is not all the book of Job has to teach us, however. I think there is a way in which we are meant to identify with the friends and be instructed by them, if only by way of negative example. This is not explicit in the text. But Old Testament wisdom texts frequently focus on speech which is wise and healing or foolish and hurtful (it seems as if every second or third verse in Proverbs has to do with the tongue!). So as we watch Job’s friends who, with the best of motives (Job 2:11), torture poor Job by condemning him chapter after chapter, surely each one of us forms a resolve never to imitate them by blaming one so righteous as Job and smearing them as a profligate sinner (Job 22:5). In other words, the more wearisome the friends become, the more we are provoked to do better by listening patiently to fellow suffering Christians instead of blaming them. It is not for nothing that God’s anger falls on the friends at the end of the book (Job 42:7).

He is the only reason to persevere in being a Christian, and he is enough, and more than enough, even when we suffer grievously.

The temptation to blame the victim is as sneaky as it is constant, and it is very wise of the author of Job to put this issue before us so persistently as we read. Surely we have all met modern-day versions of Eliphaz and Bildad and Zophar—Christians who mean well (Job 2:11), who have some good theology (Job 5:8–18), but who also have an answer for everything, who are suspiciously quick to tell everyone what they should be doing when their lives don’t go well, and who are quick to blame others when their advice isn’t gratefully received. Perhaps we’ve played that role ourselves. It’s shockingly easy to do. This is because, in blaming a modern-day Job, we shore up our sense of a coherent world where everyone gets what they deserve quickly and obviously. We subtly comfort ourselves that we will never suffer that way because we haven’t committed whatever mistake our Christian brother or sister supposedly did. On the other hand, if we sit with someone quietly and sympathetically in their pain, without blaming or instructing them, only waiting with them for God to draw near, we also allow the possibility that next time it will be us who comes to church (as it were) dressed in sackcloth and ashes—suffering openly, unable to hide it, and not knowing why. This is, to say the least, uncomfortable. But the book of Job continually presses upon us the importance of wise friendship with modern-day Jobs. Perhaps the first step in such friendship involves not saying much at all (what a blessed relief from the friends!).

The book of Job is difficult to understand and tiring to get through. But some of its profoundest lessons are very simple. To the extent that we identify with Job, we learn that all God wants from us in a Job-like ordeal is to stick with him—just don’t give up on God. He’s not angry with us or trying to teach us a lesson. We only wait for his comforting presence (Job 42:5) and restoring mercies (Job 42:10). The ordeal will do its purifying work on its own. And to whatever extent we identify with the friends, we are instructed to repent of our tendency to pontificate, to solve someone’s problems for them, to blame them when their lives collapse. May God grant us that wise and patient friendship with each other in inexplicable suffering.

This article is adapted from Suffering Wisely and Well: The Grief of Job and the Grace of God by Eric Ortlund.

Eric Ortlund

Eric Ortlund (PhD, University of Edinburgh) teaches at Oak Hill College in London, England. He previously taught Old Testament at Briercrest College and Seminary in Saskatchewan, Canada, for ten years. He and his wife, Erin, have two children.

Pulpit Update – February 18, 2022

Jad Crouch is training for the pastorate; he and Amber are looking at Village Missions.  I’m his mentor/advisor as he studies through the Contenders Discipleship Initiative, VI’s pastor training program.    One of the experiences I wanted to provide was preaching a series, so he is going to preach the next three weeks and then will be meeting each week with me and a small team as we talk him through what worked and didn’t work in the pulpit.  I miss having evening service wherein I could give him three months rather than three weeks, but God knows! 

The following three weeks, through the end of March, Pastor Jim will be preaching and I will be on vacation.

You might be asking yourself how it came about that I’m taking 6 weeks out of the pulpit??   Last summer, long before my wife became the Administrative Assistant here, I asked the Elders if I could take a 6 week sabbatical*.  We planned to do some reading, do some work on the house, some day trips, and one important visit to the desert southwest.  That particular plan went out the window with her new job, but I kept the dates the same and am using half for Jad’s practicum (I’ll be in the office and at church those three weeks).  I’ll use the other half for a bit of personal R&R.  


Pastor Scott

P.S. May 5, 2022 is our 25 year anniversary here at BRBC/WOGF – I didn’t want to be gone over Easter and Mother’s day, so this Anniversary Sabbatical is coming just a little bit early.

Who deserves your honor? February 11, 2022

“It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not deserve them.” (Mark Twain)

We think of “honor” the same way Mark Twain uses it.  “Honor” is usually received because of a deed or position.  It means to bestow esteem, dignity, and respect on a person who is of high office or who is being rewarded for something accomplished.  Sometimes a thesaurus gives us help with clarifying a meaning.  Synonyms for honor as a verb are: admire, appreciate, celebrate, commemorate, commend, laud, observe, praise, revere, worship, acclaim, adore, aggrandize, compliment, decorate, dignify, distinguish, ennoble, esteem, and exalt.  

In 1 Peter 2:17, from this Sunday’s study, believers are instructed to “honor all” (“honor all men” in English translations).  Peter isn’t limiting honor to fellow believers because in the next phrase he tells us to love the brotherhood.  Peter instructs the church to HONOR EVERYONE.    Now for us literalists this presents a problem, because if I hire a band to play “Pomp and Circumstance” every time I interact with someone, or start waving palm branches while bowing to said person, someone is going to call the crazy police and have me hauled away.

Perhaps the best way to view honor is to ask what’s the opposite of honor?  Am I honoring someone if I disregard them?  How about if I despise them?  Or overlook them?  Maybe I can honor all people by legitimately treating them, listening to them, regarding them, the way I want to be treated, listened to, and regarded.  In the second chapter of Philippians, right before Paul launches into the emptying (kenosis) of Jesus, he tells the church to humbly regard one another as more important than yourselves.  I submit that Peter wants us to do the same with everyone we meet!

I offer this old, almost proverbial, story and I hope it sparks your “umph” to treat others with dignity as it does mine!  Blessings, Pastor Scott

Once there was a little old man. His eyes blinked and his hands trembled; when he ate he clattered the silverware distressingly, missed his mouth with the spoon as often as not, and dribbled a bit of his food on the tablecloth. Now he lived with his married son, having nowhere else to live, and his son’s wife didn’t like the arrangement.

“I can’t have this,” she said. “It interferes with my right to happiness.” So she and her husband took the old man gently but firmly by the arm and led him to the corner of the kitchen. There they set him on a stool and gave him his food in an earthenware bowl. From then on he always ate in the corner, blinking at the table with wistful eyes.

One day his hands trembled rather more than usual, and the earthenware bowl fell and broke.

“If you are a pig,” said the daughter-in-law, “you must eat out of a trough.” So they made him a little wooden trough and he got his meals in that.

These people had a four-year-old son of whom they were very fond. One evening the young man noticed his boy playing intently with some bits of wood and asked what he was doing.

“I’m making a trough,” he said, smiling up for approval, “to feed you and Mamma out of when I get big.”

The man and his wife looked at each other for a while and didn’t say anything. Then they cried a little. They then went to the corner and took the old man by the arm and led him back to the table. They sat him in a comfortable chair and gave him his food on a plate, and from then on nobody ever scolded when he clattered or spilled or broke things.

A Grimm’s Fairytale

A Royal Priesthood – February 4, 2022

We are also, “Living Stones,” “A Chosen Race,” “A Holy Nation, and “A People for God’s Own Possession. We are new creatures whose hearts of stone are now hearts of flesh. Yet, it’s impossible for us to please God unless we believe in Him, inclusive of, I believe, what He said about us!

Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who come to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Hebrews 11:6