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“. . . as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man” (Acts 17:28,29).

THE WORLD WE LIVE IN IS FULL OF WONDERS. It is, as Tolkien said, “full of strange creatures beyond count.” But surely, the strangest of these by far is the human race. Human beings are so different from any of the other creatures, the more we learn about our human qualities, the more we see just how wide the gap is. (If you want to read a book that will make you think, get a copy of Mortimer J. Adler’s The Difference of Man and the Difference It Makes.)

In Acts 17:28,29, Paul pointed out that the personal nature we know we possess is a clue to the nature of God. The Greek poets had acknowledged that we are the “offspring” of God. If that’s true, Paul argued, how can we think God is any less personal than we are? He was right. If we have personal minds, those minds can’t be explained by impersonal forces. Even if our physical brains could have evolved, what scientists call the “mind” is a phenomenon the brain simply cannot produce by itself.

Today, neuroscience believes it is making progress in explaining human consciousness in completely naturalistic, biological terms. We are told that it’s only a matter of time before science discovers how the physical brain produces the “mind.” But honestly, the campaign promises of that bold project will be hard to fulfill.

Human “personhood” is very familiar to us (it may be hard to define, but we know it when we see it), and it can’t be explained from below itself — its origin can only be from above itself. The non-personal could never have produced the personal, no matter how many trillions of years it had to work with. And our physical brains can never be, all by themselves, the generative source of our rational thought and free will. In our heart of hearts, we know this. We know that what we are can only be explained by the creative act of a Personal Being who had the power to make us in His image.

“I can’t understand man, Agnos, without invoking the transcendent, the supernatural, the immaterial . . . Augustine once confessed, ‘The manner in which the spirit is united to the body cannot be understood by man, but it is the essence of man.’ Even with theism man remains a puzzle, but to me the puzzle is augmented geometrically if theism is false” (Arlie J. Hoover).

Gary Henry — +

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