“Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and still live? . . . To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him” (Deuteronomy 4:33–35).
WHEN GOD SPOKE TO ISRAEL ON MOUNT SINAI, SOMETHING HAPPENED THAT HAD NO NATURAL CAUSE. Assuming that what is recorded actually took place, the event was not triggered by any natural event that preceded it — it was the introduction of something “new” or “extra” into nature’s progression of cause and effect, something from outside that closed, deterministic system.
I suggest that the operations of our own reason are similar, not that they are divine communications, but that they cannot be explained as the result of natural causes producing natural effects. Many neuroscientists today, of course, dispute this; they argue that what we call human “reason” is nothing more than the brain at work as a physical organ. When science has learned more about the brain, they say, we will recognize that a person never has any thought that cannot be accounted for neurologically and biochemically. Every firing of every neuron is the result of something within nature. Nothing freely decided upon ever comes into the sequence — whatever happens, it was determined materialistically.
But think about this comment from Douglas Groothuis: “if materialism were true, we could never grant reasons for holding beliefs since all our brain states would be rigorously determined in a materialistically caused fashion. Thought would be reduced to a mere reflex action on the order of a muscle twinge. But can glorified muscle twinges weigh evidence and reach warranted conclusions?”
We ought not to minimize what is required if our reasoning is to be objectively valid. It must be the working of something personal — an independent force not chained to the sequence of physical cause and effect. And in the biblical account, that is exactly the case: we are dual creatures who straddle the physical and spiritual worlds. We have a brain, but we also have a mind — a reasoning faculty that reaches far beyond what the brain (which is its servant) can do.
“The validity of our reasoning depends upon the transcendence of reason itself. Reason must stand outside of nature in order for it to give us truth about nature. Our thinking, if we are to regard it as true or false, must be a shot from Something beyond nature, a beam from the Light beyond the sun, a participation in the eternal Logos” (Joe Rigney).