Abraham Varghese examines five mental phenomena with three preliminary comments: 1) These are not proofs but transcendent necessary conditions 2) These are not probabilities or hypotheses but “fundamental realities that cannot be denied without contradiction” and 3) Immediate experience of these phenomena are sufficient evidence.
The general argument: Materialism can never produce these phenomena–a mind is the only necessary and sufficient explanation.
Phenomenon 1: Rationality
The universe is rational; it has an inner logic that we are capable of understanding. There is a correlation between the workings of nature and our abstract description of those workings. Atheists cannot account for this on the basis of natural laws nor on the basis of something coming from nothing. Nothing has no properties.
Phenomenon 2: Life
Materialism cannot account for the origin of living beings, self-replicating, goal seeking, autonomous agents. Dawkins’ explanation is that “scientists invoke the magic of large numbers… the beauty of the anthropic principle is that it tells us, against all intuition, that a chemical model need only predict that life will arise on one planet in a billion billion to give us a good and entirely satisfying explanation for the presence of life here.”
The ‘magic’ of large numbers? One in a billion billion is entirely satisfying? Okay.
Phenomenon 3: Consciousness
Conscious states (awareness, intentionality) cannot be reduced to neurons. There is no essential difference in the ultimate physical constituents of a heap of sand and the brain of Einstein. What about atheistic functionalism? What matters is the function that performs the action and not the phenomena itself. John Searle, a prominent philosopher of mind responds to functionalism by saying, “If you are tempted toward functionalism, I believe you do not need refutation, you need help.”
Phenomenon 4: Thought
The ability to do abstract reasoning, to note differences/similarities, to conceptualize general and universal ideas (the difference between a particular dog and a dog in general). It is simply unintelligible to talk of intellection having a physical counterpart. Your brain does not understand; you understand. Computers may mimic human processes, but they do no ‘understand’ and will never have understanding because they cannot conceptualize.
Phenomenon 5: The Self
Our first-person, subjective experience unifies our ‘self’ into a coherent life that cannot be reduced to a series of physical states. Your self is obviously not just something physical, just as it is not just something supra physical. It is an embodied self, an ensouled body; ‘you’ are not in a particular brain cell or in some part of your body.
Thomas Nagle wrote a famous article in the 1970′s titled, “What is it Like to be a Bat?” We have a first person perspective of life that cannot be duplicated or reduced to any objective state. Our life is unified by these experiences even though we change physically throughout our entire life; you are always you even though your body has changed.