The human brain has to be some of the greatest evidence for God’s existence.
I read a completely fascinating article on Forbes a couple of weeks ago called, “Why Your Brain Isn’t a Computer.” In this article, Alex Knapp discusses some of the difficulties of creating human-like artificial intelligence.
Forbes, obviously, is not a faith-based publication, and the article gives me no reason to believe that Knapp is a Christian. Which makes it even more interesting.
Knapp explains how scientists are trying to understand the human brain according to a “computational theory of mind,” which basically argues that your brain is a really complicated computer, and then he dismantles that theory a bit.
He explains the amazing complexity of the human brain, commenting,
“… the hardware would have to essentially mirror the hardware of the brain. This enormously complicates the task of trying to build an artificial brain, given that we don’t even know how the 300 neuron roundworm brain works, much less the 300 billion neuron human brain.”
But I won’t attempt to discuss neuroscientific theories, because I’m not that smart. (I don’t even think “neuroscientific” is a word.) What jerked my mind out of the haze it was just starting to drift into as I read, was this:
You don’t have to delve into the technical details too much to see this in your life. Just consider the prevalence of cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias. Cognitive dissonance is the ability of the mind to believe what it wants even in the face of opposing evidence. Confirmation bias is the ability of the mind to seek out evidence that conforms to its own theories and simply gloss over or completely ignore contradictory evidence. Neither of these aspects of the brain are easily explained through computation – it might not even be possible to express these states mathematically.
(Emphasis not mine)
I read this sentence over and over to make sure I was getting it right:
“Cognitive dissonance is the ability of the mind to believe what it wants even in the face of opposing evidence.”
I know that critics and non-believers will point to this concept to say that this is why some people are religious. Some would say that it’s a flaw, or a quirk, in the human brain that allows people of faith to believe.
But the fact that cognitive dissonance is something that scientists don’t really understand tells me something else:
The human brain is wired for faith.
Scientists cannot explain cognitive dissonance through computation, and “it might not even be possible to express these states mathematically.” The point Knapp is making is that these are two functions of the human brain that experts don’t fully understand, which means they can’t recreate them in artificial intelligence. There isn’t one part of the brain that controls these functions, or one chemical reaction that creates them. They’re measurable realities, but that’s all we know.
Maybe I’m practicing a little confirmation bias of my own, here, but believing something in the face of opposing evidence is celebrated throughout scripture as “great faith.” Just read through Hebrews 11.
I couldn’t help but smile as I scanned that paragraph over and over and read, “You were created for faith.”