16. The Ultimate Thought Experiment

Now, the thoughts of an intelligent neuroverse would be very different from those of a human. To explore this concept, let’s imagine a slightly twisted thought experiment, where we put a brand new living human brain, with no initial thoughts or memories, in some kind of sealed jar, completely in isolation from a body or the outside world.
   Of course, in reality, human brains need a body to survive, and they also receive sensory inputs from the body. But since this is a thought experiment, let’s assume we can somehow create a fresh new adult human brain without any memories, language or previous thoughts, and that we can keep it alive and provide it with enough stimuli to give it at least the potential to think.
   The question is, would this brain develop thoughts? Perhaps, but those thoughts would be very different from our typical human thoughts. After all, this brain has no sensory input from a body. It has no eyes to form pictures, and no ears to hear sounds. It also has no language. Assuming it is capable of thought, let us explore the potential stages of development it would need to go through, in order to have thoughts of any substance.
   Since it wouldn’t have a store of memories to draw upon, its very first thought would likely be a kind of simple self-awareness. It wouldn’t have a language in which to express this, and no particular need to express it anyway. At best, the thought would be a vague sense of existence, or “I.”
   The next stage of awareness, or rather, the next phase transition of this emergent consciousness, would perhaps be a sense or recognition of itself as a distinct entity. Although this brain wouldn’t yet have the language to express itself, the thought could perhaps be something similar to “I am” – an awareness of itself (“I”) and that it exists as something (“am”).
   The philosopher Descartes, in his attempt to prove God by philosophical means, started with the idea about himself that “I think, therefore I am.” However, this is actually quite a complex statement. It assumes an understanding of the self (“I am”), of thought (“I think”), and of logical consequences (“therefore”). It also presupposes the language out of which the statement is constructed.
   The emerging consciousness in our thought experiment wouldn’t yet understand concepts like thinking and logic, and wouldn’t even have a language. Neither would this brain have any notion of “other.” As far as it is aware, it is everything that exists. But if further thoughts are to develop, it would need a concept other than itself. It would need to go beyond the notions of “I” and “am.”
   This sounds like a dilemma. How does an entity that, as far as it is aware, is everything, think about something that is not itself? In its world, there is nothing else. For this reason, I think the next phase transition would be the emergence of a self-similarity in its brain, a kind of reflection of itself. It would be the equivalent of a second neural network, an “other,” but intimately connected to the first, within the same brain. It would, in a sense, be a second “I am,” which would then allow for the development of communication between the two networks.
   The nature of this communication would perhaps follow a kind of mathematical logic to begin with, and then develop into more abstract symbology, which in turn could become more conceptual and reflective thoughts. This could be the source of its intelligence, understanding and imagination. However, the language used to communicate between these two networks and to develop these thoughts would bear little if any resemblance to human language.
   Now, all of this might sound vaguely interesting, if a little abstract; but what has this got to do with the existence of God? I have used this thought experiment to explore the first thoughts an isolated brain might have without a body. It is also an analogy for the first thoughts a neuroverse might have, if consciousness and intelligence were to emerge.
   And this is where it gets really interesting. In chapter 3 of the Bible book of Exodus, God revealed his own name to Moses. In this letter, I have presented God’s name as YHWH, to reflect the four Hebrew letters of God’s name, often referred to as the “Tetragrammaton.” The name means “I Am” or “I Will Become.” In the English language, God’s name is often translated as Yahweh, or as Jehovah in the King James Version of the Bible.1
   However, before Moses was introduced to the name YHWH, he was given a longer version, which is translated in the King James Version as “I AM THAT I AM.” 2 It could perhaps also be translated as “I Am Who I Am” or “I Am Because I Am” or “I Will Become What I Will Become.”
   Names are important in the Bible, especially when they are given by God. For example, Abram, perhaps meaning “Exalted Father,” was renamed by God to Abraham, meaning “Father Of A Multitude,” because this is what he was to become. The name of his wife Sarai was changed to Sarah, meaning “Princess.” 3
   I propose that, by giving the name “I AM THAT I AM” first, God was revealing to us something about his nature. He was the first to have self-awareness (“I”), the first to be aware of his existence as an entity (“I AM”), and it reveals that he also exists somehow as a reflection or mirror image of himself (“I AM ... I AM”).
   This reflection, this other “I AM,” is what enabled God to become who he is (“I AM BECAUSE I AM”), and became the source of his intelligence, understanding, and ultimately, even of his imagination, which is the ability to make images in the mind. If names signified the nature of a person in ancient times, and God really was the first intelligent being to exist, would he not commemorate this in his own name?
   Furthermore, scientists invoke the Anthropic Principle to explain why our universe seems to be fine-tuned for life. They say that if it weren’t, we wouldn’t be here to observe it. But because conditions are suitable for life, we are here. In other words, they say we’re here because we’re here. God is therefore entitled to apply the same logic, and declare that He is because He is.

1 See Exodus 6:3, Psalm 83:18, Isaiah 12:2 and 26:4 in the King James Version. 2 Exodus 3:14. 3 Genesis 17:5,15.


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