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Table of Contents


Chapter  1

Part I
Chapter  2
Chapter  3
Chapter  4
Chapter  5
Chapter  6
Chapter  7
Chapter  8
Chapter  9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12

Part II
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17

Chapter 18


Part I: Embodiment — and The Incarnation

Chapter 9

The Ghost in the Machine


     Evolution is essentially a philosophy of materialism. No self-respecting evolutionist will countenance the view that evolution provides only a partial answer to the existence of a living world. Matter, life, consciousness, and self-consciousness in an ascending scale form part of a great chain in which there are no discontinuities, nothing that cannot be quantified and ultimately understood in electrochemical terms.
     The chain is deterministically linked and must be preserved without the introduction of any mechanism or any source of energy that is not absolutely part of the system. The Universe is a uni-verse, not a multi-verse, and one set of laws governs all that happens within it. Divine interventions are unallowable.
     Thus if there is such a thing as soul or spirit or will or self-conscious mind, it is not another order of reality but a direct outcome or spin-off of matter that has reached a certain stage of complexity. Ernst Haeckel (1834— 1919) in an address before the German Association (of Science), assured his audience that once the chemical constituents of a cell

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(carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and sulphur) are correctly assembled, they "produce the soul and the body of the animated world, and suitably nursed, become man. . . .  With this single argument the mystery of the universe is explained, the Deity is annulled and a new era of infinite knowledge is ushered in"! (79)
     Today, those evolutionists who are strictly logical in their thinking ought not to find anything to quarrel with in this statement. Although they admit that there are still many unanswered questions, they continue to have confidence in the thesis. For many generations evolutionary biologists and physiologists have interpreted their research findings in strict compliance with this philosophy. Thus, when in recent years a series of discoveries
have been made that challenge the view that man is effectively a machine by "rumours of a ghost inside," all were surprised — including the finders themselves.

     One of the most impressive lines of evidence of this "ghost" has come from the work of Wilder Penfield who died recently after many years of highly successful treatment of epileptic patients at the Montreal Neurological Institute. During these years, Penfield brought relief to well over a thousand subjects by a brain operation which was daring indeed both in its conception and its execution. What he found was as much a surprise to himself as it was to his colleagues.
     Now, to keep the record clear, it is appropriate to note the very important distinction that is being assumed between mind and brain throughout the rest of this chapter. The mind is the thinking, the will, the conscious attention, something non-physical, the self which scrutinizes the situation or contemplates its meaning; the brain by contrast is the organ which the mind uses, a physical object located in the skull and composed of billions of nerve cells each of which may have ten thousand connecting fibres to neighbour cells — an incredibly complex structure.

79. Haeckel, Ernst, reported in Fortnightly Review, London, vol.39, 1886, p.35.

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     Penfield began his life work in the belief that the brain accounts for the mind as the brook accounts for the babbling noise it makes. Stop the flow of water and the babbling ceases; destroy the brain and the mind is destroyed. Mind and babbling are epiphenomena — not realities with independent existence.
     Before describing this work, let me quote something he wrote in retrospect after his retirement: "Throughout my own scientific career, I, like other scientists, struggled to prove that brain accounts for the mind. . . .  Now, perhaps, the time has come when we may profitably consider the evidence as it stands, and ask the question: Do brain-mechanisms account for the mind? Can the mind be explained by what is now known about the brain? If not, which is the more reasonable of the two hypotheses: that man's being is based on one element, or on two?"
     Very briefly, the technique which Penfield used was to lay bare a segment of the cortical surface of the brain by removal of a portion of the skull. The motor area thus exposed is known to be related to the involuntary movements of epileptic subjects. The patient was lightly anaesthetized locally for the opening up of the skull and felt little or no pain, but was kept fully conscious because his or her ability to communicate with the surgeon was essential to the success of the operation.
     The surgeon was thus enabled to probe the surface of the brain in search of the damaged area. The probe itself was composed of a single electrode, using a 60 cycle 2 volt current. Contact with the brain surface caused no sensation of pain whatever, but when the damaged area is thus stimulated, the patient at once becomes aware that an epileptic fit is pending. By this means the offending tissue could be located and, hopefully, corrective surgery applied.
     Rapport between patient and surgeon had to be at all times extremely close, and Penfield himself inspired enormous confidence. But what he discovered unexpectedly was that the electrode stimulation of very specific areas

80. Penfield, Wilder, Mystery of the Mind, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1975, p.xiii.

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brought an experience of recall for the patient which was so vivid that the subject frequently suspected Penfield of using tape recordings. The recall involved sound, coloured vision, and even odours. Any one area could be contacted again and again and the recalled events would be perfectly replayed in great detail in the patient's consciousness. On one occasion the electrode was applied to the same spot 60 times and the recall experience was on each occasion precisely the same. (81)
     What was so surprising was that the recall in no way at all interfered with the patient's full awareness of all that was taking place in the operating room, including conversations among the staff and even street noises outside. The subject was experiencing two kinds of consciousness: one from some long past situation, and the other from the circumstances surrounding the operation. It was therefore quite possible for the subject to live in two worlds and to discuss in great detail the recalled events with those who occupied the operating theater. It was also quite
possible for the patient, wherever the recall involved music, to both whistle or hum the piece being played: and often even to identify it.
      One day, Penfield had an experience which opened his eyes in a new way to the existence of a ghost in the machinery. Here is how he described the event.

      When the neurosurgeon applies an electrode to the motor area of the patient's cerebral cortex causing the        opposite hand to move, and when he asks the patient why he moved his hand, the response is: 'I didn't do it. You        made me it. . .'  It may be said that the patient thinks of himself as having an existen separate from his body.
              Once when I warned a patient of my intention to stimulate the motor area of the cortex, and challenged him to        keep his hand from moving when the electrode was applied, he seized it with the other hand and struggled to hold        it still.
              Thus one hand, under the control of the right

81. Penfield, Wilder and Phanor Perot, "The Brain's Record of Auditory and Visual Experience: A Final Summary and Discussion," Brain, vol.86, (4), Dec.,1963, p.685.
82. Penfield, Wilder, in the "Control of the Mind", a Symposium held at the University of California Medical Centre, San Francisco, 1961, quoted by A. Koestler, Ghost In the Machine, London, Hutchinson, 1967, p.203f.

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 hemisphere driven by an electrode, and the other hand which he controlled through the left hemisphere,
were caused to struggle against each other. Behind the 'brain action' of one hemisphere was the patient's mind.        Behind the action of the other hemisphere was the electrode.

     Penfield was driven to conclude, therefore, that the brain was not causing the mind but was the servant of it and its instrument for willed action. This chance finding was repeated many times and has since been experimentally demonstrated beyond a shadow of doubt. The brain controls the action but the electrode controls the brain. In all willed action, precisely the opposite is true: the mind controls the brain and uses it to effect its purposes upon the material world. To the extent that the brain is a physical organ whose development has resulted from a combination of genetic endowment and the accidents of experience, it must be said, as Viktor Frankl put it, that while the brain conditions the mind, it does not give rise to it. (83)

     A second striking proof of precedence of will over matter, of mind over brain, has now been provided by some elegant experiments by H. H. Kornhuber. (84)
     To describe his findings with scientific precision would be to snow the reader, and lose him! But very simply, here is what he discovered. Whenever an action of any kind is willed, measurable electrical potentials are generated in the motor area of the cortex that controls the action. These potentials are observed prior to the action that is willed but only after the "willing." Thus between the conscious exercise of will and the activity that results there is a clearly measurable delay of sometimes up to several seconds duration.
     In this brief but significant interval, there is a flurry of electrical impulses over a wide area that gradually narrows down and concentrates the signal to bring about the precise movement willed. The delay between willing and activity is quite measurable, and the nature of the will and the

83. Frankl, Viktor, in a discussion of J. R. Smythies' paper, "Some Aspects of Consciousness" in Beyond Reductionism, edited by Arthur Koestler and J. R. Smythies, London, Hutchinson, 1969, p.254.
84. Kornhuber, H. H., "Cerebral Cortex, Cerebellum and Basal Ganglia: an Introduction to their Motor Functions" in Neurosciences: Third Study Programme, edited by F. O. Schmitt & F. G. Worden, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1973, pp.167-80.

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resulting activity correspond.
      In commenting on this discovery, the neurophysiologist Sir John Eccles remarks, "it is rather like the sergeant saying 'Company. . .' before giving the specific command which is to follow. It seems to warn that the will is about to act on the mechanism."
     Eccles concludes, "Thus we can regard these experiments as providing a convincing demonstration that voluntary movements can be freely initiated independently of any determining influences within the neuronal machinery of the brain itself."
(85) In short there really is a ghost in the machine, capable of giving orders to the machinery and able to use the machinery for its own purposes.
    The problem that still remains, of course, is how the mind or will (or, in our context, the spirit) actually makes contact with the brain. I can normally move my hand at will, but I cannot move the hands of my clock on the wall. Clearly there is no connecting link with the clock hand over which to mediate the message. But if my will is a non-physical spirit, where is the actual connection with my own brain that makes it move my own hand? The process is just as elusive. It has been suggested that if we could really resolve this problem, we might have a better idea of how God acts upon the physical world, of how faith could move mountains; even of how the Lord instantly stilled the violent storm on the Sea of Galilee. *

      Descartes recognized this interaction of spirit and body, and also that it works both ways. Today we speak of these two kinds of interaction as psychosomatic and somatopsychic, i.e., spirit/body and body/spirit interactions

85. Eccles, Sir John & Karl R. Popper, The Self and Its Brain, Springer Verlag, International, 1977, p.294.
* Perhaps the Lord Himself can take over the autonomy of the human mind to use that mind's brain to effect a desired end: for example, in the writing of Scripture, or in giving skill to the hands — as He did to Bezaleel for the embellishment of the Tabernacle (Exodus 36:1). And perhaps there is more truth than we realize in the saying that the devil finds work for idle hands to do.

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depending upon which takes the initiative. But like Descartes who finally abandoned the search for the "contact point," we too have come little or no nearer to a solution.
     However, Descartes did uncover a phenomenon that we all recognize readily enough when it is pointed out to us in the right way, a phenomenon which clearly demonstrates (as Penfield and Kornhuber have shown) that there is someone there in the machinery making it work for us.
     What we have in mind is the ability we all possess to see the objective world stereoscopically, that is to say, in depth, in three dimensions and not just in two as an ordinary photograph presents it. We can perceive distance between objects and we can perceive the roundness of things, so that they are neither all at the same distance from us nor are they flat.
     We are able to do this because we have two eyes spaced on average 650 mm. apart. By using a camera with two lenses similarly spaced so that two separate photographs of a scene can be taken at the same instant from these two different positions, and by mounting these two photographs appropriately so that each eye sees only one picture, we suddenly find ourselves back in the three-dimensional world. 
      I have, and use, just such a camera and never cease to be thrilled by the stereoscopic effect. One wonders why these cameras are not more widely used, except that one needs a special viewer.
     Now the interesting thing is that when one first looks into the viewer, one is met by two different pictures. They are very little different, though they are momentarily irreconcilable. The difference between the two pictures is clearly revealed if we superimpose the one over the other and project them together on to a screen. The picture on the screen will be fuzzy and blurred, rather like a photograph taken by a camera that has been moved slightly at a critical moment. No amount of focussing of the projector will resolve the blurred or fuzzy picture.

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     I have emphasized this because it is of crucial importance. The fact is that the two pictures cannot be reconciled in any way by mere overlapping projection onto a screen, nor even by projecting the two pictures through the lenses of the two eyes on to the two retinas. Descartes presumed that the signals from the two retinas which are screening two irreconcilable pictures reach a single place in the brain where they coincide and fuse themselves into a single picture in three-dimensional form. He was never able to trace the nerves, or he would have discovered that these two signals do not fuse as a single picture in the brain but remain as independent signals
in the visual cortex, one in the left hemisphere and one in the right hemisphere.
     How, then, do the two conflicting scenes come to be viewed as one? The conclusion is that the MIND and not the BRAIN fuses and synthesizes them. So far it has been impossible to say how this is done.
     The fact is that when anyone for the first time looks through my viewer, he or she will find that the two views are not reconciled at once. But then quite suddenly, in a way which is very hard to define but is a very real experience, they are reconciled and two contradictory pictures in the flat are instantly experienced as one in the round. The 'shift' is remarkable and is very sudden. The two scenes converge unexpectedly and, voilá, the picture emerges in three dimensions! It is an interesting experience and a wonderful demonstration of "mind" at work.
     Moreover, from the moment the viewer has achieved one three dimensional resolution, thereafter one can go through several hundred pictures, and there is no such experience of delay and sudden resolution as occurred in the first viewing. Indeed, one develops a kind of 'pre-set' facilitation that allows reconciliation to proceed much more rapidly, even long after having laid aside the viewer. Days and months can intervene, but the skill to obtain immediate stereo vision is not lost. It would appear that the mind has learned the trick of it.

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     It is not the two eyes which look out upon the distant scene that give us a view of things in the round: it is the fusing power, the reconciliation of two quite discrete and

Diagram showing how the pathways of the separate signals
from the two eyes lead to two separate areas of the brain.

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subtly conflicting pictures that is done by the mind. The brain provides the materials in coded form: the mind or
soul or spirit uses these discrete materials to form a view of reality that corresponds to reality in depth. Without this fusion, all would be confusion. When the two signals are presented incorrectly due to a fault in focussing power of either one of the eyes which may have occurred as a result of a breakdown of the machinery, it is the mind or soul or spirit which compensates by ignoring one of the two inputs and thus resolves the irreconcilable conflict. It is true that when this happens we lose depth perception but at least the mind "makes sense" out of what the eyes are signalling confusingly. The mind can only fuse what the brain is presenting in the correct relationship.
     Were it not for this power of the mind to do what neither the camera nor the eyes themselves can do, we would have to cover one eye to eliminate the contradictions in the two pictures! But without stereovision we could not perceive the depth or thickness of things, nor reach out with perfect confidence and grasp them, nor even thread a needle except with some difficulty and by constant trial and error. To drive a car, we should have to gauge our distance from the car ahead by its changing size, and the picture of the world we have would be flat. We would get used to it. People with only one eye do. But many kinds of "comprehension" of reality in the physical world would be far more difficult, if not impossible. It is doubtful if the soldering of an extremely small electronic circuit manually could be done. In a thousand ways there would be confusion until we had learned in each situation and at that particular moment how to relate to space and distance. By it, we know where we are within the framework of things.
     The mind does for us what the eyes cannot do, what the stereocamera cannot do, what the stereomicroscope cannot do, what the stereoprojector cannot do — in short, what no machine can do. It does this by fusing two flat pictures that conflict, into one picture which provides the added

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dimension of depth. Without the mind to manage the input, there is no creation of order, no meaningful fusion. The machine itself no more does the fusing than the computer "adds." There is no adding going on in the computer. It is just a machine re-routing signals according to design in such a way as to give us a signal meaningful only to the mind. The computer doesn't know what it is doing.
     Now it is obvious that many animals below man have stereoscopic vision, though not over quite as wide a range in some cases. It must be assumed, therefore, that in these animals, as in man, there is a ghost in the machinery integrating the two discrete signals reaching the brain. Does this then mean that animals also have a body/spirit constitution, so that they too are souls?
     The answer appears to be, Yes. Indeed, the Hebrew word for soul (nephesh) is frequently used of animals and was actually applied to animals (in Genesis 1:20, 21, 24 and 30) before it was applied to man! Is there no difference, then, between man and the animals in this regard? There certainly is, for although the fate of the bodies of both men and animals is to return to the dust, the fate of the spirit is quite different. Ecclesiastes 3:21 tells us that the spirit of man goes upwards (i.e., returns to God who gave it, Ecclesiastes 12:7) but the spirit of the beast goes downwards to the earth to share the fate of its body. In other words, the destiny of the two is diametrically opposed.

     We have been using a number of terms such as mind, mindedness, will, soul, spirit, etc.,
indiscriminately. It is unfortunate that there are so many terms to describe the activities of the
ghost in the machine. All of these terms are appropriate and each one of them is essentially a
spiritual faculty rather than a physical one. I want to say a word about what is meant by
consciousness and the even more difficult-to-define phenomenon, self-consciousness.
     Children are occasionally born without a brain. Yet they react to sounds and odours and to physical contact

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In spite of this reactivity, there is no evidence of actual consciousness and, of course, there is no brain to mediate it. Thus, in effect, there is "no one there." They are alive but act like a person in a deep, deep coma, except that they never will and never can come out of it. They have no conscious contact with outside reality because they have no cortex. This situation points up the fact that a surprising level of reactivity is possible in the total absence of consciousness.
     If animals have consciousness, then one must ask whether there are levels of consciousness corresponding to the level of development of their central nervous system. Plants, of course, "sense" the environment by various means without a central nervous system and therefore presumably cannot be said to have consciousness. Animals, on the other hand, even the simplest of them like the amoebae, have consciousness at least of other bodies around them: but man is intensely self-conscious, i.e., conscious uniquely of his OWN body, both in times of health
and in sickness.
     The last point is important. Animals seem obviously conscious of their own bodies in times of sickness or when wounded, but man is conscious of his own body most of his waking life. When a baby first discovers its hands and feet are part of itself, the first glimmerings of self-consciousness have probably been born. It is to be noted, therefore, that in man the body introduces itself early in life and engenders a new kind of consciousness, consciousness not merely of other bodies but of one's own. We see our own bodies as something possessed,
something we can stand apart from and consider objectively.
     In this matter of personal body identity, I think it is highly significant that man is the only creature who cares for the bodies of his dead — including his own! No animal is known to take anything more than a momentary and passing interest in a dead body (except as food of course), not even the dead body of its own mate. No attempt is made to protect the body from predators once it is dead.

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     But even from the earliest times, as is known by the presence of flowers in the grave, man has buried his dead quite deliberately. Not infrequently the dead are placed in a foetal position, a fact which some suggest is witness to a hope of re-birth or reincarnation.
     Theodosius Dobzhansky noted "that all people everywhere take care of their dead in some fashion, while no animal does anything of the sort."
(86) And it is a significant fact of human behaviour that a dead body continues to be protected by custom or by law from injury. Indeed, we seem to have stricter rules about the mutilation of the dead than we do of the living. Man's consciousness of his own body or of the bodies of his fellow men seems to be very different from mere animal consciousness.

     Sir John C. Eccles (Nobel Laureate for his work in neuro-physiology) in 1977 co-authored with Sir Karl R. Popper a fascinating book supporting the reality of the soul or spirit and thus the dual nature of the human constitution.
     In the process of writing the book, they had planned to title it The Self and The Brain. But subsequently, they both became so convinced by the consideration of the steadily accumulating experimental evidence of a managing spirit or mind within the machinery, that they changed the title. The change was a very small one from the typesetter's point of view, but it was a highly significant one in its implications. The new title became The Self and ITS Brain.
     Eccles concludes that the self-conscious mind is not simply engaged in passively observing the signals from its body but in actively sorting them out. Continuously displayed before it is a whole complex of neural inputs from the eyes, the ears, the nose, and — be it noted — the skin (which is the largest organ of the body). It selects from this chain of signals in the brain whatever is of interest to it, blending the result from different areas of the cortex. The body supplies a rich input, and the mind deliberately disregards some and attends to others.

86. Eccles, Sir John, Facing Reality, New York,, Springer-Verlag, 1975, p.94, quoting Dobzhsnsky's The Biology of Ultimate Concern.

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      In this way the self-conscious mind achieves a unity of experience which becomes entirely personal. The brain is its own brain, a personalized computer that it uses. According to this hypothesis, the prime role in this process is played by the self-conscious mind, exercising both its selective and its integrative abilities.
     They were impressed with the bond which exists between spirit and body, a bond often commented upon by theologians in the past from Thomas Aquinas (1224 —1274) to James Orr (1844—1913), and right down to a number of present writers. All have sensed the closeness of this bond which arises out of or generates in man a strong sense of personal identity, far more profound than is to be observed in any animal. It is a form of consciousness that is related entirely to the spirit's awareness of its own body, which is now acknowledged by some of the best modern students of animal life as being unique to man.
     James Orr made much of this bond and attributed to it the abhorrence of physical death which seems to have characterized man's thinking throughout history.
(87) The spirit in man, though burdened by the body that spoils so many of his highest aspirations because of its demands, nevertheless is so strongly attached to it that it fears the rupture of death throughout life. The most dramatic and most perceptive definition of death, and the truest theologically considered, is still "the separation of the spirit from the body." This is what death is.
     We long to be freed because it is a house in ruins, but we tremble at the prospect of this separation as one might tremble at the loss of a companion of a lifetime, and that is what the body has been.
     Mind or spirit is the seat of authority. The brain is an instrument which serves it. The whole is integrated, unified, ordered by the mind. This non-physical reality is master of the meaningful operation of the body which is, ideally, its servant, but due to the Fall may and does become its master all too often.

87. Orr, James, God's Image in Man, Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, reprint 1948, p.252.

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    This struggle is graphically described by Paul in chapter 7 of Romans. The Fall had consequences as fatal to the body as to the spirit. We see interaction for both good and ill exemplified throughout Scripture.
     The Lord remarked sadly upon it in Matthew 26:41, "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak," as He came to his companions in his terrible hour of anticipation and found them, alas, asleep. Paul bewailed it when he cried out, "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death" — while at the same time saying that he really had no desire at all to be unclothed, i.e., disembodied; though meanwhile he groaned in the body he had (2 Corinthians. 5:4). Here was an unwanted interaction.
     But the Bible speaks of co-operative interaction as well. In a passage seldom noted (Mark 9:29), after the disciples had come to the Lord in surprise that their newly delegated power to heal sickness had failed them, Jesus said, "This kind comes forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting." By prayer which is a discipline of the spirit, and by fasting which is a discipline of the body. There are some battles with Satan that require the whole man, body and spirit — despite the fact that the battle is a spiritual one.

     Man has a brain that is clearly a kind of computer. This is what man HAS, but it is not what man IS. Man is truly a spiritual creature but he is an incarnate, embodied creature, unique among all other creatures because of the uniqueness of the origin and destiny of both his body and his spirit.
     It is remarkable that a man of Eccles' stature and experience who nevertheless does not share our Christian convictions, should arrive at this same conclusion, and in doing so should reject the evolutionary origin of the soul. He did so in spite of the fact that his co-author, Karl Popper, accepted it without equivocation.
     In another of his recent works, Facing Reality, Eccles observes that statements about "the progressive emergence of conscious mind during evolution are not supported by

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any scientific evidence, but are merely statements made within the framework of a faith that evolutionary
theory, as it now is, will at least in principle explain fully the origin and development of all living forms including our selves."
      This "faith" is being steadily eroded by experimental evidence. There IS a ghost in the machine.

88. Eccles, Sir John, Facing Reality, New York, Springer-Verlag, 1975, p.91.

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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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