Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Is Consciousness an Illusion? Daniel Dennett said consciousness is an illusion
Daniel Dennett III (1942-2024)

Is consciousness an illusion, or is it real? Philosopher Rene Descartes insisted that consciousness was the only undeniable fact of our existence. He is known for the phrase, “I think, therefore, I am” (cogito, ergo sum). Daniel Dennett was an analytic philosopher who, until his death on April 19, 2024, spent his career suggesting that consciousness is an illusion. He also insisted that God is an illusion, and, in agreement with Richard Dawkins, design in nature is an illusion.

Daniel Dennett was also closely associated with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens as the “Four Horsemen of the New Atheism.” They all wrote best-selling books challenging the existence of God. Dennett was a vocal atheist, a Committee for Skeptical Inquiry member, and served on the advisory board of the Secular Coalition for America. He was also awarded the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s board of distinguished achievers.

Dennett believed that evolution by natural selection and adaptation accounts for every aspect of life, including morality. In his book Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, he attempted to give a naturalistic explanation for religious belief. Is consciousness an illusion? According to Dennett, the answer is “yes.” If you have trouble accepting that concept, Dennett’s 1991 book Consciousness Explained attempted to explain it. His 2017 book From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds expands on Dennett’s concept of “competence without comprehension.”

According to Dennett, the Darwinian theory accounts for all aspects of our existence. No intelligent designer is needed because evolution explains everything. The “Four Horsemen of the New Atheism” alludes to the four horsemen of the apocalypse described in Revelation chapter 6. Those horsemen represent conquest, warfare, famine, and death, bringing judgment on the people of Earth. The four horsemen of atheism are now down to two since the death of Hitchens and now Dennett, but I am sure others will take their place.

What we need today are champions for God who will take the message of God’s love and redemption and peace and hope in Jesus Christ. If consciousness is an illusion, everything is meaningless, but if consciousness is reality, everything changes. Our lives have meaning, purpose, and value because God created and loves us.

— Roland Earnst © 2024

Losing Hope in the Future

Losing Hope in the Future

One serious problem facing our society today is a lack of hope. Polls show that most Americans think the country’s best days are behind us. When asked if the country is going in the right or wrong direction, the vast majority say it is going in the wrong direction. Losing hope creates a downward spiral that only gets worse.

Losing hope is a serious problem for society. Hope is what you have when you are looking forward to something better. It involves waiting in anticipation of a better day. When people lose hope, they fear what tomorrow might bring and become discouraged. They may even become angry and vent their frustration on others or themselves. We see that especially among young people, and most of all in girls.

When young people are being taught that they are mere accidents of evolution and their life has no ultimate meaning, it’s not surprising that they are losing hope. When they see no purpose in life and no hope for a better future, we should not be surprised to see them take out their anger on society.

What a difference it can make in the lives of young people if they have the reassurance that they are loved and their lives have purpose and meaning. However, adults can’t give hope to young people if they don’t have it themselves. That is something that Christianity can give. A Christian can look forward to a better day regardless of present circumstances. We know that God is in control and that He loves us, as Jesus taught and demonstrated.

The late Christopher Hitchens would say that “religion poisons everything.” In some ways, that is true. The religion of Darwinian materialistic evolution has been poisoning our young people and destroying their hope, but Jesus restores hope. He said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

The Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew chapters 5-7 is the most excellent discourse on how to live a life of love and hope. If you are losing hope, read those chapters and put the words of Jesus into practice. I guarantee that it will change your life for the better.

— Roland Earnst © 2023

Christianity and Violence

Christianity and Violence
If you watch program #7 in our video series, you will see a number of quotes by well-known atheists indicating why they reject the existence of God. One of the recurring statements is the claim that religion and religious warfare threaten to destroy all of humanity. They claim that religion is evil. They even equate Christianity and violence. The late Christopher Hitchens wrote a book with the subtitle How Religion Poisons Everything in which he blamed religions for violence and warfare, and he made no distinction for Christianity.

There is no question that war and violence have plagued the human race since the time of Adam, and many times religion has been at least a catalyst to the violence if not the cause of it. Unfortunately, there is much in the history of religion to connect it with violence. Atheists claim that a million people were murdered by the Catholic Church in the Crusades and the Inquisition.

The New Testament makes it clear that the followers of Jesus should be peacemakers. Matthew 5:25-48 and Romans 12:9-21 show that Jesus opposed war and violence. Passages like Ephesians 3:10-12 and 6:12 tell us that our real battle is spiritual warfare.

Would getting rid of religion eliminate violence? If somehow we could eliminate every religion, would we see peace and love and goodwill everywhere? John Lennon’s famous song Imagine had the line: “Imagine there’s no heaven, no hell below us… nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too.” The song suggested that getting rid of religion would bring peace and harmony on Earth.

The truth is that the most violent and war-like leaders in history had no religious beliefs at all. Hitler murdered 190 million people. Stalin and Mao killed even more. Unbelief seems to be more dangerous than even the most violent of organized religions.

War has many causes, but political and economic power—not religion–are at the core of most wars. Christianity should never be the cause of war or violence. Christians may be involved as citizens according to the dictates of Romans 13, but you can’t read Matthew 5 and Romans 12 and attempt to equate Christianity and violence.
–John N. Clayton © 2017