Created to Praise God’s Name
Self-Awareness and the Brain
Every man and woman who lives on this earth has a name. It gives them their identity. It is estimated by UNICEF that an average of 350,000 babies are born each day, each in need of a name. In most cases, they are given a name by their loving parents who seek the best for their sons and daughters. This is a distinctly human process, demonstrating man’s self-awareness apart from any other creature on earth.
Animals have ways of recognizing each other through their God-given senses, but bestowing names on one another is purely a human practice. Dogs, cats and all other domestic animals often possess names from a solely human need to give them their own identity. The right to name our children, pets, or any other creature gives us a sense of ownership, and that is ascribed only to mankind. An ability to name other creatures is a measure of self-awareness. Evolutionists have attempted to explain this phenomenon using the theory that self-awareness had its origins when hominids began to work together, but they have failed miserably to produce the objective data needed to advance this hypothesis.
Where does this ability originate? Scientists define consciousness as being aware of one’s body and environment, while self-consciousness is so much different. It is a complete recognition of your “self” as in your own existence. You need to be aware that you are thinking and realize your own thoughts. It is obvious by doing this that you have gone into a much higher level of awareness. At this level, you can ask fundamental questions dealing with identity, purpose, and value. This is a unique quality that human beings possess, and it is so different that it should make us ponder the origin of this remarkable human ability.
Secular evolutionists have been attempting to answer this question by pointing to the brain. It is true that the human brain is different than any other animal brain on this planet. The typical human brain weighs between 3 to 4 pounds with each one containing a staggering number of 100 billion neurons (nerve cells). This makes it the most complex network that has ever been discovered.
The brain operates as a video camera, a computer, and a communication center all in one. Amazingly, it’s not the number of interconnections, but how the brain organizes itself with its neurons that creates individual areas to accomplish specific tasks. Special features in the structure of the human brain demonstrate extraordinary specialization in the left and right hemispheres. They are involved in manual dexterity, language, problem solving, and a host of other functions. Human language is a highly complex process that makes it stand alone when compared with other forms of animal communication.
Human brains have the capacity to process spoken language. Not only can we produce language, but we are also able to learn entirely new languages throughout our lifetime. This is demonstrated by the designated sections in the human brain dedicated to the interpretation of language as well as other areas designated to produce speech. When compared to body size, one of the most obvious distinctions in the human brain is our relatively large, wrinkly cerebral cortex.
The cerebral cortex is made of gray sponge-like material that would be equivalent to the size of a 20 by 20-foot table cloth squished, folded and compressed around a grapefruit-sized surface, making it extremely convoluted. This would increase the surface area in the cortex or outer layer of the brain exponentially. About one-third is visible, while the other two-thirds of the material is found underneath the hills and valleys of the folds of the cerebral cortex.
When one observes the human brain’s frontal lobe and compares it to other animals’, the human’s stands out as being the largest. Frontal lobes are essential because they are involved in motor function, problem solving, memory, impulse control, mood and aggression. The ratio of the frontal cortex compared to the entire cerebral cortex is very small in rodents, rats and mice, however in cats and dogs, it is only at 3.5% and 7% respectively.
The ratio in apes is 17%, while in humans we are ranked way ahead at 29%, giving us the highest ratio. The ability to learn, which varies from individual to individual, depends on the cerebral cortex. This part of the brain provides a tremendous amount of space for information storage. We humans need this space to process all the information that comes to us via our senses.
The ability to use language, which includes not only vocabulary but also mastering grammatical structures, has to be stored in the vast network of the cerebral cortex. Visual images are also stored so that they can be identified. When interfaced with language, this becomes a truly unique feature. Memories are retrieved clearly, and the ability to imagine and fantasize are also truly human abilities. It gives man the capacity to solve problems and be creative. This is all part of our human identity with self-awareness built into this magnificent structure. In the words of the outspoken atheist and prolific science fiction writer, Isaac Asimov (1920-1992), “In man is a three-pound brain, which as far as we know, is the most complex and orderly arrangement of matter in the universe.”
The Genesis of Self-Awareness
Naming your loved ones and even your pets has its origins in Genesis, the first book in the Bible. It gives us an historical profile of everything we observe noting, “This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created …” (Gen. 2:4) In Genesis 2, the focus is on the history of “they,” meaning Adam and Eve. They were the first man and woman on earth and the first parents of the entire human race. In Genesis 1:27, it establishes that they were created in the “image of God” on the sixth day of creation. Man would be given a unique position in all of creation. He would have a loving relationship with the magnificent, almighty Creator of the universe. God sent His only begotten Son to die for us. A holy Creator would Himself accomplish our redemption and bestow upon those who place their faith in Him eternal life.
Man’s self-awareness originates in being created in the image of the One who loves him and desires to have fellowship with him for eternity. The gospel is truly good news for those who are sinners by nature. This same gospel uses our self-awareness and the fact that we are sinners and need the Savior. By God’s grace, we are given the gift of repentance where we can acknowledge our sins and cry out to God for deliverance from the bondage sin causes. And by this same grace, we are given the gift of saving faith, whereby we can trust in God and receive His forgiveness and everlasting life in Christ.
Man has been put in a special place in all of creation. He is given a position that is “crowned with honor and glory” as it states in Psalm 8:5. Man’s identity is based on the ability to have fellowship with God. He has created mankind “to have dominion over the works of His hands.” (Ps. 8:6) He has given man a special ability with intellectual awareness to become a good steward of His creation. Man has been gifted with the capacity to take ownership over the creatures that roam the earth. This includes the honor of giving names to all of the animals. (Gen. 2:20)
We also witness a wonderful moment in the history of Genesis when Adam is given a companion and a helpmate. This would complete God’s plan for the family. In the formation of the first woman, God would use part of Adam, possibly his rib, to make her like him. Adam’s jubilance is evident as he woke up from a deep sleep and named his helpmate “woman” in Genesis 2:23. This must have been an exhilarating experience as for the first time he met his perfect mate. This name, “woman”, would complement Adam’s name. In the next verse, Genesis 2:24, the institution of marriage is established as it is written, “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” The first woman of mankind would be called “Eve” by Adam. (Gen. 3:20) This name means “mother of all life.” Eve would be the mother of the human race. In the married union of two individuals, we observe another result of man’s self-awareness and consciousness. This union has the capacity to form a deep and lasting relationship that can only be identified with human beings. The apostle Paul addresses this kind of relationship in Ephesians 5:22-23. He tells us that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. This is God’s agape love — an unconditional, sacrificial love. Wives will love their husbands with God’s love as the church is to revere and love the Messiah. Man has the ability to love one another deeply as God loves him. Most importantly, man is instructed to love God “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Deut. 6:5) Those who do not love do not know God. “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (I John 4:8)
As humans, we have been designed to worship God by using His name as revealed in Psalm 8:1, “O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth” . King David praises God as the Creator of the universe, identifying him by His covenantal name, LORD (YHVH from Ex. 3:14). This psalm addresses God’s majesty and His sublime nature. It is perfectly natural for man to praise God, but for those who are blinded and in darkness, it is foolishness. Those who live in the light have the self-awareness that there is a need in man’s nature to revere God’s name.
Actually, we are instructed in the third commandment, “‘You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.’” (Deu. 5:11) If you translate this verse in Hebrew, it clearly means “you shall not lift up the name of God to emptiness, worthlessness, or vanity.” Every human being carries a brain that is specially designed to be aware of his or her Creator and to worship Him. King David confirms man’s purpose when he closed Psalm 8 with the same verse with which he began it, “O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth.”
Is Genesis History?
In Genesis 1 and 2, we learn who we are, what our purpose is, and how valuable we are. We learn about the divine connection when we read that God took the dust of earth, formed man, and breathed life into him. (Gen. 2:7) He singled us out of everything that He made and gave us His “life.” The history told in the Genesis narrative bestows on us unbelievable value filled with new hope.
There is another competing narrative that tells man about his origins, but this story negates the value originally given to Adam and Eve and leaves us hopeless. The secular worldview that is universally taught to most of the children in the western world states that we came from some unknown physical material and that we were assembled by a random process via an unknown mechanism. Additionally, the long-standing mechanisms used to explain Darwin’s Theory, natural selection, and beneficial mutation have not withstood the test of time.