Have you ever wondered what is causing your thoughts? In this blog post, I aim to solve this problem.
As mysterious as thought is, it is clear that when we think, there is a movement within consciousness that we are aware of. An impression in the mind seems to arise out of nothing. That impression might be a word or a sentence, or an image, or something more obscure.
The interesting point to note about thought is that it appears to be spontaneous. If you are asked to think of a fruit, for instance, then one fruit rather than another will pop into your head quite spontaneously. You might think “apple” or “watermelon” without having any particular reason for thinking of the fruit you chose. It is not necessary for you to have had an apple for breakfast, or have seen a watermelon in your local store earlier that day, for you to think of those particular fruits.
It seems that we never know what our next thought will be. If I asked you to tell me what you will be thinking about in a minute’s time, or in an hour’s time, you will have no idea. We do not plan our thoughts, they arise spontaneously.
One argument for this might be that our thoughts are always linked to our needs, drives, and desires. Therefore I might start thinking about lunch because a feeling of hunger has arisen in my stomach. I might start thinking about going to a club because of a sexual urge. And in a more complex way, I might think I need to do some study because I want to achieve good grades, which will get me a good job, which will secure me a steady income, so I don’t have to worry about food and shelter in the future.
But the above explanations, which link thoughts to desires, fail to explain the often random nature of thought. Why does the theme tune to a TV show I haven’t seen for years suddenly pop into my head while I am out taking a walk? Why, when asked to name any city in the world, do I choose Berlin rather than Moscow?
It doesn’t seem that we can argue that we are in control of our thoughts, so we must look for other reasons why our thoughts are arising. I think that there are only two options; either our thoughts must be determined by prior events, or they are being brought into existence by a power operating in the present moment, which I will call God.
It is difficult to imagine how a historical cause and effect process could explain why in a moment I suddenly start to recall a particular Mozart piano concerto. What possible causes could there be for this? How do we explain the fact that I might suddenly remember my friend’s birthday, whilst eating dinner and discussing a completely unrelated subject? It is clearly possible to have these kinds of thoughts, without any obvious trigger from the past. It would be absurd if the thoughts that a composer thinks when writing a piece of music could be explained by evolution or childhood experiences. Seeing our present moment thoughts as the result of our past simply doesn’t make sense.
The random, unpredictable and spontaneous nature of thought means that there is only one feasible explanation for why thoughts arise. There must be a power that is in control in the present moment, bringing our thoughts into and out of existence.
Of course, it is not just thoughts that happen spontaneously. If we observe the unfolding of events within our consciousness, we can see that everything is happening spontaneously. Our hearts are beating spontaneously, our hair is growing spontaneously, we walk along without thinking about how we walk, and we think without knowing how we think. The reason that all these things happen spontaneously is because God is doing them.
This article is a modified extract from my book entitled ‘Ultimate Truth: God Beyond Religion’. You can find out more or buy the book here.