Let us examine closely what thought is, and let us try to decipher what it is that causes thoughts to arise in our minds.
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.
An 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 awareness quite spontaneously (try it!). 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 body. I might start thinking about going out 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 enter my mind while I am out taking a walk? Why, when asked to name any city in the world, do I choose Prague 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 to explain why thoughts arise. I think there are only two possible explanations; 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 is God.
Creative thought is an obvious example of how thoughts are not determined by prior events. It would be absurd if the thoughts that a composer thinks while writing a piece of music could be explained by evolution, or some kind of ‘Big Bang’ event, or childhood experiences. Seeing our present moment thoughts as the result of the 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. That power is God.
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 how we walk, and we think without knowing how we think. The reason why all these things happen spontaneously is because God is doing them.
The fact that God is controlling our thoughts has very important implications for both philosophy and science. The philosophy of mind, for instance, is useless if it neglects God. Neuroscientists and other scientists have for many years been examining the human brain in order to try to understand thought. Their investigations are largely misguided, because thought neither originates, nor finds expression, in the brain. It is people who think, rather than brains, and they do so by the power of God.
The above article is a modified extract from my book Ultimate Truth: God Beyond Religion. For more info or to buy the book, click here. If you enjoyed this post please consider sharing it, and/or subscribing to this blog. Thank you for reading!