Sure TK. Honestly, it's something we are all "too dumb" to understand. Nobody "understands" it but that's why I think it's so compelling. In fact, for me, this topic is what renewed my faith nearly 10 years ago and continues to do so daily.
Here's a quick 12 minute overview
by Dr. J.P. Moreland regarding this.
One of Hank Hannegraaf's research consultants referred me to Dr. Morelands work years ago.
Essentially, he points out and explains that regardless of where our physical bodies came from or what that process may have looked like, no naturalistic explanation of life's physical origins can account for consciousness of the self.
Naturalism attempts to define humans as very sophisticated machines comprised of trillions of nano-machines that operate in conjunction with each other at a molecular level. Molecular machines, if you will. Our brains being the machine most reponsible for distinguishing man's capabilities from those of the animals. And in general, people have accepted that. Our complexity is what gives rise to our intelligence. That's what appears to make man capable of reasoning and thinking in ways that animals cannot. I don't see any harm necessarily in holding such a view except for the fact that too many people buy into the idea that intelligence is the ONLY differentiating factor of consequence between us and the animals. If intelligence is explainable in purely naturalistic terms what need is there for God in this whole existence?
While I think origins is an interesting topic, unfortunately the role intelligence
played in our creation and dominion of the earth is assumed to be and often presented as the topic that matters most. I don't know that pursuing this tract is necessarily giving us the biggest bang for our Kingdom bucks.
The other topic in the origins debate that is virtually ignored is the origin of conscienceness. People often assume consciousness and intelligence are the same. Science seems quite content to allow this belief to pesist. However, they are not the same and I think it's critically important for people to be aware of this. The centrality of intelligence to the origins debate is a red herring too many are all too eager to get caught up in pursuing. However, the origin of consciousness, not intelligence is the real nail in the coffin of phylisophical naturalism.
Natural material processes can at least conceivably account for intelligence. Consioussness, being aware, or being able to perceive is a much different story. Our brains are not our minds, our souls or our spirits.
They can't be. Here's my attempt to explain in simple terms one simple reason why consciousness cannot be explained in terms of the physical.
Just to paint an initial picture here, if intelligence of an organism implied conscienceness, this suggests that at some point, as civilization's techology advances, we may be able to create Artificial Intelligence that surpasses our own. When, and if that ever happens, at what point can we say that the Artificial Intelligence has become aware or conscious? Can it ever? If it can't, is consciousness really related to complexity in the way intelligence seems to be?
Further, for all our complex anatomy and the complex chemical, electrical, and mechanical bustle going on in our bodies, in the end, all these systems are basically just collecting energy from outside of themselves, passing it around internally for a while, converting it from one form into another until at some point, the energy finally leaves them and eventually our bodies as a form of heat.
The question for naturalism is, at what point during any of that does that energy get perceived? What part of us is responsible for making us aware of it?
Most would say somewhere in our brains. But if so, can we pinpoint where exactly? Is it in a gland? A cell? A molecule? A proton? An electron? The fact is nobody knows. But, assuming it is any of those things, they are all less complex than our complete self. Supposedly though, our complexity is what gave rise of our consciousness, at least according to popular belief.
Whatever that supposed "somewhere" is, it itself just passes the energy it receives on to some other "something" and on and on until the energy just leaves our body as radiation. For reasons like this, conscienceness and perception are an enigma to naturalistic explanations of the universe.
Here's why I think this so powerful though. While noone can explain it, we can regularly and repeatedly confirm that this perception of things is really taking place, in some form or another (whether the form we experience corresponds to the absolute reality or not is a question Epistemology attempts to explain, and a different topic all together). Although neither I nor anyone has physical access to that part of who I am, I know it's there. It's the most readily provable supernatural phenomenon in our individual existences. It's that ellusive part of who we each are that we are refering to when we speak about our spirit and our minds.
So while this idea doesn't address where we physically came from, every time debates get stirred up about the origin of life and whether alien life might exist, I'm reminded of the Architect's words to Neo in the epistemically themed move The Matrix Reloaded
Concordantly, while your first question may be the most pertinent, you may or may not realize, it is also the most irrelevant.
I wonder if our Architect would say the same about our interests.
Education about the nature of consciousness and it's supernatural origin seems to me to be the most accessible, simplest and most dramatic way of bringing the population as a whole to the realization that the supernatural must exist and it had to have had a supernatural origin. No matter what our physical origins are or if other intelligent life exists besides ourselves, it still poses no threat at all to the evidence for a supernatural conscious Creator. We are all experiencing the very essense of this in a very vivid, verifiable and yet inexplicable way every second of every day. Most don't even realize this. If such a realization could be made en masse, I think the conviction to persevere in the faith and testimonies for Christ would be incredibly effective. It has been for me.