The Structure of the Human MindThe human mind has a structure that parallels the scientific method. At the bottom level is observing, which requires being attentive. At the level of inquiry, humans try to understand why things happen and the relationship between things. The level of inquiry requires being intelligent. At the level of reflective judgement, humans marshal the evidence supporting a particular theory or insight and decide whether the theory is true. This level requires being rational. The next level, which has no parallel to the scientific method, is deciding what to do with our bodies. This level requires being responsible.
Why Human Beings Are Embodied Spirits
Humans have a drive to know and understand everything. They ask questions, not only about things they see and hear, but about observing, understanding, knowing, and doing itself. For example, we can move our limbs around any way we want. But if we lose a limb we still continue to exist. This raises the question: What is the relationship between ourselves and our bodies? What are images and other mental constructs? Observing that this page is white and black means more than that light is entering our eyes and a signal is going to our brains. It means an awareness of this. What is this awareness?
We can comprehend these functions because we have them, but we can't define or explicate them. Hence, humans are indefinabilites that become conscious of their own existence. In other words, humans are embodied spirits or spirited bodies.
Proposition #1: I exist. I am a real being, not a mental construct.
Proposition #2: I am not many beings, I am one being. 1
Proposition #3: Every real being must have the sufficient reason (grounding its intelligibility) either in itself or in some other real being.2
Proposition #4: Either a being's sufficient reason is in the being itself or it is in some other being.
Proposition #5: If a being's sufficient reason is in some other being, the being is contingent.
Proposition #6: If a being's sufficient reason is in the being itself, the being is self-sufficient.
Proposition #7: Every contingent being has a cause.3
Proposition #8: There exists at least one self-sufficient being in the universe.4
Proposition #9: A being which begins to exist at some point in time is a contingent being.
Proposition #10: A being which is a composition of other beings is a contingent being.
Proposition #11: A being which is finite is a contingent being.5
Proposition #12: A self-sufficient being is supernatural because it is a being that always existed, is not finite, and is not a composition of other beings. QED.
Proposition #13: In the Western religions, the infinite being is known as God or Yahweh (Exodus 3.14)6
No. 1: A property of a real being is its ontological unity. A stamp collection, for example, is not unified and exists only in the minds of a stamp collector.The rationality of human beings—free will and conscious knowledge—means that human beings possess a center of action. A human being is not a collection of beings, but a single unified being.
No. 2: This is called the principle of sufficient reason or the principle of the intelligibility of being. I am quoting from a textbook on metaphysics (W. Norris Clark, The One and the Many). The principle is rooted in our desire and drive to know things. It is also rooted in the assumption that the universe makes sense and everything has an explanation. This is why we rely of the results of experiments in science and why we look for misplaced keys and wallets.
No. 3: This is the principle of causality. Notice that it does not say: Every being has a cause. David Hume mistakenly thought this was the principle of causality and started the fallacious refutation: Who made God? Notice, too, that cause and effect occur simultaneously. Cause precedes the effect in the order of causality, not the order of time. The concepts of being, reason, and causality are fundamental and can't be fully explicated as can the concepts of science.
No. 4: It is possible to have a finite chain of contingent beings: A is caused by B, B is caused by C, C is caused by D, etc. However, there must exist a self-sufficient being outside of the chain giving the chain existence. By induction, an infinite chain is also possible with the same proviso. However, an infinite chain creates a paradox in the order of discovery: You discover A, then you discover B, then you discover C, etc. , and you never find the beginning of the chain. However, the order of causality goes in the opposite direct: B must exist before A, C must exist before B, and so on.
No. 5: Human beings are finite beings because I exist and you exist, but I am not you and you are not me. In other words, our being is limited to ourselves. A finite being can't be the reason for its own existence because it can't exist except as finite. A finite being can't limit itself, just as a being which begins to exist at some point in time can't be the cause of its own existence.
No. 6: A finite being is a metaphysical composition of two correlative principles: essence and existence. An infinite being is a pure act of existence. Yahweh is translated in the English versions of the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) as "I am who am," which could mean God is telling mankind He is a pure act of existence.