Mar 7, 2008

The Ghost in the Machine

By Hal Lindsey

A team of American scientists has invented a machine that they say is capable of reading the human mind.

Well, maybe "mind" reading isn't exactly the right word; it is more a case of reading the brain. The human "mind" has been described as the "ghost in the machine" – it has no weight or substance, cannot be excised or implanted, but it exists within the human brain, somehow.

And "how" is what the scientist team is hoping to figure out. The machine uses Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI, to measure brain activity by monitoring changes in blood flow to different regions of the brain.

A test subject is hooked up to the machine and shown a series of images over a five-hour period while the MRI "maps" patterns that tell it how that person's brain decodes the information.

The next step involves using the decoder to predict the brain activity of the test subject when exposed to a new series of images. The system then matched their observed brain activity when they watched the new images to what the decoder predicted would be the reaction.

When using a set of 120 images, the software got it right nine out of 10 times. With 1,000 images, the accuracy was eight out of 10, which is way beyond the possibility of random chance.

For 120 images, if the software were to simply make random predictions, its success rate falls from 8 percent to under 1 percent. One of the scientists involved with the project predicts they may one day be able to apply the technology to reconstruct visual memories or dreams.

The technology may one day be used to help witnesses reconstruct details of an event by picking it out of their brain, or even as an aid to interrogation. Imagine being able to hook up an al-Qaida terrorist and read his brain like a laptop hard drive.

Of course, this also raises all kinds of ethical problems. If we perfect the technology for "reading" a brain, the next step is to improve on the hardware. It doesn't seem like too much of a stretch to envision equipment that can target someones brain like an antenna and then transmit it like a TV signal.

A hundred years ago, Marconi discovered a way to read radio waves.

Today (if I wanted to), I could watch TV – on my cell phone.

For those searching for a reason to deny the existence of a Creator-God, the ability to scan a human "brain" is evidence that the mind is just a collection of electrical impulses translated into thought by a complex series of highly evolved neural receptors.

After all, they reason, if we can decode it, then it must be natural, rather than supernatural. That is a "chicken or the egg" argument. It was the human mind that was able to conceive of a machine that could read itself. And at best, it can only approximate thought by complicated guesswork. (Of course, then, there is the whole concept of "thought" remaining to be addressed.)

Granting the evolutionist's "random-chance-plus-unlimited-time-can produce-anything-theory," we are now asked to believe that this "scientific breakthrough" proves there is no need for a Creator-God.

Why? Because after billions of years of evolution, man has designed a machine that can almost approximate what a baby is capable of doing while still in the womb.

Wow! Talk about a leap of faith. The evolutionist has more faith than I do.

If anything, this is undeniable evidence of a Designer Who programmed the baby who grew up to design a machine that can almost approximate what he could do while he was still in the womb.

But at best, it is a collection of wires and sensors and cameras and gizmos that only highlight the fact that each of us is a complex creation, operated by what they call a "ghost in the machine" that man can never duplicate.

As for me, all this latest "breakthrough" really accomplishes is to prove what the Bible Psalmist already knew three thousand years ago:

"For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.

"The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.'" (Psalms 139:13-14; 14:1)