Is the Human Mind Like Computer Software?

by Bill Pratt

The question of the origin of human rationality plagues the atheistic naturalist worldview – the worldview that says that all that exists ultimately is matter governed by the laws of physics.  If every event that has ever occurred and ever will occur is determined by physical laws, then how are humans able to make decisions that are free from that determinism?

Rationality is mere illusion under naturalism, as everything we say and think is the result of antecedent physical conditions and physical laws.  We can’t help what we say and think, because all our thoughts and words are the result of physical processes that we have no control over.  Judging a person’s beliefs would be like blaming a leaf for falling to the ground.

On a recent Unbelievable? podcast, atheist Norman Bacrac posited the following solution to the problem.  He claimed that the human brain represents the hardware that obeys the physical laws of nature.  But running on this

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hardware is the software of the rational mind, software which evolved out of the hardware of human anatomy.  According to Bacrac, even though the hardware is determined by natural laws, the software is not.  Software represents the thoughts and arguments made by humans when they are reasoning.

Does this software proposal really help?  I don’t think so.  Consider what hardware and software mean in the computer world.  Hardware consists in physical electronic circuits.  Software performs the function of the program it implements by directly providing instructions to the computer hardware.  Software is non-physical information.  It can be instantiated into a physical medium, but the medium is not the software – it merely contains the software…

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