Scott D. G. Ventureyra

On the Origin of Consciousness

On the Origin of Consciousness

Scott D. G. Ventureyra

An Exploration through the Lens of the Christian Conception of God and Creation

Have you ever thought about how self-consciousness (self-awareness) originated in the universe? Understanding consciousness is one of the toughest “nuts to crack.” In recent years, scientists and philosophers have attempted to provide an answer to this mystery. The reason for this is simply because it cannot be confined to solely a materialistic interpretation of the world. Some scientific materialists have suggested that consciousness is merely an illusion in order to insulate their worldviews.

Yet, consciousness is the most fundamental thing we know, even more so than the external world since we require it to perceive or think about anything. Without it, reasoning would be impossible. Dr. Scott Ventureyra, in this ground-breaking book,
explores the idea of the Christian God and Creation in order to tackle this most
difficult question. He demonstrates that theology has something significant to offer
in reflection of how consciousness originated in the universe. He also makes a modest claim that the Christian conception of God and Creation provide a plausible account for the origin of self-consciousness. He integrates philosophy, theology, and science in an innovative way to embark on this exploration.


“With the revival of natural theology in the last few decades, there has been an outbreak of fresh, rigorous arguments for God’s existence. In turn, this has raised afresh new issues about the relationship between Christian philosophy and theology with science. Interestingly, little attention has been given to questions about the origin of consciousness, especially self-awareness. But that is no longer the case. In On the Origin of Consciousness, Dr. Ventureyra has produced a stunning book, based on wide and careful research, that brings the resources of a philosophically informed theology to bear on showing that such a theology explains the origin of consciousness better than do the natural sciences. Along the way, Ventureyra treats us to a rich study in metaphysics, systematic and natural theology, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of science. I am enthusiastic about this book and highly recommend it.”

— JP Moreland, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University

“Dr. Ventureyra’s book, On the Origin of Consciousness, is surely the most complete and most thoroughly researched treatment of the subject from a theological standpoint. Readers may not agree with all of the author’s conclusions, but they will be deeply impressed with the comprehensiveness of his discussions of this very difficult philosophical-theological question. There is no doubt that a study of On the Origin of Consciousness will stimulate further intellectual labour on a subject of critical importance.”

— John Warwick Montgomery, University of Bedfordshire

“Consciousness can become less mysterious when we see our universe as created by God. Scott Ventureyra helps to prove it by this very wide-ranging and interesting book.”

— John Leslie, University of Guelph

“Sometimes you read a book where you disagree with just about everything the author claims—starting with the dedication! And yet . . . You learn and you rethink. I feel exactly that way about Scott Ventureyra’s On the Origin of Consciousness. I intend that as high praise.”

— Michael Ruse, Florida State University

“On the Origin of Consciousness presents a Christian theological understanding of consciousness. In developing his argument, Scott Ventureyra provides a comprehensive overview of different models for the interaction between faith and science, and he describes the role philosophy plays in guiding the integration. What makes the book unique is his insightful interactions with the work of such intelligent design researchers as Bill Dembski and myself. He identifies the concept of information as not only central in the discussion of the origin and development of life but also in understanding consciousness’ origin and operation. Ventureyra’s approach is both compelling and practical. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in how theology can help guide scientific research on consciousness and in the topic in general.”

— Stephen C. Meyer, best-selling author of Darwin’s Doubt

“Ventureyra’s On the Origin of Consciousness is not only a very good read; it provides a fertile primer for grasping the metaphysical significance of consciousness. But it is the careful examination of the origins of consciousness through the prism of contemporary scientific, philosophical and theological contexts that gives this enquiry resonance. Ventureyra offers readers in philosophical theology, epistemology of theology, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of science a model study of how to think about the origins of consciousness—conscientiously.”

— Robert M. Berchman, Director General and Academic Fellow, Foro di Studi Avanzati, Gaetano Massa, Roma

“A refreshingly robust defence of the contributions of theology and scripture to understanding consciousness that also deftly handles scientific and philosophical aspects. The clear position developed and the trajectories for future research that are traced will be important for the future theology and science debate.”

— David Grumett, University of Edinburgh

“Scott Ventureyra’s compelling book applies my interactive method for relating theology and science (CMI) to the problem of consciousness. In doing so, Ventureyra creatively describes contributions theology might make to the scientific understanding of the origin and emergence of consciousness in nature. I am very pleased to recommend this book to both technical and general readers in theology and science.”

— Robert John Russell, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California

“As remarkable as science’s progress has been, it has been completely stumped trying to explain its own foundation—the existence of conscious, rational agents like ourselves. In On the Origin of Consciousness Scott Ventureyra explores how theology and philosophy may be able to rescue science from its doldrums.”

— Michael J. Behe, author of Darwin’s Black Box

“Dr. Ventureyra’s On the Origin of Consciousness provides an excellent analysis of the interactions between theology and science. It gives a clear explanation of the different creation-evolution models. It also outlines some of the promising modern theories of consciousness. The most intriguing aspect of Ventureyra’s book is his proposal of God’s action through the connection between information and consciousness, something which can open new lines of research in the theology and science dialogue.”

— Miguel A. Rodriguez, former Biochemistry Teaching Labs Coordinator at the University of Ottawa, Canada

“In On the Origin of Consciousness, Ventureyra offers a critique of naturalistic explanations for the emergence of mind. Yet he also offers a positive account for how theology can contribute to the quest for a satisfactory account. This book is well-researched, insightful, and an exemplary model for how to integrate scientific, philosophical, and theological questions.”

— Sean McDowell, author of The Fate of the Apostles

“The twofold strength of this exceptionally well-argued volume resides in its rational commitment to Christian Theism while allowing a rich variety of sub-positions to serve as potential paths for reaching the ultimate goal of explaining human consciousness. Though all trails cannot be ultimately or equally successful, Ventureyra argues persuasively for a carefully-delineated cadre of options from which to achieve the final goal. The result poses a profound and growing amalgam of insurmountable problems for Naturalism.”

— Gary R. Habermas, Liberty University

“Wanting to specify God’s role in the origin of consciousness, Dr. Ventureyra painstakingly presents a critical overview of theories in neuroscience, philosophy, and especially different entangled theologies. A useful categorization of the theories, although overlapping, is a major contribution; but the field remains ever a jungle. Nonetheless, this lay of the land might serve as a welcome provocative prelude to other takes on the matter.”

— Daniel A. Helminiak, University of West Georgia, author of Brain, Consciousness, and God: A Lonerganian Integration

“Scott Ventureyra has tackled one of the most challenging issues in the field of science and theology: how to account theologically and scientifically for the origins of consciousness. In a wide-ranging and thoroughly-researched book, he develops a distinctive and sometimes provocative account, which will offer both stimulation and challenge to anyone with an interest in these questions.”

— Neil Messer, University of Winchester

“Scott Ventureyra’s On the Origin of Consciousness is a brave and illuminating book that could easily serve as an advanced primer on the topic. The book starts from the obvious but no less striking premise that unlike physics, biology, and even psychology, consciousness is not a surprising phenomenon to theology. In fact, theologians expect consciousness, understood as the existential basis for humanity’s relationship to God. This suggests that theologians should be central to the emerging interdisciplinary study of consciousness. Ventureyra makes good on this proposal by showing the mutual bearing that theological and scientific arguments have on each other. While himself a traditional Christian, he is mindful not to overstate the probative character of theological arguments. Here Ventureyra updates the appeal to philosophy as an honest broker between the claims of science and theology that had been instrumental in legitimizing of the Scientific Revolution in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. An especially welcome feature of this book is the extended, sympathetic, yet also critical treatment of the work of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.”

— Steve Fuller, University of Warwick, Author of Dissent over Descent

“Scott Ventureyra’s On the Origin of Consciousness is a rich, albeit somewhat eclectic, work. Although there are many points at which I disagree—Scott takes the emergentism of Teilhard de Chardin and Philip Clayton much more seriously than I think is warranted—I found the book a rewarding read.”

— Robert Larmer, University of New Brunswick

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    Book Reviews

    Jonathan Bartlett, “The Why, Not the How, of the Origin of Consciousness,” Mind Matters June 13, 2019.
    Aku Visala, “Theology and the Science of Consciousness,” Sapientia (August 20, 2020).
    Robert M. Berchman, Critical Review: “Of Clocks, Clouds & Sparrows,” Science et Esprit 71:2 (2019), 261-271

    — Robert Doede, “Review of ON THE ORIGIN OF CONSCIOUSNESS: An Exploration
    through the Lens of the Christian Conception of God and Creation,” Perspective of
    Science and Christian Faith 72:3 (September 2020): 183-185.

    Carl Thomas, “Review of On the Origin of Consciousness: An Exploration through the Lens of the Christian Conception of God and Creation,” Science & Christian Belief 33:2 (October 2021): 151-153.
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