Why do we wonder how it can be that consciousness exists? Why do we try to explain the phenomenon, break it up into its component parts, comprehend the act of consciousness?
So far from being a
mystery, consciousness is the most obvious phenomenon of nature - a phenomenon prior to, and more obvious than, any explanation we could give of it. Descartes hit upon a deep insight when he put consciousness as the most fundamental datum of phenomenology, although the later phenomenologists were equally correct to insist on the primordiality (we might say co-primordiality) of the contents of consciousness.
In light of this, the perspective of the objective scientific worldview can be a distraction from the ordinary, usual human way of looking at the world. It is not marvelous that we should be
conscious, but rather that there should exist a material being which is not
conscious. It is only through
accustomization that we accept the material world; the only self-evident truths
are the spiritual truths.
Indeed, as Descartes tried rather unconvincingly to prove rigorously, the only self-evident truth is that
something should exist which is both a knowing (conscious) being and a
necessary one. I AM is the foundation of
all our knowledge; it is only our immersion in the sensible world that has made
it mysterious to us. I repeat, it is
natural to think and unnatural to be an object; it is the rock that needs
explaining, not the mind. What is only
mysterious about the mind is its contingency.
How is it possible for me not to exist? How can one imagine what it would be like to not exist, the experience of the world without existing to experience it? And who can imagine the world apart from our experience of it? Necessity is the only truly natural state for consciousness.
All genuine philosophy begins in persona Dei; it is quite wondrous
that we have realized our own non-divinity. I AM is a transcendental given; it lies coprimordially with the contents of consciousness in every thought and every act of the mind, no matter how creative or abstract. That our minds can even imagine a reality which does not experience the "I AM" - inert matter - is hence the real mystery to be solved. If one were to speculate on the nature of the angels, one must think that they, in all their
intellectual vision, cannot understand matter – or if they can, that to them it seems an
unnatural and arbitrary thing compared to the awesome obviousness of Mind.
I do not suggest that we should understand
mind; to understand anything fully is to be able to reproduce it; therefore
only God can understand Mind, for only God can create contingent intellects,
and only God is His own understanding of Himself (again, philosophy – as all
true philosophy does – leads to the Trinity).
We know that the created world exists because we see it; only God’s
existence is too obvious to need sight.
God is a fundamental, simple primary a priori truth; that is to say, it is the
a basic thing we know without having to think about it.