…why would studying brain mechanisms, even down to the molecular level, ever provide an answer to those questions?
The answer is this: Because the answer to the interpreting mechanism is not in the brain at all. It is impossible to come by the answers to questions regarding this mechanism by studying human cells, examining neurons or performing research at the molecular level. That is because what causes a person to perceive the outside world is not inside the human body. It is something outside the brain, neurons, cells or electric signals. It is the soul bestowed on us by Almighty Allah.
Reveals Allah in one verse:
… then [He] formed him and breathed His Spirit into him and gave you hearing, sight and hearts. What little thanks you show! (Surat as-Sajda, 9)
People who fail to understand that it is the soul that perceives, and that it is independent of matter, are making a very important mistake: They face the possibility that the images they see exist on a screen in their brains. Yet when we consider that there is a screen in our brains on which the outside world exists, we also have no choice but to admit the existence of a little man watching that screen. And there must be another little man watching the screen in the brain of the first, and so on. But there is no screen and no other little man watching the events on it in the brain. The human brain is pitch black and silent. There is nothing there but neurons made up of proteins and electric signals moving very swiftly back and forth. It is impossible for those electric signals to see a flower, smell it, touch it, delight in it, see a ship sailing in the distance or enjoy the taste of a strawberry–all in a piece of flesh. It is impossible for them to experience a prolonged period of enjoyment of an orchestral symphony. It is obviously not electrical signals that produce such a lively, bustling, brightly colored, vivid, three-dimensional and perfectly sharp world. And there is also no doubt that it is not electric signals that cause one to rejoice or grieve, to feel excitement or concern, to remember and feel happy, or to miss someone and satisfy that longing. Even if the world’s most renowned professors were to work together, as Jeffrey M. Schwartz says, they still would not find this perception mechanism anywhere in the brain.
The self-conscious entity that says “I see” the images and “I hear” the sounds in the brain is the soul given to man by Allah. This is the reality that the materialist mindset is most unwilling of all to see revealed. The soul sees without the need for eyes, touches without the need for hands, hears without the need for ears, smells without the need for a nose and tastes without the need for a mouth. The soul is the only answer to the question of “who does the perceiving?” which scientists have been trying to resolve for years. Allah constantly shows images to the human soul and, day and night, whether in this world or in dreams, creates a whole world for them. Everything in that world has a perfect and flawless appearance. So much so that it is very difficult for us to realize that the sharp image and sensation of depth in front of us consists merely of an illusion and has no connection with the real outside world. This is the flawless, matchless, glorious work of our Almighty Lord, Who has the power to create infinite worlds in an area just a few centimeters in size whenever He chooses.
He is Allah – the Creator, the Maker, the Giver of Form. To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names. Everything in the heavens and Earth glorifies Him. He is the Almighty, the All-Wise. (Surat al-Hashr, 24)
A flawless image forms in our brains because Allah so wills. There are smells there because He so wills and we listen to and enjoy immaculate music because He so wishes. We also feel and recognize things by touching them because Allah so wills. The food we eat has flavor because that is what Allah wills. A whole world emerges in the human mind from nothing at Allah’s command. Our Lord creates a world from nothing in a person’s mind that belongs to that person alone, that only he can see and recognize. This world is not the outside world. It is impossible to have direct contact with the world outside. It is impossible, unless Allah so wills, for anyone to have direct experience of a world created for someone else. One can only live in and watch a world created for oneself alone by Allah. It is impossible to step outside it. In another verse, Allah reveals:
They will ask you about the Spirit. Say: “The Spirit is one of the commands of my Lord. You have only been given a little knowledge.” (Surat al-Isra’, 85)
i Jeffrey M. Schwartz, Sharon Begley, The Mind and The Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force, Regan Books, 2003, p. 27