It is argued that human consciousness is likely to have emerged during the self-consistent evolution of the physical universe, through the gradual accumulation of biological entities' ability to tap into the intrinsic non-deterministic potentiality in the global nonequilibrium phase transitions occurring continually in the quantum universe. Due to the fact that the matter and energy content participating in these global phase transitions is a continuum, there are in effect infinite degrees-of-freedom in the substratum, which invalidate the usual deterministic laws of the mechanical evolution, and allow chance factors to appear in the emergent properties of resonantly-formed quantum particles, especially in the acquired phases of their wavefunctions. Such chance factors, though occurring mostly randomly during the early cosmic evolution phase, can be harnessed more "purposefully" by the biological entities co-evolving with the physical universe, due in part to the globally-entangled nature of quantum interactions. Over time, this ability to deliberately manipulate the chance factor in the fundamental level of quantum interactions gradually evolves into the free will and self-awareness of higher biological beings. The emergence of higher-level consciousness in turn greatly enhances the entropy-production ability of the biological entities, making them a powerful new form of the "dissipative structures" that nature constructs to accelerate the entropy evolution of the universe. It is further shown that complex, nonequilibrium systems (including the universe as a whole) have the innate ability to spontaneously generate ever-renewable, highly-complex structural features in response to a changing and evolving environment; therefore natural selection is not the only driving mechanism for the irreversible evolution of the internal characteristics of biological species.