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Christianity Today online piece tries to meld neuroscience and Christian spirituality

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At the time I was working on a book, The One Jesus Loves, that reflected on the concentric groups of people in Jesus’ life and the significance of their proximity to him. Neuroscience made this model came alive in a new way for me.

Consider this:

• The Crowds (the place of Watching & Listening to Jesus, a place of introduction to him) ignites the Occipital-Parietal Circuit in the brain. According to Newberg, this is the system that helps us identify that God exists. Interestingly, it is the area of the brain responsible for the assembly of auditory and visual stimuli.

• The 5000 (the place of Feeding & Healing, where we begin to receive from Jesus in our lives) fires up the Parietal-Frontal Circuit. This system helps us see ourselves and our comparative weakness and needs in light of God. It integrates sensory information such as touch.

• The 70 (the place of Working for & Serving Jesus, of us joining Jesus in his ministry to others) ignites the Thalamus. This system helps us apply our faith to our view of the world around us and its needs. It relays sensory signals to other parts of the brain and aids in motor control and movement, to engaging our bodies in the works of faith.

• The Twelve (the place of Leaving All & Following Jesus wherever he may lead us next) fires up the Frontal Lobe. This system “integrates all of our ideas about God” and helps us make ultimate decisions about life and about him. It is an executive functioning aspect that is associated with planning, motivation, and reward. It sends signals to other nerve cells and plays a major role in reward-motivated behavior.

This model would do absolutely nothing for most people who are looking for a ray of divine hope, except persuade them to look elsewhere.

Which is actually quite a good idea, and they should act on it promptly.

When God wants to make himself known to people, he just does. To saints, sages, and sinners alike. And this stuff is the all-too-typical fluff produced by evangelicals who want to have it both ways — association with a cool science plus a spirituality that never had any need of it.

It is almost as bad as some BioLogos types trying to meld Darwinism and Christianity, except that, unlike Darwinism, left to itself neuroscience is at least a respectable science. Keeping bad company here.

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Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose

4 Replies to “Christianity Today online piece tries to meld neuroscience and Christian spirituality

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    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    This model would do absolutely nothing for most people who are looking for a ray of divine hope, except persuade them to look elsewhere.

    Not a shallow critique coming from someone who co-wrote a book entitled,,,

    The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul Paperback – Mario Beauregard, Denyse O’Leary
    http://www.amazon.com/Spiritua.....tual+brain

    IMHO, before subtle nuances as to how mind and brain interact, such as the article in the OP tried to elucidate, the main battle right now is to educate people on the very basic, elementary, even rudimentary, fact that the mind IS NOT the brain. Until that foundation is rigorously laid, all this talk of the ‘spiritual nuances’ of the brain is completely lost on a, for the most part, uncomprehending public. As Dr. Eben Alexander, the Harvard neurosurgeon who had a Near Death Experience, put it, “It’s time for brain science, mind science, physics, cosmology, to move from kindergarten up into first grade,,”.

    (Harvard neurosurgeon) Dr. Eben Alexander Says It’s Time for Brain Science to Graduate From Kindergarten – 10/24/2013
    Excerpt: As long as scientists hold onto that simplistic (materialistic) thinking they are going to be mired down to never, ever explain consciousness or the enigmas of quantum mechanics. But there are a lot of scientists out there who do get it,,,
    The pure scientific materialist model that I worshiped for so many years has absolutely nothing to offer up in terms of explaining how consciousness might emerge from the physical brain.,,,
    consciousness is a far deeper, more profound mystery than “kindergarten level” scientific materialism offers up. Now that’s why I include in my book the hard problem of consciousness and the enigma of quantum mechanics.,,,
    It’s time for brain science, mind science, physics, cosmology, to move from kindergarten up into first grade and realize we will never truly understand consciousness with that simplistic materialist mindset.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....51093.html

    A few more notes on the veracity of NDEs

    Near death, explained? – Mario Beauregard – Apr 21, 2012
    Excerpt: The scientific NDE (Near Death Experience) studies performed over the past decades indicate that heightened mental functions can be experienced independently of the body at a time when brain activity is greatly impaired or seemingly absent (such as during cardiac arrest). Some of these studies demonstrate that blind people can have veridical perceptions during OBEs associated with an NDE. Other investigations show that NDEs often result in deep psychological and spiritual changes.
    These findings strongly challenge the mainstream neuroscientific view that mind and consciousness result solely from brain activity. As we have seen, such a view fails to account for how NDErs can experience—while their hearts are stopped—vivid and complex thoughts and acquire veridical information about objects or events remote from their bodies.
    NDE studies also suggest that after physical death, mind and consciousness may continue in a transcendent level of reality that normally is not accessible to our senses and awareness. Needless to say, this view is utterly incompatible with the belief of many materialists that the material world is the only reality.
    http://www.salon.com/2012/04/2.....socialflow

    Nonlocal Consciousness: An Explanatory Model for the Near-Death Experience – Pim van Lommel, M.D. – video
    http://www.btci.org/bioethics/...../vid1.html

    A Reply to Shermer Medical Evidence for NDEs (Near Death Experiences) – Pim van Lommel
    Excerpt: For decades, extensive research has been done to localize memories (information) inside the brain, so far without success.,,,,So we need a functioning brain to receive our consciousness into our waking consciousness. And as soon as the function of brain has been lost, like in clinical death or in brain death, with iso-electricity on the EEG, memories and consciousness do still exist, but the reception ability is lost. People can experience their consciousness outside their body, with the possibility of perception out and above their body, with identity, and with heightened awareness, attention, well-structured thought processes, memories and emotions. And they also can experience their consciousness in a dimension where past, present and future exist at the same moment, without time and space, and can be experienced as soon as attention has been directed to it (life review and preview), and even sometimes they come in contact with the “fields of consciousness” of deceased relatives. And later they can experience their conscious return into their body.
    http://www.nderf.org/vonlommel.....sponse.htm

    Dr. Jeffrey Long: Just how strong is the evidence for a afterlife? – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mptGAc3XWPs

    Near-Death Experiences: Putting a Darwinist’s Evidentiary Standards to the Test – Dr. Michael Egnor – October 15, 2012
    Excerpt: Indeed, about 20 percent of NDE’s are corroborated, which means that there are independent ways of checking about the veracity of the experience. The patients knew of things that they could not have known except by extraordinary perception — such as describing details of surgery that they watched while their heart was stopped, etc. Additionally, many NDE’s have a vividness and a sense of intense reality that one does not generally encounter in dreams or hallucinations.,,,
    The most “parsimonious” explanation — the simplest scientific explanation — is that the (Near Death) experience was real. Tens of millions of people have had such experiences. That is tens of millions of more times than we have observed the origin of species , (or the origin of life, or the origin of a molecular machine), which is never.,,,
    The materialist reaction, in short, is unscientific and close-minded. NDE’s show fellows like Coyne at their sneering unscientific irrational worst. Somebody finds a crushed fragment of a fossil and it’s earth-shaking evidence. Tens of million of people have life-changing spiritual experiences and it’s all a big yawn.
    Note: Dr. Egnor is professor and vice-chairman of neurosurgery at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65301.html

    Memories of Near Death Experiences (NDEs): More Real Than Reality? – Mar. 27, 2013
    Excerpt: University of Liège researchers have demonstrated that the physiological mechanisms triggered during NDE lead to a more vivid perception not only of imagined events in the history of an individual but also of real events which have taken place in their lives!,,,
    ,,,researchers,, have looked into the memories of NDE with the hypothesis that if the memories of NDE were pure products of the imagination, their phenomenological characteristics (e.g., sensorial, self referential, emotional, etc. details) should be closer to those of imagined memories. Conversely, if the NDE are experienced in a way similar to that of reality, their characteristics would be closer to the memories of real events.
    The researchers compared the responses provided by three groups of patients, each of which had survived (in a different manner) a coma, and a group of healthy volunteers. They studied the memories of NDE and the memories of real events and imagined events with the help of a questionnaire which evaluated the phenomenological characteristics of the memories. The results were surprising. From the perspective being studied, not only were the NDEs not similar to the memories of imagined events, but the phenomenological characteristics inherent to the memories of real events (e.g. memories of sensorial details) are even more numerous in the memories of NDE than in the memories of real events.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....190359.htm

    A Doctor’s Near Death Experience Inspires a New Life – video
    Quote: “It’s not like a dream. It’s like the world we are living in is a dream and it’s kind of like waking up from that.”
    Dr. Magrisso
    http://www.nbcchicago.com/on-a.....31791.html

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    bornagain77 says:

    One of the more fascinating branches of Near Death Studies have been the studies of people who were born blind who have had NDE’s, who could see for the first time in their life during their NDE. This simply has no explanation within the materialistic framework, whereas, in the theistic framework, this is expected:

    Blind Woman Can See During Near Death Experience (NDE) – Pim von Lommel – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKyQJDZuMHE

    Kenneth Ring and Sharon Cooper (1997) conducted a study of 31 blind people, many of who reported vision during their Near Death Experiences (NDEs). 21 of these people had had an NDE while the remaining 10 had had an out-of-body experience (OBE), but no NDE. It was found that in the NDE sample, about half had been blind from birth. (of note: This ‘anomaly’ is also found for deaf people who can hear sound during their Near Death Experiences(NDEs).)
    http://www.newdualism.org/nde-.....-147-1.pdf

    Verse, Quote, and Music:

    2 Corinthians 12:2-4
    I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.

    “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
    William Shakespeare – Hamlet

    Cry Out To Jesus – Third Day
    http://myktis.com/songs/cry-out-to-jesus/

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    kairosfocus says:

    My summary thoughts on disciple-building, here, cf. U6, 7, 8 RH col. KF

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