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.
• 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