Monday, March 16, 2009

God On The Brain

When I was a new Christian there began appearing a plethora of books on the value of prayer in the process of physical and emotional healing. In my naivete, I thought "Wow, the secular world is beginning to acknowledge the truth of the Gospel!" Actually, what the secular world was acknowledging was not the Gospel, but a kind of spirituality that embraced all religions. In other words, the medical field and the world of science was beginning to revise their complete hostility to religious experience. This revision was not an affirmation of the Christian revelation as contained in the Scriptures and the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. This new spirituality embraced all religions as equally true and derived from the same sources. All ethical systems deriving from these religions are treated as basically alike. Some Christians treat this phenomenon as a good thing. According to them, it is much easier to introduce Jesus to people in such a climate than before, when the most prominent intellectual opposition to the Gospel was atheism, which mistrusted all religious experiences. While I cannot argue against this contention, it should be kept in mind that the enemy of our souls can manipulate any positive trend for his own purposes. If he cannot defeat the Church through atheism alone, why not defeat it through a spirituality the world can adopt but which does not require repentance and salvation to practice. Such a spirituality undermines the unique truth claims of God's Word regarding Creation and the exclusivity of Christ as the only way to God. While such spirituality encourages people to be kind to one another, it rejects as the source of power to live rightly the Holy Spirit as the third person of the Trinity residing in us. All Orthodox doctrines of Christianity are viewed with suspicion as shackles preventing self fulfillment. All personal lifestyle choices are considered equally valid. Modern Science, rejecting the Christian base which gave it birth, has become an ally of such a spirituality, undermining not only belief in the truth claims of the Gospel, but the existence of the personal God who created man and the Universe.

Here are some links to illustrate how modern science without a Christian base is attempting to shape peoples religious views:

Last May David Brooks published an article on how neuroscience, the study of the brain, is being used to claim that all religious experiences have their origins in chemical processes within the brain. "The Cognitive revolution is not going to end up undermining faith in God," Brooks contends. "...its going to end up challenging faith in the Bible." In other words, people will not disbelieve in the existence of a god, but they will not accept the God revealed through the Old and New Testaments who can only be approached through Christ. Brooks goes on to say, "Orthodox believers are going to have to defend particular doctrines and particular biblical teachings. They are going to have to defend the idea of a personal God, and explain why specific theologies are true guides for behavior today." Brooks does not say this, but one of those theologies we will have to defend is holiness of heart and life. Its not enough to ask whether the Church is ready to combat this trend intellectually. We must ask ourselves as individuals whether our private lives affirm the truth of those "specific theologies that are guides for behavior today."

This link refers to an article in a leading science publication maintaining that modern scientific discoveries in the field of neuroscience prove the non-existence of the soul and the supernatural. This article's author attacks all those who disagree as ignorant. A response to this article is contained in this link.

Some scientists are sure of the origin of the human ability to distinguish right from wrong. Human test subjects were shown pictures of bad food or sites in unsanitary conditions. Their facial features were similar when they suffered intentional mistreatment during the research. The only conclusion: our ability to distinguish between right and wrong originates in our behavior as infants in choosing which food we like and which food we will not eat. "Surprisingly, our sophisticated moral sense of what is right and wrong may develop from a newborns innate preference for what tastes good and bad, what is potentially nutritious verses poisonous." This according to one of the researchers.

Here is an article from the BBC on researchers who maintain that love is nothing more than the result of chemical activity. Also, according to these researchers, the experience of love in human beings is no different than the experience of love in animals. "I don't think the way a mother loves her baby is that different to a mother's love in a chimpanzee or a rhesus monkey or even a rat" one of these scientists states. Some scientists hope to utilize the results of these studies to produce drugs to alter human behavior in interpersonal relationships. They also hope this research leads to the manufacture of drugs for other purposes: "Used wisely, such pharmacology could enhance human experience and mitigate human suffering." Can any one say "Brave New World"?

Where did this type of thinking originate, equating all religious experience with chemical processes? Perhaps the best answer would be when Darwin's theory of Evolution challenged the Biblical doctrine of the creation of Man in the image of God; that man was nothing more than the highest form of evolved animals. Here is a quote from Darwin attempting to explain the religious nature of man: "No being could experience so complex an emotion until advanced in his intellectual and moral faculties to at least a moderately high level. Nevertheless, we see some distinct approach to this state of mind in the deep love of a dog for his master, associated with complete submission, some fear,, and perhaps other feelings...Professor Braubach goes so far to maintain that a dog looks on his master as a god." (Charles Darwin, "The Descent of Man.)

You may say "You have got to be kidding. No one will fall for this." Well, I hope you are right. But in a pluralistic society, where the social pressure to equate all religious beliefs as equally true, I am afraid that many a Christian will abandon their faith and adopt this line of reasoning. Their motivations will be two-fold: to avoid social pressure and to excuse their own sin. We must be able not only to combat this intellectually. Our lives must be the best argument against it.

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