Thursday, April 1, 2010

Deconstructed

Since the invention and application of functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI), it seems that neuroscience has taken off. The last ten years have accelerated our knowledge of the brain faster than the journals can publish the results. Everyone is getting on the bandwagon. Even though some uses of this technology have not really been substantiated by research, that has not stopped people from offering it to the public. Companies are already popping up that use FMRI technology to diagnose and treat psychological disorders, as well as criminal lie detection.

Some research has shown that adding the words “neurological” or including a picture of the brain will lead to your findings appearing more credible. It is also a movement towards deconstructionism. Since you can look at someone’s brain activity in real time on an FMRI machine, it has led us back to the idea that our entire existence is a collection of chemical reactions that occur a few inches above the neck. We call this the “Mind-brain” problem.

Jesus teaches a teacher about the mind-brain problem in John 3. He tells him that “flesh gives birth to flesh, but the spirit gives birth to spirit.” Jesus also explains that there is something beyond what we see, hear, and experience. Finally, he tells the teacher that he is trying to use imagery that normal people can understand.

Although it is very important to study our brain’s processes, I think being human is more than chemical reactions. We are more than carbon-based complicated robots. However, I do not think science will find some inexplicable hole in the brain where God jumps in and listens to our thoughts. As Jesus said, there is flesh and there is spirit, they are different realities. Even though the two may interact, I think the spirit is undetectable by human means. I believe this is one of the greatest mysteries. Someday, we will know the answer.

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