A Voice in the
Re: the Brain and Morality
You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Mt5:27-28)
"And even as they do not like to have God in their full true knowledge, God gives them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting.... who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do them, but also approve of those who practice them." (Rom1:28,32)
Anybody who is a Star Trekkie, enjoys Sci-Fi shows, or watches weekly episodes of Andromeda or Mutant-X, or has seen some of the old episodes of Dr. Who, the Outer Limits, etc, is familiar with science fiction's depictions of dealing with the human brain. In some cases the technology is capable of extracting all the data out of one brain, implanting it into another brain, supposedly transfering the 'personality' from one body into the next. In others, a brain is removed from the skull and connected to some equipment and the personality within that brain/equipment reigns terror upon its subjects. Data from a huge computer matrix might be downloaded into an android. Who can forget the episode where Data was given an "emotions chip"; or where the Borg queen was reduced to a short-circuited, sparking, trembling likeness of a spine/brain on the floor; reducing soul and emotions to a collection of electrical pathways, synapses, and neural networks.
On the other hand, when a Christian, or anybody else possessed of moral values, speaks to a self-proclaimed amoral person about the "thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb4:12) vs one's actual actions, the amoral person might scoff at such a notion of right vs wrong at a 'spiritual' level. The thought of something like a 'soul', which until now a person could not observe, measure and quantify...the intangible having control over the tangible...that there is morality pent up -within- a person, totally separate of one's actions and those things visible to others. That 'morality' is not merely actions, but also defines the 'thoughts'.
Or, if a spiritual Christian is exhorting a carnal Christian about their behavior, the carnal one might say something like: Well, yeah, I go to the bar, but I don't -do- all those things that are done there. Yeah, I hang out with my old friends as they are smoking pot, and talking of their sexual exploits, and whatever else they do; but I DON'T DO the things they are doing. Thus, they disobey Scriptural exhortation to "love not the world or the things of the world" (1Jn2:15) and to "..have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness..." (Eph5:11)
The argument is: If I'm NOT -DOING- it, I'm NOT GUILTY.
Well, guess what... If you are doing like these who claim these things, you -ARE- guilty! And furthermore...it can be proven scientifically.
"Bunk!" you say?
Just hang on... and I'll explain. Usually, these people who may claim to be "Christian", prove their disbelief by their disobedience (1Jn2:4); and they will also typically be those who believe more in science.
So... let us look at science.
On 1/30/05 I was surfing the TV channels to see if anybody was covering the Iraq elections. Nobody was. But Public TV had a program that caught my attention. It was about the -brain- and something called "mirror neurons". Quite fascinating, really...
There is an area on both sides of the brain (mirror to each other) that, whenever a person does something, thinks a though, feels an emotion, etc; the synapses in these two mirrored spots of the brain experience neural activity, together, which can be predictably measured by test equipment.
They also conducted experiments with monkeys. When the monkey would pick up the peanut, the test equipment would make its pre-programmed sound; letting the scientists know that that area of the monkey's brain had just fired off. Pick up a peanut; sound. Pick up another peanut; sound.
The telling thing, which applies to what we are concerned about here right now... They had the monkey sitting there, doing nothing, but hooked up to the brain monitor. A -person- came along and picked up a peanut, and Surprise! 'Sound' In other words, the monkey, seeing the peanut being picked up, within its own monkey psyche; it was like the monkey, itself, -was- picking up that peanut, even though physically the monkey was just sitting there doing 'nothing'.
They conducted similar experiments on humans, with similar results. A person watching a football game might have the same brain activity as a player on the field. A person watching an emotional movie, and crying, experiencing the same brain activity as the actors, or other people going through the same actual emotions.
Jesus said that it was not necessary to actually have physical sexual relations...if a person was lusting in that manner in their heart, it was the same as having committed the physical act. Considering these experiments with the 'mirror neurons', what would happen if a person's brain was measured, comparing them -doing- the act, vs lusting after the act?
Jesus also said: "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual perversions, thefts, false witness, blasphemies." (Mt15:19)
But how is -that- possible?
Here's another little bit of Scripture and Science to chew on. Why can we 'trust' such an experiment that measures brain waves, when the spiritual heart is in the physically intangible realm?
Many of you will remember back to the series "Life is in the Blood" in which we observed the (Hebrew) "nephesh"...the "soul". That: "the soul of the flesh is in the blood" (Lev17:11)
Here's another interesting thing I saw on another TV special a bit earlier. The special was discussing the difference between men and women, in terms of seemingly 'innate' abilities in things like math and other activities. It has usually been the societal/academic observation that men tend to excel at math over women. This program was wondering if there was any scientifically measurable way to prove the difference, and to ascertain 'why' there should be a difference.
There are other brain measurements they have. When a person is engaged in any sort of activity, whether physical or mental, whether of an emotional nature or analytical, there is continually electrical activity in -various- parts of the brain. Whatever the activity, a different area of the brain is involved. They also have noticed that when these sections of the brain are more active, that there is also more (ready for this?) -blood- flow in those areas. And with their new scanning technology, they can measure and pinpoint this increased blood flow.
According to these scientific measurements, when a male is engaged in mathematical calculations, this brain activity (measured by blood flow) is localized to -a- specific area of the brain. When a female is engaged in the same activity, her brain activity (measured by blood flow) is scattered here and there throughout the brain in a whole bunch of random 'smaller' pockets of activity all over the place. Thus, perhaps, scientific confirmation of the old expression "scatter-brained". (Ladies: don't be mad at me. That is not my expression/observation, but theirs; scientists of the world)
Science observes the human brain as being a highly-sophisticated 'computer'...they haven't even yet begun to tap its fullness, it is so complex.
Science fiction tries to suggest that a person's 'essence' is contained in the brain; that if you 'download' the data from one brain, and could 'upload' that data to another brain, that 'essence' would now be resident in that other body. But from reality, we know that a computer is essentially an empty slate. A computer, just sitting there on the table, is not capable of a single thing, except to be turned on and make noise (from its fans and hard drive). It requires an operating system and application software. However also, the OS and software do not just run themselves, either. A computer, OS and software require an 'operator'. Somebody must type into the keyboard to accomplish tasks, or set other pre-programmed sequences of events into motion.
With the computer that is the human brain, who/what is the 'operator'? The 'soul' (nephesh). Where is the soul? Scripture says, "in the blood". You don't believe the Bible? Well, isn't it an interesting coincidence that when there is elevated activity in sections of the brain, that there is also elevated blood flow to those same places!
So now...the 'soul' operates the brain of a person who claims they are not sinning, because they didn't actually -physically- commit the act. But when they are lusting after some activity, their 'mirror neurons' are firing away in a way that is scientifically measurable, and there is the associated -blood- (soul) flow to that area. The -soul- is activating that part of the brain JUST AS IF the person was physically -doing- the act.
That's not sin?
Who is it who sees us at the level of "soul and spirit" and is a "discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart"? (Heb4:12) The Word of God, Jesus Christ.
You see...sin -is- measureable....even 'scientifically'.
What does this say about watching that movie in which lustful emotions are running rampant, and they amplify the kissing sounds and project the emotions out the screen with lots of skin? What does that say about those video games from which most parents seem unwilling to remove their children? What does that say about those glances, stares, subtle smiles, slight tilt of the head...the various things that people do when 'flirting'? Oh! (you say) it was just 'innocent' fun! I'm still going home to my wife whom I love dearly! Not according to the 'mirror neurons'! It was "adultery".
Yes, we could go on and on with these descriptions. But I'm sure you get the picture. You watch those two making out on the screen, you get emotionally caught up in the story...-you- ARE -doing- it, every bit as if you were one of the actors! Children who play video games of violence ARE -doing- violent acts within their souls. Spiritually, how many people have they "killed" in that manner...before they even reach the age of adulthood?
The expression "monkey see-monkey do"...this understanding brings a bit of 'reality' to that expression, doesn't it.
Perhaps the Fundamentalist Christian "separatists" know something the love-and-unity liberals don't? Why do they know it? Because they stick to the Bible, for what it -says-, and accept it in faith; not... for what it "means to me", explaining away things of 'holiness' as "gray areas".
The Bible says, "Therefore, Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you." (2Co6:17)
Did you notice from the opening passage...? Everybody is familiar with Romans ch1, the chapter that pretty much describes our modern depraved world to-a-tee, and spells out the depravity in detail. But how many notice the closing verses? Notice what it says is "reprobate"; the "-mind-". And furthermore, what is the condemnation? Only for -doing- all the evil things? No! they "also -approve- of those who practice them"
For those who don't acknowledge the Bible, now there is also scientific proof and support for what the Bible says.
"For ever since the creation of the world the unseen things of Him are clearly perceived, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that THEY ARE WITHOUT EXCUSE..." (Rom1:20)