The Temple

You Are Not Your Brain

Philosopher and professor at UC Berkeley Alva Noe has written a book entitled “Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain, and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness”.  This is a fascinating topic that spans the disciplines of biology, psychology, neuro-science, philosophy and theology.

Noe has a video on Edge the Third Culture website (hardly a Christian site) which is interesting because the conclusions drawn from this discussion mitigate against a materialistic universe held by most of the Edge crowd (Dawkins, Dennett, Gould, et al).  Materialists want to make consciousness merely a function of the brain.

“The reason we have been unable to  explain the neural basis of consciousness is that it does not take place in the brain…Consciousness is not something that happens inside us but something we achieve.  To understand consciousness – the fact that we think and feel and that a world shows up for us – we need to look at a larger system of which the brain is only one element.  Consciousness requires the joint operation of brain, body and world.  You are not your brain.  The brain rather is part of what you are.”

The question will be how do they link this idea with a materialist worldview.

Of course the Christian worldview has always answered this question with the soul and body composition of man.  We are made up of a material and immaterial part.  We are not gnostics who attribute superiority to the immaterial part, we view man as created in original holiness and good.  Depravity has distorted the image of God in man, and has affected both the material and immaterial parts of man.  Regeneration primarily deals with the immaterial part of man, and resurrection finalizes redemption as it is fully applied to us – the resurrection of the body being the primary focus.  Consciousness resides in the immaterial part of man and uses the brain to communicate between body and soul.

Thanks to Jim O. for the heads up on the Scientific American book review of Noe’s soon to be released work.

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March 10, 2009 Posted by | Christianity, Philosophy, Theological | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dennis Prager on Human Nature

Here is an interesting article by Dennis Prager called Is There Really Only One Human Race?

I don’t agree with Dennis here, the Christian view of man’s nature is that none are good and all fall short of God’s glory.  In order to understand the Bible’s teaching on the nature of man we need to identify two contexts in which the term good is used.

The first context is creation.  When God created He declares his creation “good” and “very good”.  Even after the fall man retains the image of God (Genesis 9:6).  In that sense we can say that man retains his creative goodness. Yet sin has also broken into the creation, and so even here we are all born in sin.  Sin has marred the good creation of God and so redemption is framed as re-creation.  We are new creations in Christ.

The second context is the context of covenant.  In terms of covenant we are “not good”.  We are covenant breakers, all of us.  No one is exempt from this covenant brokenness and it is here that we are in need of redemption.

This distinction is necessary for without it we logically slip into Gnostic heresy (body=evil; spirit=good).

March 3, 2009 Posted by | Theological | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment