Neuroscience and Christian Scripture

Let’s apply neuroscience to scripture!  Yay!  I love cross-disciplinary discussions.  

I’m guessing that most people just clicked away after the first sentence.  But for the 3 of you left:

You know that Scripture is a dicey topic.  My published researcher PhD sister Rebecca reminds me the science community thinks all Christians are probably Rick Santorum.   This is not a compliment, but rather evidence for why we (people of the Christian faith) must be nutty.  

Do folk of other religious traditions get the same bad rap?  Somehow, I suspect not.  Because you don’t see many – any? in the Jewish faith claiming “intelligent design” is a viable scientific theory deserving of public school resources.  And that’s just one example.  Maybe because their flock is more intelligent?  (To my friend Rabbi Jill:  What say you?  See her work at http://www.ravjill.com/the-jewish-mindfulness-network/)

On the other hand, many, if not most, Christians dismiss science as irrelevant to faith.  In spite of how neuroscience supports the power of prayer, or how quantum mechanics supports a theological perspective on creation, or any of the other amazing intersections of faith and science.  

And few Christians of whatever brand can agree to what our shared text means.  That, at least, is universal: Whatever sacred text we read, we all miss the point a lot of the time.  We just differ in the humility of our claims. But that sure doesn’t stop us from getting into lots of fights about it, and people can’t run away fast enough, assuming there’s nothing of value in the Christian Bible.

But, well, my number one job responsibility is to figure out what to say on Sunday mornings, using one of the four scheduled scripture texts of the common lectionary.

Preaching:  I love it; It’s a burden; I hate it; I’m astounded by it; I dread it:

Be inspiring! Don’t be boring!  Be practical!  Make God/divine love come alive for us!  Make us FEEL the Spirit!

It’s quite a job description.

So, I thought, why not see what new angle my (admittedly limited & simplistic) study of neuroscience might reveal in the text?  Maybe other folk would be interested as well!  Even though the science community isn’t thrilled to talk with a “person of the cloth,” neither is the institutional church all that excited by the implications of scientific research on the practice of faith.  O well. To me, it’s a fun exercise.  So my goal is to offer a “neurological” perspective on one of the lectionary passages on the weeks I am preparing a sermon.  Which is most weeks.  

Maybe it will help some preachers.  Maybe some who find the Christian Bible “yucky” will be pleasantly surprised.  

Let me know what you think!  

 

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4 thoughts on “Neuroscience and Christian Scripture

  1. Speaking in tongues, being slain in the Spirit and Spiritual Healing are all addressed in the Bible. I have experienced all of these phenomena over the last forty years, Cheryl Suhari has experienced Spiritual Healing of her hands, Let neuroscience explain how this all works!

  2. Thanks, Art, for your comments – I look to neuroscience less to explain the “why” than to give us insights as to the “what” is happening inside our brains when we have those experiences. I am solidly in the camp of saying that the “soul” or “mind” is NOT reducible to brain firings – There is definitely MORE there – We are much more than neurons firing & synapses connecting – Even though many neuroscientists reduce the human experience to that – It’s too reductionistic.

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