Friday, 25 May 2012

'Twas not me, 'twas my brain...

Typical newspaper head-line and by-line seen today:
'Desire to (blank) is hard-wired into human brains' - Nevada scientists say our willingness to (blank) might actually not be our fault - it could be hardwired into our brain.
The logic of such statements does not compute. If the desire to do thing X is "hard-wired" (whatever they mean by that) into our brains, then how does doing thing X then become not our fault?

"It was not me - it was my brain" - what does that statement actually mean? Is your brain a constituent part of you or not? If not, then what is it?

Christians do believe there is an "I" other than and distinct from our brain and other biochemistry. There is an immaterial part which can be distinguished from the material part. We have a soul. We are not simply lumps of flesh, blindly working  out chemical inevitabilities. But belief in a soul does not entail that it is the body's helpless victim, much less that the spirit/soul is "I" and the brain/body is an "it" which is something completely distinct.

Our friends the "Scientists in Nevada" and appear to be trying to escape the idea of personal responsibility. The cash value of "it was my brain, not me" is that "so don't blame me for it".

That's a secular vision of salvation: you escape guilt for your sins because it wasn't you: it was your brain. But if your brain is part of you, then that does not work. Salvation does not consist in the 5-year old's excuse "it was not me, nobody did it", nor in more grown-up philosophical or pseudo-scientific versions. It was me, I did do it; but Jesus died for me and forgave me and changed me.

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