Many of my posts have been written so that interested readers may get a small preview of how I will attempt to unify science and theology in my next book, Proving God. In some cases I show how natural laws emerged from spiritual laws and put God’s character on display. In other cases, I focus on showing how real science is creatively woven into the very fabric of the narratives in the Holy Word.
The second strategy involves everything from physics to neuroscience. Today I would like to touch on how neuroscience is incorporated into the sacred stories of Scripture. First, we have to grasp how Scripture is a multidimensional document that communicates information on several discrete levels.
Its lowest level involves our ordinary language. Higher up, each word sheds its natural meaning and represents non-physical events taking place in the human heart and mind, especially with respect to our relationship with God. On the highest level, every word expresses a Divine meaning and treats of the Lord exclusively (high Christology).
In a nutshell, Scripture contains a natural level, a psycho-spiritual level, and a purely Divine level. Therefore, we should not be surprised to find that the Holy Word can address human psychology and neuroscience on a level beyond its literal interpretation.
The New Testament account of the Lord teaching His disciples how to fish provides us with a perfect demonstration of this unique thesis. In John (21:6) we read that the disciples took out their boat out at night to catch some fish. During that night they caught nothing. But then Jesus appears the next morning, on the shore, and tells them to cast their net on the right side of the boat. This switch in tactics was so successful that their net became too heavy with fish to pull into the boat.
On a higher level, this biblical story was actually about the Lord teaching His disciples how to become fishers of men. Modern neuroscience tells us that the left side of the brain is more intellectual, while the right side is more emotional and creative. So the lesson for the disciples was that they would not be able to convince others to follow the Lord from any mere intellectual argument – but from love.
That the disciples began fishing “at night” represents that they started their task of recruiting new believers from a state of mental darkness or obscurity. The Lord appeared in the morning to represent an awakening in the cognitive function of His disciples. In other words, they were enlightened by the Lord’s appearance and influence.
Another unexpected example of neuroscience being expressed in Scripture is to be found in the story of Noah’s Ark. The Ark’s construction consisted of three levels. These three levels also represent the cognitive architecture of the human intellect and its distinct functioning. The lowest level is the memory and its knowledge. The middle level is reasoning. And, the uppermost level represents and our highest intellectual qualities.
It is important to note therefore that Scripture views human memory, reasoning, and higher mind as discontinuous operations. It is through the mediation of these three distinct levels of our cognitive architecture that God’s light can flow down (top-down causality) and illuminate the entire human intellect.
The timeless lesson of Noah’s Ark is that God’s guidance allows the human mind to remain buoyant during times of troubled waters and can then be taken to a higher place – represented by “Mount Ararat.” Without these higher interpretations, Scripture could not be perennially relevant to humans of all epochs.
Do you find these ideas farfetched? Do you believe God’s literary skills are no different from the finite talents of secular writers reproducing historical events? Or, do you believe that God would use a multi-leveled style capable of communicating Infinite Wisdom and foresight?