The Angel and the Neuroscientist

Once upon a time there was a neuroscientist named Fred. He was different from most neuroscientists in that he believed that the universe did not run on its own, but that it was sustained by God’s continuous action and providence. As a brain scientist, he wondered if the human mind and its growth partook of transcendent and heavenly causes as well. Could these causes be put into scientific language?

So Fred often read the Scriptures, hoping for some new insight into God’s special action within human consciousness and our physical brains. On this particular day Fred was reading from Genesis, verses 15 and 16:

And it came to pass that scarcely had he done speaking, when behold Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, with a pitcher on her shoulder. And the damsel was exceedingly good to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her; and she went down to the fountain, and filled her pitcher, and came up.

Fred had scarcely any time to think about these passages when suddenly a beautiful angel appeared before him, surrounded in resplendent light.

“Oh no!” exclaimed the concerned scientist, “I’m having a temporal lobe seizure!”

“Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha,” giggled the amused angel. “Relax, experiencing a heavenly vision is not the result of a pathological condition.”

“Why have you made yourself visible to me?” asked Fred anxiously.

“I have been sent from God to teach you about the science of the mind that is contained in the biblical passages you just read,” said the angel with a most loving smile.

“The words of the story seem plain enough to me. These passages simply portray historical events,” replied the highly-educated brain scientist.

The angel barely held back her laughter. “Those who revere the Holy Word value its stories as God’s revealed wisdom. But God’s Wisdom is Infinite and inexhaustible. How could the Lord God’s Infinite Wisdom find its fullness in such a mundane account of human history? God’s ways are not men’s ways, so why would you expect God to write like finite humans? The two verses you just read treat of human cognitive science, for starters.”

“Are you saying that Scripture contains the science of the mind and human nature?” came Fred’s surprised and disbelieving reply.

“Yes,” said the angel, as her smile grew wider. “As a neuroscientist, you have recently tried to formulate a multi-level cognitive theory—based on levels of emotion. Your theory is moving in the right direction because it leads to spiritual considerations.

“Please tell me more,” begged Fred.

“You have correctly theorized that emotional forces shape human attention and dispose the data of one’s memory into a coherent form,” stated the angel. “Although we prefer to use words like love or affection instead of emotion. The two biblical verses you just read represent God’s amazing creative ability to help people visualize human mental processes through profound metaphor and symbols.”

“If what you are saying is true, that would bring about an upheaval to both science and religion,” spoke the wide-eyed scientist.

“The world is in need of such revelations,” maintained the heavenly being. “Rebekah represents a quality of spiritual love, since her genealogy has the same pedigree as that of Abraham, who was a man of God. That she symbolizes spiritual love is further confirmed because of her beauty and the fact that she was a virgin and therefore pure.”

The angel now felt confident that she could reveal deeper heavenly secrets to Fred.

“Rebecah’s actions in this biblical story describe how God forms a proper rational mind in humans. Rationality consists of how well a person can organize their ideas into coherent form. Rebekah, who shoulders a water-pitcher, represents the power of spiritual love to elevate the information contained in the human mind into a higher rational cognitive function. The human memory is a vessel for data just as a pitcher is a vessel for water. So her going down to draw water from a fountain and then bringing it back up signifies spiritual love going down into the human memory and raising its ideas to a higher level. The story of Rebekah goes on to reveal even more details of this spiritual process.”

“How is this story to be understood as a multi-leveled cognitive theory of emotion?” asked Fred.

“Simple,” replied the heavenly messenger. “In a later passage Rebecah is described as getting water from a well instead of a fountain. This represents action from two distinct qualities of emotion or love. A well is static, but a fountain is more dynamic and therefore represents knowledge that is more vital to the proper growth and evolution of the human mind. The evolution of the human mind is ultimately spiritual.”

“Why are you sharing these things with me?” asked Fred who was absolutely stunned.

“Because your heart is in the right place,” answered the angel. “Only people who have good and open hearts can understand such sacred things. I have much more to share with you. Can you bear it?”

http://www.provinggod.com

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About thegodguy

EDWARD F. SYLVIA, M.T.S. Philosopher/Theologian Edward F. Sylvia attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and received his Master of Theological Studies at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA and a Certificate of Swedenborgian Studies from the Swedenborgian House of Studies. He is a member of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (C.T.N.S.) and the Swedenborg Scientific Association (S.S.A.). Award-winning author of "Sermon From the Compost Pile: Seven Steps Toward Creating An Inner Garden" and "Proving God," which fulfills a continuing vision that God’s fingerprints of love can be found everywhere in the manifest universe. His most recent book, "Swedenborg & Gurdjieff: The Missing Links" is an edgy collection of anti-intuitive essays for personal transformation that challenges and inspires. He has been a student of the ideas of both Emanuel Swedenborg and George I. Gurdjieff for over thirty years. Read more about TheGodGuy, his books and his ideas at http://www.staircasepress.com
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4 Responses to The Angel and the Neuroscientist

  1. SWword says:

    Interesting…
    Yes…

    🙂

  2. thegodguy says:

    Dear SWword,

    That was only representative of a small taste (two verses) of the Infinite Wisdom contained in God’s Holy Word!

    Spiritually yours,
    TheGodGuy

  3. mariusmyburg says:

    Hi,

    Can you please tell me, where does this dialogue come from? I mean, is it a fictional account in order to illustrate a point, or was there an actual claimed account by neuroscientist “Fred”? Such accounts interest me, because people and religion and neuroscience all interest me greatly, so I would love to know where this story comes from.

    Thank you,
    Marius.

  4. thegodguy says:

    Dear Marius,

    The story is a fictional account to illustrate a point. However, inspiration for the story comes from my 35+ year study of brain scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg’s vast work on science and religion.

    He was the first to propose a neuron theory (brain cells and networks) as well as a multi-level cognitive model based on distinct qualities of Love. He claimed that the deepest substrate of the human brain and mind existed in the non-local and non-temporal realm of heaven. He also talked with angels!

    I suggest that you contact the Swedenborg Foundation for the best books that contain his dialogues with angelic beings and the Swedenborg Scientific Association for his works on the brain.

    I have encapsulated his vast scientific and theological works in my upcoming book “Proving God.” It will be available to the general public in Spring 2010. You may want to check my website for more info on the book at:
    http://www.staircasepress.com

    Spiritually yours,
    TheGodGuy

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