If one gazes inwards, he or she can readily acknowledge that the human memory presents a vista or landscape of information. We even say that this inner world of ideas is observed by the mind’s eye. The brain can see both objects of the external or physical world plus images of objects and ideas within our inner mental world!
The memory is more than just the sum of the contents of things we have viewed and experienced in the world. It is our worldview! This inner landscape reflects our values and belief systems.
Not only is everyone’s memory different, containing different information, this information is organized differently. We readily acknowledge that one’s ability to be rational and to understand something depends upon how well we can arrange (organize) information in our heads. This arrangement represents real and orderly structure – structure that is beyond direct scientific observation.
No magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of localized brain activity or mapping neural connections can explain how this information is organized in the brain. But one thing can be ascertained from our person-level experience. Our memory is organized according to our likes and dislikes.
In other words, what we love (volition and intention) operates in the cockpit of our intellect. Only since the late 1970s have brain scientists and psychologists sensed the importance of emotions and feelings to how cognitive processes work. This has spawned such books as The Emotional Brain and Molecules Of Emotion.
What is amazing is that 18th century scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg had formulated a multilevel cognitive theory of emotion (hierarchically organized) and its mechanisms! This model of cognitive function and its neural architecture even provides a broader person-level framework than that offered by current models in neuroscience. And finally, Swedenborg’s unique cognitive theory included religious experience and Bible interpretation (exegesis)!
Religious doctrine (God’s tenets) is specifically focused on influencing the inner landscape of the heart and mind and arranging the information in the human memory according to spiritual dictates and principles. Religion has acknowledged the importance of love and emotions to the human intellect long before science. That is why all the commandments hang on two laws—Love to God and love to the neighbor.
Imagine if the Garden of Eden in Genesis is actually a divinely inspired story of what happens when we allow God to create and re-organize our inner landscape!
That would be a real game changer for both neuroscience and theology!!!