Defending the Faith: Mind and brain: Identical or distinct?


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  • desert Potsdam, 00
    Feb. 6, 2014 6:05 a.m.

    ...the children, for they are whole from the foundation of the world. (Moses 6)

    This scripture may lead us further into the anatomy of eternal beings, or so to say the very divine characteristics of our eternal destiny.

    The world might bring us closer to this idea, the truth behind all things, but staying on the mind will be a one dimensional ride, and I like to caution us not to count on salvation with scientific studies.

    Remember : ...And behold, ye do know of yourselves, for ye have witnessed it, that as many of them as are brought to the knowledge of the truth ((the mind))

    , and to know of the wicked and abominable traditions of their fathers ((bad habits))

    , and are led to believe the holy scriptures, yea, the prophecies of the holy prophets
    ((eternal principles,design and will of god))

    , which are written, which leadeth them to faith on the Lord, and unto repentance ((voluntary involvement of the free will))

    , which faith and repentance bringeth a change of heart unto them— ((until when is science to see the difference between the anatomical heart and the heart of our eternal nature ))

    (Helaman 15)

  • timpClimber Provo, UT
    Feb. 6, 2014 7:03 a.m.

    Experienced teachers will agree with this article. They have watched students who were not using much of their brain power find something interesting and get mentally engaged and mesh their will and mental abilities and become so motivated that they create far beyond their years or experience. They truly show that the mind has power over biological matter.

  • 1.96 Standard Deviations OREM, UT
    Feb. 6, 2014 7:22 a.m.

    "This new view is far more congenial to concepts of spirit, free will and life after death than was the science with which I was raised."

    That's for sure! Amen! Fascinating article. Great job, Brother Peterson.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    Feb. 6, 2014 9:24 a.m.

    Evidence is accumulating from both neuroimaging and clinical work pointing to a significance link between brain chemistry and religious experiences. At Johns Hopkins University, for example, research suggests that chemicals acting on the serotonin system resulting from religious activity trigger mystical experiences that can be life-altering.

    Religious programing, intense study of scriptures, engaging in prayer and meditation, or participation in religious ritual stimulate chemicals in the part of the brain where we rate the significance of events, which we then strongly internalize.

    This accounts for claims of why my church is truer than your church, or that God has told me you are wrong and I am right, or that I know God exists because my supernatural experience is too powerful to deny. The answer to my "Moroni promise" may be nothing more than the result of my brain chemistry and its neuronal activity.

    The brain is a fascinating, believing machine wired to trump reality. It accounts for why we have faith in things we cannot prove. The extraordinary differences in religious "truth" are indeed realities in the complex mind and brain of a believer.

  • desert Potsdam, 00
    Feb. 6, 2014 10:32 a.m.

    It could be another tower of Babylon to create a sure road for safe believes with signs of brain harmonic waves and happy faith built on the mind and the pharma industry.

    In my post above I was trying to make that point.
    That the mind and the heart are a seperate entity to what we would call body and brain.

    However, it has always been more safe and promising to take a hold of external support.
    Science is more popular than faith, since we can touch it and see it.
    The above post may show us what you may want to rely on.
    I would rather not.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    Feb. 6, 2014 11:07 a.m.

    The brain, in my opinion, is the tool of the mind.

    The brain is the computer and the mind is the user.
    The brain comes with a lot of programs but we choose which ones
    we use, and which we use most. We can re-program too, in my opinon.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Feb. 6, 2014 11:46 a.m.

    “Fortunately, the scientific enterprise (as a method, not as materialist ideology) allows for all of these possibilities, and infinitely more.”

    Yes, but this is a slippery slope many religious folks walk on that can quickly descend into decidedly unscientific beliefs and conclusions… we need to proceed with caution.

    And modern consciousness studies (scientific or philosophical) are far beyond the crude materialist/behaviorist assumptions of decades ago – even a strong materialist like Dan Dennett is more nuanced today than he was when first writing.

    For anyone interested, folks like John Searle and Owen Flanagan have written some good stuff (i.e., sound philosophy combined with current neuroscience).

    We should note however that it has never been demonstrated that a mind can exist independently of a physical brain.

    @ Weber State Graduate - “Evidence is accumulating from both neuroimaging and clinical work pointing to a significance link between brain chemistry and religious experiences.”

    So far the conclusion best supported by all the evidence is that the casual relationship is two-directional and not just one-directional as your statement implies

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Feb. 6, 2014 12:00 p.m.

    Pathological conditions demonstrate that mind depends on body. Alzheimer’s is one case in point that we’re all familiar with. Alcohol intoxication is another. So even if mind does have an existence that survives expiration of the body, what lives on might be something quite different than what one might envision.

    I’m fascinated with the power of imagination. That aspect of consciousness is one where both faith and reason have limitless boundaries to work with.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    Feb. 6, 2014 1:53 p.m.

    @Tyler D

    "So far the conclusion best supported by all the evidence is that the casual relationship is two-directional and not just one-directional as your statement implies."

    With all due respect, where is this so called two-directional evidence? I'm not aware of anyone with any credible ability to independently create authentic supernatural phenomena in a controlled environment, such as having angels appear in a lab, and then subsequently measuring and recording the neurochemical brain activity of test subjects.

    ...except perhaps in the movies.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Feb. 6, 2014 2:59 p.m.

    @Weber State Graduate – “With all due respect, where is this so called two-directional evidence?”

    Either you misunderstood my point or I yours…

    My point was simply that intentionality affects brain chemicals, so that even if brain chemicals are always correlated with, for example, mystical experience (not to be confused with angels appearing in a lab) that experience would not have occurred without the acting agent’s intentions prior to the associated brain chemicals – two-directional.

    If the casual relationship was only one-directional then such experiences would only happen either by accident (when those brain chemicals spontaneously generated) or by some outside intervention (e.g., taking a pill or an “act of God”).

    Perhaps you thought by “two-directional” I was referring to a supernatural realm… I was not.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Feb. 6, 2014 6:45 p.m.

    RE: John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word(logos) and the Word(logos) was with God and the Word(logos) was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made*= (Grk.1096 ginomai, receive being); without him nothing was made*that has been made*.

    God (Jesus) becomes man not man becomes God.

    RE: eternal principles,design and will of god.”

    Jer 1:5 Christians believe that God is omniscient, knowing everything about each person before birth. The emphasis is on God’s foreknowledge (“I knew thee”), not humanity’s knowing God.

    In Job 38:4, God rebukes Job, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?”

    Job 38:7 NIV …” and all the angels(sons)shouted for joy”.” In effect, God was reminding Job how Job wasn’t even in existence when the world was created.

    (Ecc 12:7)… the spirit shall return unto God who gave it .

    For in him we live and move and have our Being...(Acts 17:28).

    To affirm will is to compromise grace, Martin Luther. Is God sovereign or do we have a free will?

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Feb. 6, 2014 7:20 p.m.

    @Tyler D

    Please explain, near death experiences, after death experiences, out of body experiences. and especially little children death experiences and meeting [people they could not possibly have known,

    That is not explained by chemicals, and the physical brain not functioning.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    Feb. 7, 2014 7:19 a.m.

    @Tyler D

    Thanks for the clarification.

    @ the truth

    There has been some recent research that shows a neurophysiological basis for near-death experiences. In short, "gamma coherence" underlies conscious perception, such as when one focuses all their attention on understanding something. The coherence during death is more than two-fold higher than in a waking state. After cardiac arrest, there is a kind of hyper-consciousness in the brain, with all of the neurons acting together in far more coherence than normal.

    The evidence suggests that the brain is capable of well-organized electrical activity — specifically conscious processing — immediately following cardiac arrest. Rather than a truly transcendental experience, near-death visions may be linked to intense electrical surges that cause "hyper real" thoughts in our brain. After resuscitation, we have vivid and colorful recollections of the event.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Feb. 7, 2014 2:48 p.m.

    @Weber State Graduate

    While that is a nice "theory",

    There is no hard evidence that is what it is. The fact is there is a preponderance of experience that can not be accounted for by scientific theories.

    And the scientific theories are simply just a possibility and nothing more.

    And they certainly have no explanation for those children experiences I have mentioned.

    No amount of chemical or electrical activity can account for meeting people you don't know and could not know, Nor out of body experiences.

    only the existence of something separate from the physical body can account for that. Why is that so hard to accept?

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Feb. 7, 2014 4:20 p.m.

    the truth,

    "....No amount of chemical or electrical activity can account for meeting people you don't know and could not know, Nor out of body experiences....only the existence of something separate from the physical body can account for that. Why is that so hard to accept?"

    "....I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows." (2 Corinthians 12)

    If Saul of Tarsus himself didn’t know exactly what happened to the man he tells of, then uncertainty about the reality of mystical experience is obviously not limited to skeptical men of science.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Feb. 7, 2014 5:11 p.m.

    @the truth – “That is not explained by chemicals, and the physical brain not functioning.”

    If your point is that science should remain open to possibilities and investigate things that don’t fit neatly into the materialist paradigm, then I agree with you.

    If your point is science cannot (yet) explain some things therefore religion has the correct answer, then that is simply a leap in logic I can’t make… and for good reason.

    I’ve posted this many times but it’s often worth repeating. If we are looking for answers about facts in the natural world (and I include human experiences), what area of inquiry are we most likely to get the correct answers from? The following two questions are instructive:

    1.Name a fact about the natural world for which we once had a religious explanation that has since been superseded by a scientific explanation.

    2.Name a fact about the natural world for which we once had a scientific explanation but has now been replaced by a religious explanation.

    I hope it’s clear that the answers are “countless” and “none” respectively.

    Craig and Weber – excellent comments!

    Feb. 8, 2014 7:05 a.m.

    @Tyler D.

    Straw man. Your two questions are relevant only to those who misunderstand science, religion, or both.

    Science is concerned with the what, how, when, and where of things. Religion is concerned with the why. Science has known limits beyond which it cannot go. To propose that science has any chance of answering every question about the human experience is every bit as irrational as proposing "God did it" for every phenomenon one does not understand for the simple reason that there is much of human experience that lies beyond the reach and realm of science.

    Case in point: attributing near death experiences in which a clinically dead person meets and converses with people they could not have known in life, and learns things they could not have known, to a surge of electrical activity in the brain, is patently absurd. The correct answer, from the perspective of science, is "we don't know what is happening."

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Feb. 10, 2014 8:35 a.m.

    the truth

    What astounds me is that you claim that there is no proof of what Weber State Graduate said, but you provide no proof (none exists) that near death experiences are legitimate... You expect 'proof' from him that it is something else, yet you have no proof to back up your own opinion. Your opinion on near death experiences are just that - opinion. There is no scientific or any other basis for it other then what is in your mind.

    Simply, you find near death experiences most likely to be true, despite lack of evidence for it. I do it the other way around. I don't believe in it until I see proof.