Neuroscience

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    Brown, Warren S.

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    The Knotty Implications of Recent Neuroscience Research

    "In today’s lecture, I wish to start from the beginning. I will attempt to restate the problem in an unambiguous way, survey the current neuropsychological data that are making the issue particularly acute for 21st Century Christians, and suggest a method for going about resolution of these questions. In the last part of this lecture, I will describe some adjustments we might want to make in our theological anthropology in order to establish greater resonance between theology and neuroscience."
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    Brown, Warren S.

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    Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?

    "In this lecture I will be considering the following question: How is it possible for physicalism to avoid reductionism and biological determinism? Is it possible to give a reasonable account of free will within a physicalist understanding of human nature? I will try to defend the position that physicalism can be understood in a nonreductive way – that is, in a way that does not presume that all humanness can be reduced to 'nothing but' neurophysiology or the laws of physics, or that human behavior is entirely determined by physical laws."
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    Brown, Warren S.

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    Numinous or Carnal Persons? The Practical Costs of Inner Souls and Selves

    "How many essential substances am I composed of? Am I a body; a body and a soul; a body and a mind; a body, a mind, and a soul; or what about a body, a mind, a soul, and a spirit? These questions highlight the issue of dualism (or tri-part-ism or fourpart- ism) vs wholism (or monism). Another way to ask this question would be the following: Am I essentially numinous (i.e., a non-material spirit) or am I essentially carnal (i.e., a physical body). The answer one gives to this question is fundamental to almost every aspect of our understanding of human nature..."
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    Brown, Warren S. and Malcolm A, Jeeves

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    Portraits of Human Nature: Reconciling Neuroscience and Christian Anthropology

    "Integrating and reconciling the truth claims made by Christian theology is always challenging. Perhaps most problematic is the challenge presented by modern neurobiology Christian anthropology. Given the presumption that ‘truth cannot contradict truth’, it seems to be increasingly difficult to hold a traditional Christian view of persons in a world of modern neurobiology and neuropsychology. One is caught in the middle of a dilemma or paradox represented by the following contradictory propositions: Proposition 1: Humans are physical beings who also have non-material souls. It is through our souls that we experience and relate to God. Proposition 2: Humans are neurobiological beings whose mind (also soul, religious experience, etc.) can, in theory, be exhaustively explained by neurochemistry and ultimately by physics."
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    Clayton, Philip

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    Neuroscience, the Person and God: An Emergentist Account

    "Strong forms of dualism and eliminative materialism block any significant dialogue between the neurosciences and theology. The present article thus challenges the 'Sufficiency Thesis,' according to which neuroscientific explanations will finally be sufficient to fully explain human behavior. It then explores the various ways in which neuroscientific results and theological interpretations contribute to an overall theory of the person. Supervenience theories, which hold that mental events are dependent on their physical substrata but not reducible to them, are explained. Challenging the determinism of 'strong' supervenience, I defend a version of 'soft' supervenience that allows for genuine mental causation. This view gives rise in turn to an emergentist theory of the person."
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    Derry, Gregory N.

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    Synapse and Spirit: a New Look at Some Old Problems

    "The many interesting discoveries of modern neurophysiology and cognitive science pose a significant challenge to the view of humans as spiritual beings. On the basis of a growing understanding of the brain processes underlying what we usually call mind, assertions are made that would essentially eliminate any spiritual dimension from humanity that goes beyond poetry and metaphor to claim an ontologically real status...In this paper, I critically examine the issues involved in the mind/brain relationship within the context of a generalized complementarity framework that I have developed."
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    Dinis, Alfredo

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    Body, Soul and God: Philosophy, Theology and the Cognitive Sciences

    "The concept of a soul is not theological but rather philosophical. As a consequence, one may leave it out of the theological discourse. Concepts like ‘mind,’ ‘soul,’ ‘self,’ and ‘consciousness’ are not specifically theological concepts. They are rather philosophical concepts. Theology has over the centuries used such concepts to express some religious beliefs, but such beliefs do not have a necessary connection with those concepts and certainly not with the metaphysical meaning they have in some philosophical traditions. Today, however, it is the sciences, especially the cognitive sciences, that wish to clarify such concepts. In this task, they are most of the time against religious beliefs because such beliefs seem to be necessarily connected with those concepts. I want to argue that this is a mistake, and that most authors in the cognitive sciences are basing their analysis on misleading presuppositions. But it is also true that a new theology needs a new anthropology, one that is less dependent on the traditional metaphysics of Thomas Aquinas and more in line with a relational paradigm."
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    Gijsbers, Alan J.

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    The Dialogue between Neuroscience and Theology

    The mind and its relation to the brain is regarded by some as the next major frontier in science. This raises a number of issues about the traditional understanding of human beings and some specific challenges to Christian thinking. This paper reviews some of these issues without attempting to resolve them. It also suggests some fundamental principles derived from scripture that will help in the debate as it develops. The paper concludes: "Humans are a source of great wonder. The greater wonder is that we can wonder at that wonder! Humans are biopsychosocial beings firmly grounded in the physical, dependent on the environment, but reaching up into the world of God, who, in Christ, gave us life, love, purpose and meaning, and calls on us to live in a community of love with other humans."
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    Jeeves, Malcolm

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    Neuroscience, Evolutionary Psychology, and the Image of God

    "Almost daily we read media reports of scientific breakthroughs, often in neuroscience and evolutionary psychology, which, it is claimed, offer new insights into our mysterious human nature. Most of these reports present no direct challenge to widely held traditional Hebrew- Christian understandings of human nature. Others, however, seem directly to confront some of our most deeply held Christian beliefs about our nature. Beliefs reinforced as we sing some of our favorite hymns. Whilst references to the “image of God” are relatively infrequent in Scripture nevertheless the understandings of humankind which they enshrine are all pervasive...Acknowledging the persuasive current impact of neuroscience and neuro-philosophy this paper urges us to remember that biblical warrant and scientific evidence join in reminding us that central to our understanding of what it means to be a person is our psychosomatic unity. We know each other, not as brains ensheathed in bodies, but as embodied persons."
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    Jeeves, Malcolm

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    How Free is Free?: Reflections on the Neuropsychology of Thought and Action

    "It is widely recognised that some of the implications of rapid developments in neuroscience raise with a fresh urgency questions of human freedom and responsibility. These are issues for humanists and atheists as much as for Christians since all claim that their often deeply held beliefs were rationally considered and freely embraced. However, the evidence from bottom-up neuro-scientific research points to the ever-tightening links between brain processes and mental processes and have been interpreted by some as pointing to a reductionist view of human nature. At the same time, with the use of new brain imaging techniques the evidence for the efficacy of top-down processes also accumulates at an accelerating pace. This paper argues that there is an irreducible interdependence between cognitive and neural processes calling for a duality of description but without necessitating belief in a dualism of substances."
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    Newberg, Andrew B. Eugene G. d'Aquili et al.

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    The Neuropsychological Correlates of Forgiveness

    "Forgiveness is a complex neurocognitive and affective process that has multiple factes and has been increasingly recognized as an important aspect of psychotherapy and behavior change. However, a complete understanding of forgiveness requires knowledge of its underlying neuropsychological mechanisms, particularly those of the sense of self, a recognition of harm to the self, and revenge behavior. This, in turn, requires a review of the forgiveness process and its pheonomenology."
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    Siemens, David F.

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    Neuroscience, Theology, and Unintended Consequences

    "Most contemporary neuroscientists hold that soul or mind is no more than what emerges from complexly organized matter, that is, is strictly a function of brain. While not necessary, this view has been adopted by some evangelicals who seek current relevance. They, of course, have to posit a nonmaterial deity, something clearly not part of science. Their claims have been disputed on grounds of incompatibility with the resurrection, with spiritual beings, with free will, and with eternal life. None of these criticisms has noted an even more fundamental problem: nonreductive physicalism apparently makes the Incarnation impossible."
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    Thorson, Walter R.

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    An I Behind the Eye: Donald MacKay's Gifford Lectures

    "Behind the Eye is based on Donald M. MacKay's Gifford Lectures, given October-November 1986 at Glasgow under the title 'Under our own microscope: What brain science has to say about human nature.' Donald MacKay died in February 1987: the book, taken from transcripts of the Gifford Lectures and augmented in a few places with other relevant material from the author, was edited posthumously at his request by his wife and frequent co-worker, Valerie MacKay. (Explanatory comments by the editor to clarify points in the text appear occasionally and are set off in italics.) While the enormous difficulties of posthumous publication have left occasional traces, in the end they are minor, and in such places careful reading nearly always makes the meaning plain."
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    Trenn, Thaddeus J.

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    If the Spiritual Soul Were Beyond the Scope of Physicalism

    "Since neuroscience cannot reach beyond its own inherent limits, considerable caution is required when drawing conclusions that bear existential import. In particular, the findings of neuroscience could never offer compelling justification for a summary dismissal of the innermost self or for remaining remote from Christ. When it comes to one's eternal salvation, therefore, each person must ultimately decide whether to abide in Christ with deep faith or prefer to seek solace from science. Our modern world has provided us with a perilous choice indeed."