What Neuroscience Tells Us about Lenten Disciplines | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction

What Neuroscience Tells Us about Lenten Disciplines | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction.

As we are drawing close to the end of Lent this year, thoughts about the importance and usefulness of fasting are legitimate .
This article in Christianity Today argues that, according to neuroscience, fasting is doing much more to us than to have an impact on just the body or the spirit.

Here is a quote:

Neuroscience sheds light on how fasting and other spiritual disciplines work by training our subconscious mental processes. We think of ourselves as entirely the activity of our conscious thoughts. In reality, our brain has thousands of sub-conscious processes going on all the time. These processes are often pushing and pulling different ideas, concerns, or cravings into our consciousness. What this means is your conscious self is far less in control over who you are and what you do than you realize.  “We are not the ones driving the boat of our behavior,” says neuroscientist David Eagleman. “Who we are runs well below the surface of our conscious access.”

Fasting can train and shape these processes, giving us the ability to exert control over other desires. One study found that students who intentionally practiced good posture for two weeks showed significant improvement afterward on measures of self control. The ability to control our relationship to food is, of course, one of the most difficult of the disciplines. Self control is like a muscle; it can be exhausted by overuse, but it can also be strengthened with exercise.

Read the entire article at the link above.

Is Evil ‘Over’? You Wish…

Religious Dispatches has just published a very interesting article on the issue of evil in neuroscience. Here is the beginning of it:

“Is evil over?” asked Ron Rosenbaum at Slate last week. “Yes, according to many neuroscientists, who are emerging as the new high priests of the secrets of the psyche, explainers of human behavior in general.” Rightly, Rosenbaum questions the scientism of those who would declare that, since evil — whatever it may be — cannot be pinned down in any specific location or function of the brain, it must not be real.

The article points to a number of ways neuropsychology has been overinterpreted and oversold. Rosenbaum addresses the fetishizing of fMRI images, the ideology that conflates causation and correlation, and the shifting semantics — evil recast as “non-empathy” by one esteemed psychologist (echoing, interestingly, the traditional Christian understanding of evil as a privation). Continue reading “Is Evil ‘Over’? You Wish…”