The Rational Brain
From my sermon “Take Up Your Cross” – “The fact that Plato considered the ‘intellect’ to be a part of the soul suggests to me that we are talking about the Triune Brain. Plato understood that a person is more than his intellect.
I don’t claim to be a Plato scholar, but these three parts of the ‘psuche’ that he describes are clearly related to the Rational Brain, The Feeling Brain, and the Reptile Brain. Thus his meaning is similar to that of the late-Hebrew term – the ‘nephesh’ – the living, breathing, functional person – the person guided by his Rational Brain, his Reptile Brain, and perhaps most important, his Feeling Brain.
When Jesus says, “Love one another as I have loved you.” He is calling upon the most important part of our personhood – the Feeling brain. And when he asks, ”What shall it profit a person if he gain the whole world and lose his own psuche?”, he is talking about the Feeling Brain.
If you keep up with world events, you have come to realize that there are people out there who worship the god of Success. These people have been trained by their parents and by their schools that Success is everything, and that failure is unforgivable.
To this end, they teach that the Rational Brain is everything, and that the Feeling Brain must be left to wither. Their goal in life is to ‘gain the whole world’. Since they have stifled their Feeling Brain, they feel no empathy for those whom they trample on their way to ‘success’. We need to know this. We also need to know enough about the Feeling Brain to know that it must be cultured and nurtured like the precious treasure it is. In it we have our psuche – our soul, and it requires even more nourishment than the mortal body does.
And what does the Lord require of us, Micah asks, “But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” We weren’t born knowing what it means to ‘do justice, or to ‘love kindness’, or to ’walk humbly’. We learn these things slowly and painfully, first at our parents’ knees, then in Sunday School, and church, and finally in the School of Life.
It is in this School of Life that we learn that this Physical World has many exciting pleasures to offer us. This physical world promises us ‘all the kingdoms of the world, and all the splendor of them’, but we will find that, like Faust, we have to surrender our souls in exchange for what the world has to offer. From my sermon, “Take Up Your Cross”.
Paul speaks of the ‘wisdom of God’ in contrast to the ‘wisdom of the world’. What does he mean by ‘the wisdom of the world’? He means all that we have in our Rational Brains. Everybody has something in their Rational Brain, some more than others, but Paul wants us to concentrate on what he calls ‘the wisdom of God’ – what I what I would call the Feeling Brain.
We don’t have to know where it is, or even that it has a scientific basis; all we have to know is that it is the most important part of our whole person, and that we must treasure it as a ’pearl of great value’.
Jesus is saying to us, cultivate this portion of your nephesh – your psuche, and you will become the whole person that God intended you to be. Neglect it, and your whole person will surely die and will truly return to the dust from which it was made.
The Rational Brain does not dismiss ‘the wisdom of the world’ as casually as Paul did.
“The condemnation of knowledge implied in this story established a policy that was generally–but not always– followed by the other biblical writers. That policy was to discourage and even sometimes to condemn the acquisition of knowledge. Perhaps no single biblical writer ridiculed knowledge any more than the apostle Paul, who is considered by many scholars to be the real founder of Christianity. His strongest denunciation of knowledge was made in his first letter to the Corinthian church:
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but to us who are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent." Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness. But unto them who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty; and the base things of the world that are despised has God chosen, yes, and things that are not, to bring to nothing the things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence (1:18-29).
From The Skeptical Review: 1995: Number Two: “Ever since Paul penned this statement, Bible believers have used it to justify every form of ignorance imaginable. If anyone dares suggest that the idea of a human sacrifice for the vicarious atonement of the sins of mankind is ridiculous, the Christian will merely see this as proof that his belief is right. "Yes," he will say, "that is exactly what Paul said. It pleased God to save the world through the foolishness of preaching. You can't understand it because you seek after worldly wisdom, but God chose the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and this is exactly what has happened to you. You have allowed the wisdom of the world to blind you to the truth. God's wisdom is greater than man's wisdom, and when you understand that, you will understand why the sacrifice of his son for the sins of mankind was necessary."
We do dismiss the Biblical Miracles, and anything else that could not have happened.
We dismiss the Biblical Myths as true stories, but we cling to the biblical truths they contain.
We acclaim as the truth, the fact that Compassion is central to most religions, and that it especially important in the Christian Faith. Compassion has only appeared in the male of the human race in the last few hundred years, and then only as the weak and tentative infant that it is. Most Christians hailed this as a great triumph for the faith, although we could not know the mechanics of this development. We now know that this great human achievement was a product of the Feeling Brain. We now know that it must be cultivated for it to move our culture ahead. If it is not cultivated – if it is deliberately stifled as it is in this Materialistic World, then the human race is not going to grow – and that can be our doom. The Rational Brain has developed Weapons of Mass Destruction that can destroy this planet and everything in it, within a few days. And The Rational Brain does not know why it shouldn’t do this.
Who trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation's final law
Though Nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shrieked against his creed.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson in Memoriam
At least we know for a fact that the basis for our faith is well-grounded. And we know that Evil is real, and that the struggle between Good and Evil is a struggle for everything that we hold dear.
Karen Armstrong groups Auschwitz and Hiroshima as examples of massive Evil. Has humanity come to terms with such a concept? I see no evidence of it. A few feeble voices like Fr John Dear are heard, but there is no public outcry that would be heard if Hiroshima and Nagasaki really registered. To the world, these are just events – of no significance. We fret about Iran and N Korea having possibly one nuclear weapon each, while we have hundreds, and a madman has his finger on the trigger. What are we to believe, except that Satan is winning the battle.
What I have tried to do with the sermon (Satan Shall Have You), is to address the problem of Theodicy – If God is all-powerful, why does Evil exist?
I suggest that God may not be all powerful after all. The biblical basis for this concept is shaky. I use the biblical concept of Satan and the devil to account for Evil. I clarify what constitutes Evil, and contrast it with Good.
The Feeling Brain does not require the rigorous logic of the Rational Brain, therefore the Feeling Brain can accept the concept of Satan as Prince of Darkness, and instigator of Evil, just as easily as it can accept the concept of God as the promoter of Good. But, since the heart of the Christian has no room for vindictiveness, his heart has no room for the concept of Hell, or any other punishment. Since early times, Liberals have taught that separation from God was punishment enough.