You Must be Brain Deficient

OK, well, this explains a lot.

A researcher at Duke University has discovered what many secularists have been insisting all along: born-again believers have smaller brains than their liberal Christian counterparts.

Yonat Shimron of the Religion News Service, writing in USA Today (5/26/11) explains that "Protestants who did not have a 'born again' experience had significantly more gray matter than either those who reported a life-changing religious experience, Catholics, or unaffiliated older adults."

The study does not speculate as to whether the smaller brains are the cause of someone choosing to be born-again, or the consequence. Either way, we can count on hearing this study summarized from a wide array of apologists for the secular and relativist worldview.

Researchers think the smaller brain size may come from "the stress of belonging to a minority group." Except that this particular "minority group" doesn't appear to demonstrate as much stress as the rest of the population.

Still, we can expect this finding to be thrown in our teeth as a justification for not being born again and for discouraging others from doing so. With the increasing importance being put on brain science these days, this is just the kind of research which, in a society like the Soviet Union, would have been grounds for institutionalizing someone.

So we're brain-deficient. What does that tell us? Here's my take: Given the fact that, throughout history, many of the leading thinkers, artists, educators, writers, scholars, scientists, innovators, community and national leaders, and much more have been "born-again" types, there must be something more to what it means to be an exemplary human than merely gray cells.

The brain is an important organ, to be sure. But today's neuroscientists are wanting to make the brain the decisive and determinative factor in all human action.

But if born-again Christians have smaller brains than everyone else, how is it they have managed to accomplish and achieve so much?

Perhaps this research should be seen not as condemning Christians as brain deficient, but as opening the possibility that there are other, perhaps nonmaterial aspects to what it means to be a human being which are, if anything, more important than the physical organs we can see, feel, measure, and manipulate.

Maybe we do have souls, after all; and perhaps those who souls rest closest to King Jesus are the ones who make the most of their deficient brains for the benefit of their neighbors and the glory of God.

Just a brain-deficient thought for the end of the week.

Additional related texts: John 6.63; 1 Timothy 1.5; Philippians 2.12, 13

A conversation starter: "Did you know that born-again Christians have smaller brains than other people?"

T. M. Moore

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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