Sunday, March 23, 2008

Mr Bagehot

Mr Bagehot's excellent journal has printed a most interesting article this week, reporting how science has taken the work of Mr Darwin and proposes to take it as far as the altar and the ministrations of the priest. It seems that scientists intend to study the workings of the human brain itself with a view to finding the habitation of God.

Now I once had many harsh things to say about the eminent Mr Darwin, although, as is often in the case of religion, it was often his disciples who took his conclusions further than even his science would warrant and created hypotheses on shaky foundations, nay, on shifting sand. Foremost amongst these was the notion of the "ascent of man", that through biology alone man could evolve into perfect creatures. Sadly, it seems, mankind has been disillusioned of such hopes within the last century, even though there may still be those who believe that science can achieve what biology cannot achieve, and reshape mankind in the form of gods.

Indeed, taking the luxury of retrospect, I now see I may have dismissed Mr Darwin in haste for in depicting mankind as no more than an animal, he set out the propositions held by the Christian church for two centuries; that we are bound by flesh and the world in which we live and can only achieve righteousness through the work of the risen Christ, whom we have celebrated on this great day.

This digression leads me to the article in the Economist, which reveals how science plans to find the seat of the Holy Spirit. The early findings however have counfounded the simple theories of the irreligious; for it seems faith is not just seated in the regions of emotion and ecstasy. Indeed when the faithful were asked to recite the 23rd Psalm, regions of rationality and calculation were excited within the brain.

Let me therefore assist the scientists with their work. For we are not gnostics and the Church rejected gnosticism at an early age, stating that the human spirit remains within the body, not apart from it. When we are transformed by the power of Christ, our flesh itself is transformed and therefore our mental processes. There are times when to worship God will indeed excite joy and all our emotions; at other times we hand our minds over to the spirit of Christ. To pray and to meditate on the scriptures is to achieve a calmness, a stillness of mind and spirit; and within those once tempestuous waters, within the place where storms once raged, the spirit of Christ does His work. I may seek wisdom or words to speak; the spirit will deliver them. Others may seek ecstasy. In some sects, other, incomprehensible languages are sought as a means of worship; they are extracted from the brain's fleshly, biological processes.

It therefore seems likely that the scientists will find the spirit of the Christ at work throughout all regions of the brain. I do not say to them do not do your work - I have learnt in the space of two centuries to respect the work of science. I do say to them not to believe they have found more than can be found from any respectful conversation with a diverse group of believers.

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