COMPASSION IS NATURAL
Neuroscience with Dr. Caroline Leaf
We have all seen those commercials on TV that show children suffering and in pain, which are designed to appeal to our “humanity” for support.
It is natural to feel compassion for others. It is unnatural not to. God has put compassion into our nature, so our natural compassion is a reflection upon the character and compassion of God.
Dr. Caroline Leaf said about Empathy, “We have ‘mirror neurons’ that fire up as we watch someone else laugh or cry or drink a cup of coffee.” “We have been hardwired to experience powerful compassion for others, and this compassion crosses all three worlds: sensory, electromagnetic, and quantum.” (Switch on Your Brain, pg. 112).
I knew this truth from my own experiences, going back to when I was a child seeing others being bullied on the playground. I was always moved by compassion to help them. And I have seen this in my children, when my 2 year old shows compassion for our crying baby.
This is all very far from the sinful, evil, human nature that Calvinists preachers paint humanity, even babies, to have.
Of course, I get my theology from the Bible, not neuroscience or genetics, but I am glad that there are some in those fields who show that science confirms what the Bible teaches, especially on the issue of free will and personal responsibility.
Again Dr. Caroline Leaf said, “Our genetic makeup fluctuates by the minute based on what we are thinking and choosing… You control your genes; your genes do not control you. Genese may determine physical characteristics but not psychological phenomena. On the contrary, our genes are constantly being remodeled in response to life experiences… Our choices become physiology, and what we believe as well as what we believe about ourselves alters the facts. We are not victims of our biology. We are co-creators of our destiny alongside God.” (p. 50-53)
What she says about the genes, known as epigenetic, shows how we do have a free will in regards to our character and conduct. She explains the same for neuroscience, how we wire and rewire our brain by the choices we make, known as neuroplasticity.
“So neuroplasticity can operate for us as well as against us, because whatever we think about the most will grow – this applies both to the positive and negative ends of the spectrum.” (p. 63)
It used to be that neuroscientists and geneticists taught that free will was an illusion. But not anymore.
Good theology is being supported by good Christian science.
“The sins of parents create a predisposition, not a destiny. You are not responsible for something you are predisposed to because of ancestral decisions. You are responsible, however, to be aware of predispositions, evaluate them, and choose to eliminate them.” (p. 59-60)
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