Can You Quantify Faith?
Dr. Andrew Newberg, a neuroscientist, wants to track and quantify the way our brains process spirituality. He basically wants to know if we were created to believe in God. And his research is out to prove this hard-wiring of the brain scientifically. It’s all part of a new field called neurotheology. While it’s not a class that I have seen on the course schedule at the seminary I attend, I would be tempted to take it if it were.
It isn’t too much of a stretch to think that God created our brains with the capability to believe in Him. The great Creator of the universe knows even the smallest details of our existence, for it is He that knit us together. It is He that made us remarkably and wonderfully. And God certainly created the way in which our brains function.
But following this train of thought too far might diminish who God is. Newberg’s research is leading him to draw the conclusion that there may be universal aspects of the human mind that make it easier for us to believe in a power greater than ourselves.
Taking this conclusion to its ultimate end is somewhat problematic. We as humans can do nothing to attain the free gift of grace. It is God who initiates our salvation. We choose to accept his Son, Jesus Christ, but it is the Holy Spirit who instigates this process, not our own brains.
Our own minds are flawed. It is a perfect God who saves. And while there may be some validity to the “science” of faith, we cannot pretend that we will ever comprehend God’s love for us through a series of brain scans. Our own minds will create idols that lead us far from the Truth. There is no way our own efforts can lead to the correct belief in God. You need to look no father than the 10,000 different religions across the globe to see that people are indeed searching, but their own efforts are leading them astray. We like sheep will always go astray without the Lord guiding us.
God is holy; we are not. God is perfect; our minds are flawed. Neurotheology or not – we will never truly quantify faith simply because it isn’t derived here in the physical realm. It rather comes from an infinite God who is not bound by time, space, or science.