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Superintendent Letter

Purposefully Wired

Would it shock you to know there is a group of researchers recruiting religious people for brain experimentation? The question of whether or not the brain is biologically "hardwired" for religion has captured the interest of researchers. This interest has blossomed into a field of study known as Neurotheology. Dr. Andrew Newberg, one of the leading researchers has become known as a pioneer in the field. He created a technique that captures photos of the human brain engaged in spiritual activity. His subjects are injected with a chemical that emits gamma rays. A computer is used to collect the information transmitted by the rays and construct an image of the brain. Dr. Newberg has used this technique, Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) to capture dozens of photos of 'spiritually' engaged brains. His subjects include a variety of religious affiliations and practices; Franciscan nuns praying, Tibetan monks meditating and Pentecostal Evangelicals speaking in tongues. Something interesting to note is that Dr. Newberg doesn't claim to have a particular religious affiliation of his own, yet his findings depict a strong defense of a biological, spiritual wiring in the human brain. In his book, How God Changes Your Brain? he states, "Religious experiences are not invisible. The common thread among spiritual practices is that while people engage in them, the lobes of their brains can be seen working together to create a powerful experience... The design of the brain allows it to easily engage in religious practices, thoughts and experiences." His work has given challenge to the reasoning - if thinking about God changes the way the brain works, there must be an inherent neural imperative to believe in God. Rhawn Joseph, another prominent neurotheologist describes the limbic system as being dotted with 'God neurons' and 'God neurontramitters'. And, after considering the research in light of genetics, Dean Hamer, PhD concluded that people are not only wired to believe in God but are genetically programmed to do so. The biological wiring that predisposes humans to seek a higher power beyond this physical world is becoming more and more difficult for Nuerotheologists to deny.

Christian's often refer to this 'soul longing' as an eternal compass, or a hole that only God can fill. The Apostle Paul addressed the subject in the first chapter of Romans speaking of God's invisible qualities hidden in creation. God has encoded each of us with a divine calling. Christian Philosopher James A.K. Smith puts it this way, "Discipleship is a holistic endeavor that includes our whole body in a process of formation that aims our desires, primes our imagination, and orients us to the world."

As a Christian discipleship school, we believe our role is to assist and encourage each student to identify their God given bent. To grow in their unique gifting and excel at life - living out their divine calling.

Serving the Master Teacher,

Janelle Detweiler
East Linn Christian Superintendent

Hardwired: Finding the God You Already Know
By James Miller

Given man's inability to sit still, we've consistently chosen to move in a certain direction. People make concrete decisions about what life is for, where it comes from, where it ends, and what should be done in the mean time. The choice of direction is a profound statement about the way the world is made. It says a lot about the hardwiring - humanity has always chosen to go in search of something supernatural.

Why that search begins is a curious thing. The standard skeptic attributes the religious instinct to the psychology of ancient people that somehow got wired into the genetic pool. The faithful believer might almost say the same: God is somehow written on the heart. Either way, there is growing consensus that we are biologically religious.

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