Shaping the Human Soul, Part 2
Note: In Washington DC, Church of the Advent has teamed up with The Trinity Forum to offer an exciting series of lectures exploring the synergy between modern science and Christian Faith. We are pleased to share the recent presentation given by psychiatrist Curt Thompson and philosopher James K.A. Smith. Together they discussed the process of Christian discipleship and spiritual formation through the lens of neuroscience.
In this 5-part video series, we began with Curt Thompson. His presentation concludes here in Part 2, and it will be followed by James K.A. Smith in parts 3 and 4.
Summary of the second half of Dr. Thompson's presentation
It is a curious thing that we living in an age that pays so much attention to neuroscience. Why is it such a hot topic?
We live in a world that comes to understand itself through a particular story. These days, the story is seen predominantly through the lens of modernism (science is a huge portion of that), even as post-modernism is upon us. So we come to understand everything through whether or not it’s right, whether it’s been thoroughly researched. But we also have to recognize that the way we tell stories shapes how we understand the very research that we are looking at.
What if the predominant way that I tell a story is through the lens of the biblical narrative: through redemption, creation, trouble, regeneration, and consummation? What if that becomes the new norm of the story that I tell? It changes how we understand science forever. Sooner or later we come to understand that ultimately we’re not talking about stuff, we’re talking about relationships. The biblical narrative suggests that life is about relationships. In the end, you don’t just have science, you have scientists. You don’t just have faith, you have people of faith. The very relationships we build ultimately shape what we are doing.
What does this mean practically? If my mind is going to be changed and shaped, it is going to be shaped not just by raw data, but by everything relationally that I take in. When I go to church, I’m going to be far more impacted by the things my right-brain takes in: the things I see, the things I feel and sense—more so than just the sermon that I hear in a logical, linear progression. This raises two huge questions:
- What is the story in which you believe you live?
- How does the particular culture that we construct change the way that our mind is renewed?
My hope is for us to pay attention to imagination, because the way that we imagine our story ultimately shapes the reality that we live in. In the end, it’s not really about conflicts between faith and science, it’s really about people.
Dr. Curt Thompson is a psychiatrist in private practice in Falls Church, Virginia, and founder of Being Known, which develops teaching programs, seminars and resource materials to help people explore the connection between interpersonal neurobiology and Christian spirituality which lead to genuine change and transformation. He is also author of Anatomy of the Soul.