Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

Index by Subject

In the News: Can Science Explain the Heart of Man?

Image Today I was asked a question about how the Bible refers to the seat of emotions, intellect and will to be the heart of man. Passages such as, “I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And I will glorify Your name forevermore” (Psalm 86:12), use the metaphor. While we know the actual physical heart is a muscle that pumps blood, and that it is the brain that is the physical organ of thought and emotion, men have commonly referred to the heart in this poetic way.

I pointed out that using the word “brain” to refer to will, emotions and intellect of man is a metaphor as well. While it is true that the brain is the physical organ that regulates these things, it is a mistake to equate the brain with the mind. The truth is much more complex than that. To reduce such things as love, artistic expression, inspiration, genius and faith to the biological firing of synapses is to distort the essence of what it is to be a human being. Such reductionism is found in the efforts of some secular scientists who believe (as the term reductionism is defined) “that every complex phenomenon, especially in biology or psychology, can be explained by analyzing the simplest, most basic physical mechanisms that are in operation during the phenomenon.”

I recently came across an article titled, How your brain makes moral judgments.” In this article, the author admits that, “Science is still trying to work out how exactly we reason through moral problems…” With one researcher asserting that neuroscience is “a field that’s waiting for a big revolution sometime soon.” While it may be possible to explain what portion of the brain is firing it’s synapses when a moral decision is contemplated, or to show where sociopaths brains do not act in the same way, neuroscience will never be able to adequately explain the process of morality. Some questions science is not equipped to answer. These things come under the auspices of what men call “metaphysics”, and the Bible refers to as “faith.”

A worldview that tries to explain morality, emotion and will without referencing the Divine is missing out on the most fundamental and foundational aspect of the issue. We are who we are because of Jehovah. God made man in his “own image” (cf. Genesis 1:27). The totality of man is far more than the sum of his biological parts.

We continually hear the protest that the Bible is not a scientific textbook, and that religion should not be taught in science classes. I understand the objection. However, it is equally objectionable for scientists to maintain their ability to explain and quantify faith, love and the will of man. Such things can’t be fully understood through the empirical process.

Consider the following example. In Galatians 5:16-18, Paul wrote, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” Science can not account for the Holy Spirit, ergo science is inadequate to explain this elemental conflict that rages within every man.

Science may be able to reveal many important truths to the benefit of man, but science is incapable of fully explaining and quantifying his heart.