Podcast: Can Christians Embrace God and Science? (Brad Sickler)

This article is part of the The Crossway Podcast series.

Bridging Cognitive Science and Theology

In this episode, Brad Sickler discusses how Christians should think about recent developments in our understanding of the brain and cognitive science. He explains why all science entails philosophical assumptions stemming from a person's worldview, highlights how science and the Bible both speak to the physical and spiritual dimensions of what it means to be human, and answers the question we've all wondered: Is it true we only use 10% of our brains?

God on the Brain

Brad Sickler

Bradley Sickler provides a timely theological, scientific, and philosophical assessment of the human brain, displaying the many ways in which the gospel informs a distinctly Christian understanding of cognitive science.

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Topics Addressed in This Interview:

01:38 - What Is Cognitive Science?

Matt Tully
Brad, thank you so much for joining us today on The Crossway Podcast.

Brad Sickler
It's good to be here. Thanks for having me.

Matt Tully
I was doing a little bit of reading about you before we sat down here today, and you seem to be a man of many interests. Looking at the lists of things that you've published, or contributions you made to books, is pretty telling. One article, I think, was “Laws of Nature and God's Existence.” Another particularly interesting one: “Must Immortality Be Tedious?”Those of us who have pictured all of us sitting on clouds have maybe wondered about that. There's a dictionary entry on Pascal's wager, and then a lecture entitled “Could a Better God Have Made a Better World?” And that's just a few examples. I guess my question is, What's behind such an eclectic set of professional interests?

Brad Sickler
That's a good question, and I think a shrewd and accurate observation—I have many interests, and I've always been a curious person. I've always been a wide reader. I was listening to talk radio in sixth, seventh grade. My friends were talking about music, and I was talking about what I had listened to on the radio the night before. I bounced around a lot as a college student between different majors. I ended up majoring in physics and tried a few different things along the way too, including medieval English literature, I considered teaching Spanish, piano performance, and chemical engineering is how I started out. So, I wandered around a lot. It took me a long time to figure out where I belonged, and that was really in the world of philosophy. Part of what I like about philosophy is we put our nose into everybody else's business, and by its nature, it's a very comprehensive, all-inclusive kind of field. After I got my physics major and decided not to pursue that, I went to seminary and got interested in philosophy in particular. I thought I would maybe pursue theology, but definitely wanted to go into the academic world. I ended up getting a PhD in philosophy, and I have done a lot on philosophy of science because of my background and my own interest in science. Again, when I was a youngster, for my birthday I would ask for a subscription to Scientific American and Discover magazines. So when I was in middle school and high school that was my hobby, along with reading fantasy. So yeah, I've always had an eclectic collection of tastes, but the problem of evil is something that I've dealt with a lot, and other issues are about science and the faith and how they connect and how they intersect. Most of what I do ends up having, from my perspective anyway, a kind of apologetic approach. I want to help people understand their faith and that it's reasonable and be able to present it and make a case for it in other contexts. When I see a problem or challenge, I like to try to bring a biblical perspective aided by some philosophical reflection and maybe some scientific background in addressing that and equipping people to think through it.

Matt Tully
Most recently you've done some work on the intersection of recent developments in cognitive science—brain science—and faith—what it means to be religious and have faith in God. Can you briefly define what we mean by “cognitive science”? What is that?

Brad Sickler
It's a broad, multi-disciplinary approach. Sometimes I use the word maybe a little more loosely than other people might like it, but we can think of it as all things related to how we think. There are other aspects of studying and talking about the brain. You can think about it just neurologically—just as a mechanical system in how the parts interact; and you can think about it psychologically. Cognitive science is more in the vein of trying to think about how we think and how we get to where we're thinking. That, of course, is going to have connections to all of the other underlying fundamental structures of the brain as well. So, cognitive science integrates psychology, neuroscience, and even to some extent theology or philosophy too.

06:19 - The Broad Scope of Philosophy

Matt Tully
That's the interesting thing about philosophy—you mentioned how that has been an interest of yours. It seems like with all of these different fields, even the scientific fields, the more you dig in the more you see that there are philosophical foundations to each of these. We all come to these different fields, even purportedly evidentiary types of fields, with philosophical assumptions.

Brad Sickler
You are totally singing my song. That is exactly how I see things. If you take something like A Brief History of Time for example, there's a book that people would say, Well, that's science. It's cosmology

Matt Tully
That was written by Stephen Hawking.

BS:
Right. Most of the really interesting things in that book—the things that get people talking and the things that get people reading the next chapter—are really philosophical or theological reflections on the science. They're not actually what the science itself says. If you restrain what you call science to the observation and classification of data, then that calls for reflection. And the reflection, in my opinion, is where a lot of the interesting stuff happens. When I said I was a physics major earlier, part of the reason I got interested in that and left engineering to go into physics is because I was interested in what I now understand are the philosophical issues. So, modern physics, starting in 1905, with relativity—special and general—they both bring a whole set of really interesting questions. And the thing is, in the early twentieth century, those physicists understood how much of what they were doing was philosophical. Einstein even said if it weren't for his interest and background in philosophy, he probably wouldn't have had the cognitive equipment to generate some of the interesting theories that he did. And quantum mechanics is the same way. You have these very bizarre things going on, whether it's duality—the wave–particle duality—or whether it's the observation effect or whether it's entanglement, action at a distance, quantum mechanical tunnelling—all these different things—really call for all kinds of philosophical interpretation because they're so bizarre. And that's what hooked me. It wasn't until many years later that I realized what I really liked wasn't the math or the computations, it was thinking about these philosophical questions.

08:49 - Science vs. Philosophical Interpretation

Matt Tully
What's so fascinating to me is that many of the prominent scientists—I think of someone like Bill Nye or Neil deGrasse Tyson who are secular scientists and thinkers who are prominent in pop-culture—they seem to be pretty down on philosophy. They sometimes very explicitly degrade philosophy as an endeavor and say, No, scientific process and method is really the only way to find truth.

Brad Sickler
Yes, that's totally right. I completely agree. In the mid-twentieth century, there was really an experimental turn, when the foundation of a lot of these issues had been put in place, and then it just became about experimenting. Can we verify these predictions? Can we build massive particle accelerators? Can we probe deep into space? Can we figure out if some of the things that we're saying lead to testable predictions that we can verify? There was a turn away from that, and Richard Feynman, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, used to very disparagingly say “Philowwwwsophy.” And he would say it like that—with clear disdain—because he thought that was just polluting the real science. But, every philosopher of science knows that science is loaded with all kinds of philosophical assumptions. Again, like I said, in my opinion, most of the interesting things that come out of modern scientific speculation are really philosophical. You raised Neil deGrasse Tyson as an example, and I think he's a great example of somebody who takes the data and then tells you what it means without telling you that that's what he's doing—or maybe without even knowing that that's what he's doing. He gets a lot of the history wrong on this too; but for example, he would say, Back in the bad old days when people were stupid—those are not his words, those are mine—

Matt Tully
That's kind of the thrust of what he's saying.

Brad Sickler
Right. He would say, In the old days, people thought that we must be important, and they thought that the cosmos was created to be a habitable home for us where we could learn to know and love God. Now we know that the universe is not anything like that. It's trying to kill us. It's indifferent to us. It's a hostile place. We are insignificant within it. You think about that and have to ask, What are you drawing that conclusion from? One of the things he points to is how vast the cosmos is. Sure, it's vast. It's mindbogglingly vast. We can't conceive of how vast it is. If you take our solar system and shrink it down so you can put it in a teacup, just our galaxy, in comparison, will be as big as North America. And that's just our galaxy. There are 100 billion galaxies. He's right that it's mind-blowing how big it is. Should we conclude from that that we are insignificant accidents? That's a philosophical inference, isn't it? So, first of all, people have always known it was really big. Ptolemy said that the distance between the Earth and the nearest star was so vast that you could treat the Earth as a mathematical point, which means of no size whatsoever. So, they've always known it was big. But think about it like this: what is most of that vast space composed of? The answer is, either nothing; or maybe balls of hydrogen and helium; or maybe balls of rock. What, in all of that which we're aware of, is anything like us? What else out there in the cosmos is reflecting on the cosmos? What else out there is reflecting on its place in the cosmos? That seems, to me, to make us extremely special—maybe even more special than if it was just a small, little neighborhood that we lived in. If we learned that not only are we special on this little planet but we're special within our solar system—as far as we know—our galaxy and our universe itself, we know of nothing else like us. That seems, to me, that it makes us more special, not less. But, that's philosophical interpretation. That's not science.

13:10 - What Determines Personhood?

Matt Tully
In your book you talk about this quote from C. S. Lewis that had a big impact on your decision to really dig into this issue in particular—the science of cognition and how our brains relate to faith and religion. I just want to read this quote from Lewis, and then see if you can comment on it:

”If minds are wholly dependent on brains, and brains on bio-chemistry, and bio-chemistry (in the long run) on the meaningless flux of the atoms, I cannot understand how the thought of minds should have any more significance than the sound of the wind in the trees . . .”

What's Lewis getting at with that?

Brad Sickler
He's challenging the reduction of human nature to bags of atoms, random collections—collocations—of atoms. He says other things in that longer context about where do you fit mind into a reductionist materialist view of the cosmos like that. You can't do it. You end up throwing the baby out with the bath water. When you reduce a human to a machine or an animal, in doing that you undermine everything that is uniquely human—our moral sense, our religious sensibilities, our experience of freedom and choice. All of those things have to go, they have to disappear. The possibility of science itself has to go because science depends on us having dependable, cognitive faculties. But if those cognitive faculties are just the result of uncaring, unplanned, random processes, then we don't have any grounds for having confidence in them. Therefore, we don't have any grounds for trusting the conclusions that we draw from them. One of the things he says is that in arguing along those lines, what the atheist ultimately does is he undermines his own atheism.

Matt Tully
How so?

Brad Sickler
Because they are drawing a conclusion with faculties that they have already shown are unreliable. They tell you that the water is poisoned, and then they ask you to drink it. If the atheist picture of human nature is right, we don't have any confidence that we can arrive at the truth. We don't have any confidence that our faculties are aimed at producing true beliefs. So, we would be foolish to trust any of the conclusions that those cognitive faculties arrive at—like, that there is no god. If atheism is true, we would never be able to have confidence in our belief that atheism is true. It undermines its own case.

16:00 - Are the Brain and the Body Connected?

Matt Tully
Fascinating. One thing that's always really intrigued me ever since I first encountered these different examples are these experiments that have been done over the years related to the brain, and often done with people who have suffered some kind of brain injury. It kind of gets to the issue of are we spiritual beings where we have physical bodies and also souls, or are we just—as the atheistic materialist would say—just bodies, just bags of cells? In these experiments, people have had brain injuries; and then on the other side of the injury, they've had radically different personalities, or they've all of the sudden had frustration problems where they get angry super easily and they lash out and they can't seem to control their temper anymore. The result of these studies has been that there seems to be some sort of physical, biological connection to behaviors and attitudes and habits that seem to have a strong ethical or moral or even spiritual dimension to them. So, how do you view those kinds of examples where it seems like that might suggest that what we view as mind or soul or spirit are actually really connected to our physical brains?

Brad Sickler
That's a great question, and I think it's one of the main challenges to think about if you are a dualist like me and you believe that we're spiritual beings. One of the famous examples was a guy named Phineas Gage who had a railroad spike blown through his head, which would normally kill a person, but he survived. However, everyone noted that he had formerly been a calm, gentle, and fairly pious person, and he became irascible and foul-mouthed and foul-tempered. They now look back on that—if you ever take a psychology class or something like that, you might study this—they'll say, Well, the following parts of his brain were damaged by the spike that blew through his head . . . and those are connected to emotion regulation and things like that. They'll map it onto that. But, one thing I would point out is the details—we have really, really dug down into the details of these things—the fact that different parts of the brain are connected to different mental functions is not new, and it, in fact, has been known for thousands of years. The Greeks, for example, who liked war—and the Romans, the same thing—if you think about the way combat was done in those days—very close quarters, lots of hard knocks to the head—they had drawn correlations between damage to different parts of the head and subsequent loss of function or even subsequent personality changes. We sometimes have these prejudices against the old days when people didn't know anything, but they had already drawn on that. Other minor changes also happen. We know now that we can give somebody lithium, for example, and that might help with some kind of psychotic episode they're having; or a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor might affect their depression or anxiety—an SSRI. We now have much sharper understanding of that, and we can operate on brain tumors and predict that you may have difficulty remembering or orienting yourself spatially because of where the tumor was. So we have a much more detailed picture. But the big picture—that there's a connection between our mental life and our brain—is not something new. Think of the old Roman expression, In vino veritasIn wine, there is truth. Or think of the proverb that says, “Wine is a mocker, and beer is a brawler” (Prov. 20:1). What they're picking up on and what they understood was that if you ingest these things, it's going to change your body; and by changing your body, it changes your mental states—it changes your mind. Even in the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament, if you think about it that way, they're perceiving a connection between what happens in your body—the presence of wine or beer for example—and what happens in your brain. It makes you a mocker; it makes you a brawler; your mental life is affected. So, observant people have always known that the state of our body and the state of our brain are connected. We've always known about the effect of hormones—even if they weren't understood as hormones—on mood; or the effect of hunger on mood; the effect of fatigue on mood, which is why when Elijah was so distraught, the Lord gave him food and rest because that's how you address those. So we don't want a primitive view of the relationship between mind and body the way that sometimes Plato described it—a hand in a glove or a carpenter using a tool or a musician using an instrument. In those kinds of cases, the mind is not integrated with the body. It is just kind of within it and manipulating it from the outside without itself being part of it.

Matt Tully
Sort of like a man in a machine.

Brad Sickler
Yes. And that man in a machine—or Gilbert Ryle's “ghost in the machine”—which is obviously a very insulting way of trying to talk about dualism. If you think about René Descartes—a French philosopher who wrote about the relation between mind and body in a lot of his works in the seventeenth century—the way he talks about it is to say we should not think of ourselves as a captain in a ship. If you think about a captain in a ship, if the ship hits a reef, the pilot looks down and sees the damage and perceives it, but doesn't feel anything. That doesn't cause pain. Descartes said the Christian way of thinking about us as humans—and he's drawing on centuries of scholastic Christian philosophy and theology—is as an integrated unit of material and immaterial, of physical and spiritual. There is a conceptual distinction between mind and brain; but while we're embodied, you can't just pull the mind out of the brain or of the body. We are an integrated unit. So that kind of integrated dualism is what I believe is most biblical and most philosophically defensible. It also makes perfect sense of all of the brain science that we know. There is mental to physical and physical to mental causation; and because we are an integrated unit, changing any part of that unit—whether it's the body through the brain, or whether it's causing pain or pleasure in some part of the body—those affect our mental life because we are an integrated whole. We are a unit.

23:41 - Christianity and Personhood

Matt Tully
That's interesting. If non-Christian materialistic scientists tend towards emphasizing the physical body as the only reality that matters to us, do you think it's fair to say that Christians have been guilty of emphasizing just the spiritual side of their personhood and neglecting the more complex realities of how our brains and our bodies can actually influence our spiritual lives?

Brad Sickler
Yes. I think it is a difficult balance to maintain. I think, like you're suggesting, naturalists and materialists tend to drive into the ditch on one side of the road, and Christians have certainly sometimes driven into the other ditch. I know of somebody who used to say, I'm not sick; my body is sick. It's not me; it's just my body. I don't think that's the right way to do it either because I am sick. If you do want to metaphysically parse that out, the sickness is in the body; but I am that unit. In virtue of my body being sick, I am sick. I hold hands with my wife. It's not just my body that holds hands with my wife's body. I hold my wife's hand. It's easy to slide into those ways of talking or thinking about it.

Matt Tully
But you would say that they are both equally unbiblical—not truly reflecting what Scripture teaches us about ourselves?

Brad Sickler
One example from Scripture is when Mary says, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior . . .” (Luke 1:46–47). Sometimes that talk means, I, myself, with all of my being. My soul—down to my innermost being—magnifies the Lord. But very clearly at other times, that soul or spirit is treated as a metaphysically unique entity that is distinct from the body and that can survive the death of the body. Even in Scripture sometimes the usage covers both of those kinds of implications.

26:14 - What Makes Us Religious?

Matt Tully
Turning back towards the science of belief, there's a whole new field—maybe it's not new, but it's maybe more recently been given a name: the cognitive science of religion. This field is made up of scientists who want to explain faith and belief from a materialistic perspective. Can you explain what that is—the cognitive science of religion—and what some of the explanations for faith, or belief, that they offer?

Brad Sickler
It is an attempt to answer the question, Why do people tend to be religious? It tries to do that from psychological—sometimes evolutionary psychology—or even neurological perspective. If you look at some of the things that count as religious belief, it's not just belief in a single monotheistic God. There are other kinds of spiritual beliefs: ancestor worship; or belief in spirit beings inhabiting trees or forests; or other kinds of gods that don't rise to the level of power and wisdom and goodness of the biblical God. All of those kinds of things—including that we have souls; that we survive the death of our bodies; including that nature, in many of its aspects, is teleological (it has a design or a purpose)—all of those things are often lumped in with what is investigated in cognitive science of religion. So the question is this: Developmentally, neurologically, sociologically, psychologically—how do those beliefs form? What happens when they don't form? Does something go wrong? To what extent is that belief natural? If it is natural, to what extent is its naturalness? Does that lend credibility to it? You can approach this as a believer or as an unbeliever. There are cognitive scientists of religion who approach it as believers, and those who approach it as unbelievers. Sometimes there is common ground, sometimes there's not. A lot of skeptics, or naturalists, think that the reason we are religious is simply because, somehow or other, it provided some sort of survival or reproduction advantage—some kind of evolutionary bonus came from it. Maybe it came directly; maybe it came indirectly. It's trying to tell a narrative that explains why we believe in God. Even if your starting point is because that's how God made us, there's still a lot that you can say. How does that play out in terms of developmental psychology? How do these childhood beliefs either become solidified or weakened based on other inputs or based on reflection and experience?

Matt Tully
We can see trends in whole groups of people that you can almost even predict sometimes.

BS:
Right. It can draw on anthropology and cultural studies and early childhood education and developmental psychology. All of these different things are part of the purview of cognitive science of religion. Anything that is asking the question, How is religious belief formed and maintained?

29:51 - Cognitive Science and Morality

Matt Tully
Some of these naturalistic skeptics would even take that further and maybe logically say, Even if belief itself can be explained away with an evolutionary explanation or cause, we can go even further and say that morality itself—our sense of right and wrong—also would have a similar type of utility that doesn't necessarily reflect any kind of objective truth out there. How many of them would go that far? In your opinion, is that a reasonable step for them to make in terms of logical consistency? What would our response be to that?

Brad Sickler
That's a good way to ask the question. It is a reasonable thing for them to try to do. The question is, Can they pull it off? I think that they generally don't. This question—What are the moral implications of a naturalistic, evolutionary perspective?—has a history going back to Darwin and some of Darwin's earliest interpreters. Early on, it was treated as—with Nietzsche being an example—looking at what evolution tells us about our origins, and trying to draw moral conclusions from that. His moral conclusion was that we need to get rid of the categories of good and evil. They clearly don't mean anything. They're just artifacts from a previous stage that we don't need anymore. His whole idea of transcending good and evil to get to the next stage of evolution was really to take a moral leap that was derived from a Darwinian perspective. His claim that what we need to do is get to the Übermensch—the Overman or Superman. He is the one who transcends that historical-moral division between good and evil, and we need to go beyond that. Jean-Paul Sartre, an early twentieth century existentialist, draws some of the same conclusions from that—given that there is no God, what does that tell us about morality? It basically tells us there isn't any such thing, and the only question is how are we going to choose to live in light of the fact that we have this radical freedom now. There are no constraints. There's no essence out there that we're supposed to be manifesting or trying to actualize or conforming to. That's a very dark view. It's a very uncomfortable view. In my opinion, that is actually what follows from the naturalist perspective. But the last few decades have seen a shift away from that, and people have said, Well, maybe evolution isn't so bad. Maybe what it actually does is make us altruistic. It makes us caring and compassionate because

Matt Tully
Yeah, what's the book? The Loving Gene? I thought there was a riff on The Selfish Gene, but I could be misremembering.

Brad Sickler
Maybe there is. Certainly, people are out there making that case. People have been pushing for that perspective; and the question is, Can that work? So they'll point to things and say, Look at how we're nurturing our young, and caring for the infirmed (the old). From a certain way of thinking about evolution, those would be terrible things to do because this person contributes nothing to us and is a drain on our resources. Why shouldn't I kill my neighbor, take his wife, steal all his stuff? The evolutionary answer to that might be, Because you'll get put in jail. But there isn't exactly anything wrong with it. It just doesn't help you. If you're not careful and you get caught, it will actually strongly inhibit your ability to thrive and reproduce.

Matt Tully
It seems like it all boils down to pragmatism—what's going to help you get ahead?

Brad Sickler
Right. But there is an unjustified leap. The Nietzschean perspective is nature doesn't care how bad we act. And the new perspective is that nature does care, it wants us to be kind. But the problem is, you still don't generate anything from that. So what if nature—whatever that means—wants us to be kind or altruistic? So what? Why shouldn't I be what David Hume called “a sensible knave” and do what I can, and if I can get away with it, that's great! Good for me! Or, what Plato talked about in his example of the Ring of Gyges and the story that Glaucon tells about a magic ring that somebody finds—it's very much like The Lord of the Rings—a magic ring that can turn you invisible. And then, of course, the guy becomes a total rascal and ends up committing tons of heinous acts. But he can get away with it, and so he does. The question is, why should I not do that? Regardless of whether it does help my tribe or my population advance, why should I care about that? I've gotten to the stage, as a human, where I can actually reflect on those instincts, and I can ask whether I should act on them or not. I have the instinct to love my wife and to care for my children and to be kind to people in need—I have that instinct too. But I have other instincts that I definitely should not act on. If all we do is act on our instincts, we're psychopaths. That's almost the definition—we think that whatever we want to do is what we ought to do. So, on what basis are we picking? The instincts that we happen to like as a culture? Our culture says that we should be tolerant and kind and altruistic. That's a very convenient narrative to tell because that's what our culture happens to value right now. But why should I act on those instincts rather than my instincts to anger, greed, or whatever my instincts might be that are not in keeping with the commonly accepted contemporary moral code? Why shouldn't I act on those and only on the altruistic ones? If the only answer is because the altruistic ones will promote survival better, then my question is, Why would I care about anybody else's survival? You can't say, Because you should. In philosophy we talk about deriving an “ought” from and “is.” All of the descriptive statements about how people happen to be inclined are never going to be enough to generate a moral obligation—an “ought.” You “ought” to do this thing. I'm very popular with squirrels in my yard because we have walnut trees in three of our four corners. I've just had some very heated disagreements with squirrels lately about whether they should live in my boat for the winter. The two of them who decided that they should, found themselves relocated to a park far away. We have gray squirrels, and they get along with each other very well. You'll have two, three, four squirrels in a tree, and they'll just be doing their own thing. They'll be eating their walnuts, come and go as they please, and they're very cooperative and get along just fine. But then the red squirrels come in. These fiery red heads will chase out all of the other squirrels—they'll attack them. They'll chase out each other. They're very competitive, and they're very hostile. The question is, Is one of them doing it right, and one of them doing it wrong? Is one of them better or worse? Should I really be morally offended at the behavior of the red squirrels? They're both thriving equally well. They're both surviving. They do what they need to do. They're both doing great. We have no shortage of squirrels. I wish we had more of a shortage of squirrels. The gray squirrels act in a way that we would approve of—they're cooperative, they're patient with each other, and so forth. The red squirrels act in a way that we would disapprove of—we would call it greedy and avaricious.

Matt Tully
But if we were to translate those actions onto people—

Brad Sickler
Right. But the squirrels are just doing what they were wired to do. If we are like that too, on what basis are we distinguishing what we call “the good instincts”—the ones that we ought to act on—from the bad ones that we ought not to act on? If the only recourse we have is an appeal to survivability, that's not gonna cut it.

Matt Tully
What would a materialist scientist sitting right here across from you say to that? How would he or she respond?

Brad Sickler
Some of them are honest enough to say, Yeah, that's right. At the end of the day we have nothing but these feelings, and it's uncomfortable to go against them. But I recognize that doesn't actually generate any obligations. Some of them are bold enough to admit that. Whether they can actually live consistently with that—thinking that their moral feelings are really just an illusion foisted on them by evolution—that's another question.

39:23 - Do We Only Use 10% of Our Brain?

Matt Tully
Last question, and maybe the most important question: Is there any truth to the idea that we only use 10% of our brain, and that if we could somehow tap into the other 90% we would unlock all of these mental powers that we aren't used to having?

Brad Sickler
Let me preface this by saying I'm not a brain scientist. But the answer is definitely no. That is a myth. We use our whole brains. I don't mean to disparage science in any way. Like I said, I have a background in science. I find science very interesting, and I always have. We just have to understand what it can do and what it can't; when it stops and another endeavor like philosophy or theology begins. It's true that if parts of our brain are damaged, very often other parts can make up for that and form new connections; but that doesn't mean they're not being used now. A lot of the old popular myths about the fixity of the neural connections that we have—that we can't keep forming new connections—all of that has been debunked. We use our whole brains.

Matt Tully
Is it neuroplasticity—this idea that the brain—

Brad Sickler
Is highly adaptive and can restructure itself in times of need or in response to problems.

Matt Tully
That's amazing. Brian, thank you so much for taking the time today to talk with me and just share some of the interesting things that are going on not just in the science of cognition but helping us think a little bit more Christianly about who we are as people and how our souls and spirits relate to our bodies. I appreciate you taking the time.

Brad Sickler
It was my pleasure. Thanks for having me.


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