Neuroscience and Religion

I only just found this video, (a lecture from 2008). The topic is very technical but I think Malcolm Jeeves makes a fantastic job of making the topic available to us as members of  the general public.

To pique your interest, here is a quote

The accumulating evidence from neuropsychology makes it extremely difficult to maintain a view that there are two different substances interacting in the human person. All the emphasis rather is on the unity of the person, two aspects of which must be studied and taken seriously if a full account is to be given of the mystery of the human person.
Clearly we must discount the idea that ‘in-breathing’ should be equated with the acquisition of a ‘soul’. Joel Green comments on the word translated ‘soul’ in Gen. 2: 7 (“The Lord God formed a human being of the dust of the ground, breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the human being became a living soul”):
In fact, the same term (a living soul) is used only a few verses earlier with reference to ‘every beast of the earth’, ‘every bird of the air’ and ‘everything that creeps on the earth’ – that is, to everything in which there is life, demonstrating incontrovertibly that ‘soul’ is not, under this accounting, a unique characteristic of the human person? Genesis does not define humanity in essentialist terms but in relational – more specifically identifying the human person as Yahweh’s partner.

I was specially moved by Malcolm Jeeves words here :

Whatever therefore is to be said about the human cannot be confined to general statements about humanity apart from God. It cannot be said apart from the discovery that in Jesus Christ we see who we are and we also see God for us. And what he said about the human cannot be said as a general statement that assumes that what we see now is all there is to see. The answer to the question about who we are is finally eschatological, where tears are no longer part of the human reality, where joy is the order of eternity, and where our transience disappears in the disappearance of death. We cannot see that yet. But we do see Jesus. That will have to do. I think it is enough”. And speaking personally, for me it certainly is.

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Lecturer: Professor Malcolm Jeeves, CBE, FRSE
Malcolm Jeeves is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of St Andrews, and was formerly President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotlands national Academy of science and letters. He was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1992 for his services to science and to psychology in Britain. He established the department of psychology at St Andrews University, and his research interests centre around cognitive psychology and neuropsychology.

You can find a powerpoint that went with the lecture and the transcript in a word document .



About Tarnya Burge

Tarnya Burge is the webmaster for She is  on the editorial team for From Death to Life. Her late husband David Burge and Tarnya have 8 children. She is a self-confessed geek who feels that knowing some theology helps her know God better.

They all say `the ordinary reader does not want Theology; give him plain practical religion’. I have rejected their advice. I do not think the ordinary reader is such a fool. Theology means ‘the science of God,’ and I think any man who wants to think about God at all would like to have the clearest and most accurate ideas about Him which are available. From “Mere Christianity” C S Lewis

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