By Chet Yarbrough
The Mind of God: Neuroscience, Faith, and a Search for the Soul
By: Jay Lombard
Narrated by: David Acord
Dr. Jay Lombard (Author, Neurologist, specializing in child neurology, Ted conference presenter.)
The introduction to Dr. Lombard’s book is by Patrick Kennedy. Kennedy’s self-effacing acknowledgement of his personal struggles draws one into Lombard’s story. As an introduction, a listener is interested in a scientist’s belief in God. However, by chapter 3, some listeners will be tempted to quit listening.
Patrick Kennedy (Former Democratic Representative from Rhode Island, Nephew of President Kennedy, son of Ted Kennedy.)
Lombard agues God is real because His existence is proven by evolution and human consciousness.
The basis for his argument is the “miracle” of evolution and human consciousness. The idea of “miracle” is a return to a neolithic age. Lombard’s “miracle” argument is off-putting for three reasons. One, miracles are frequently used by those who have not yet proven something by science. Two, evolution is proven by science. Three, consciousness remains undefined.
Earth is flat and the center of the universe, i.e., until Galileo proves otherwise. We live in a world of Newtonian physics (cause and effect), i.e., until Max Planck, Niels Bohr, and others discover quantum theory and mechanics. Time is a precise measure of the past, present, and future, i.e., until Einstein proves time is relative. History shows miracles are often explanations for something humans do not understand. The human mind consciously interprets and intentionally believes the absurd–like lightning strikes because Zeus is angry. One is justifiably skeptical of those who argue God is the origin of creation and human benefaction.
What may draw a skeptic back to the book is Lombard’s experience as a neurologist in treating patients with proven brain dysfunction. Lombard shows an empathy for his patients because of his professed beliefs. Whatever one’s belief, empathy is essential ingredient of a good life.
Lombard’s empathy is an evolutionary pattern that offers hope to the world.
Philosophers of the past like Nietzsche and Camus, reject God because they believe He/She is a construct of human consciousness, not an omniscient being who created heaven and earth. Nietzsche argues humanity killed God by becoming Superman or Woman, without the need for something greater than themselves. In contrast, Camus suggests belief in God makes no difference.
The world to Camus is an unpredictable place and every human must consciously seek a mission in life to be free.
Lombard agrees with Camus’s argument. However, Lombard believes evolution of human consciousness is proof of God. Lombard suggests proof of God’s presence is shown with transformation from human self-interest to empathy. That is Lombard’s gigantic leap of faith, unwarranted by facts. It is the equivalent of an oft quoted comment by Einstein about God not playing dice.
The last patient in Lombard’s book is a Buddhist monk who is at early stages of Alzheimer’s.
Ironically, as Lombard notes, Buddhist belief is to “let go” of human emotion. Dementia results in “letting go”, but dementia is not a conscious act.
Dementia gives no comfort to one who is older and has a fear of Alzheimer’s and its consequence for others. Others, who are left to care for the stricken. What makes this chapter interesting is Lombard’s careful diagnosis, attentiveness, and empathetic care for his patient.
By the end of Lombard’s book, one is convinced of the need for science, with a hope for clearer understanding of brain, mind, and consciousness.
God may or may not have anything to do with brain, mind, and consciousness. Lombard’s argument for God’s existence is no more convincing than a bolt of lightning from Zeus.
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