A Christian Science perspective.
That question began a recent New York Times blog post by Andy Clark, an author and professor of logic and metaphysics at Edinburgh University in Scotland (“Out of Our Brains,” The Stone, Dec. 12, 2010). Professor Clark is a leader in the study of mind extension, or extended cognition. This asserts that our minds may not exist solely within the boundaries of biological construction, but extend beyond us into our environment. “Is it possible,” he also asks, “that, sometimes at least, some of the activity that enables us to be the thinking, knowing, agents that we are occurs outside the brain?”
Those questions relate to the study and practice of Christian Science. No, this blog wasn’t theological in nature. And it didn’t go so far as to claim that intelligence is something other than fundamentally neurologically based. Yet Clark did conclude, “Really understanding the mind, if the theorists of embodied and extended cognition are right, will require a lot more than just understanding the brain.”
Note that discussions such as this one are happening beyond just classrooms and laboratories. The comments on this blog involved a lively exchange of opinions that ran the gamut. “The key point is that our minds are in our physical beings,” proclaimed one reader. “The mind and the brain are not the same thing,” countered another. “Some people get it, some don’t.”
Humanity is at a crossroad. We’re beginning to confront this fundamental question of whether or not we are bounded by our bodies, our human circumstances, our physical environments. And the roads lead in distinct and opposite directions. While some may even conclude that intelligence can reside both inside and outside the body, Christian Science proclaims, perhaps most loudly of all, that it is entirely spiritual in nature – and entirely good. Revealing the core message of Christianity, this Science explains that we are not in any degree physical.
As stated plainly in Mary Baker Eddy’s “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” “The belief that a pulpy substance under the skull is mind is a mockery of intelligence, a mimicry of Mind” (p. 192). And further on: “The foundation of mortal discord is a false sense of man’s origin. To begin rightly is to end rightly. Every concept which seems to begin with the brain begins falsely. Divine Mind is the only cause or Principle of existence. Cause does not exist in matter, in mortal mind, or in physical forms” (p. 262).
Consider that Mind and divine Mind, as used in those two statements, describe God Himself. There can be no middle ground, no hedging, as to the impossibility that our intelligence and capabilities are defined by matter, physicality, brain. If God is Mind, and God is All – as the Bible teaches – then to accept the supremacy of mortal minds and brains not only leaves us at the mercy of biological construction, but leaves the Creator at its mercy as well! Such a conclusion is a model without hope or logic. It relegates all creation to annihilation.
On the contrary, through decades of study and practice, Mary Baker Eddy proved through her discovery of Christian Science that understanding and accepting our very being as spiritual and God-based, never in the body or brain-based, brings us forever closer to the intelligent truth that Jesus taught. And she articulated his teachings in Science and Health, as a system of healing laws that have freed and are freeing many people from any trouble imaginable, including mental disorders.
A healing Jesus performed helps illustrate the fundamental importance of accepting that our mind is the one divine Mind. He encountered a deranged man so violent and self-destructive that he had to be chained. But after Jesus healed him, he was “clothed and in his right mind” (see Mark 5:1-16, New Revised Standard Version).
Nobody had been able to contain this man as he raved and roamed the countryside. Falling at Jesus’ feet, he screamed, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” – perhaps not all that far from asking that question, Where is my mind? The man also told Jesus, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” That’s not a bad description of how easy it can be to identify oneself with material existence, where a separate brain-mind dictates the identity and functionality of each individual as mortal, with a mentality chained to matter, facing ultimate deterioration.
To the master Christian – who embodied the healing Christ most fully – the question was put to rest that this man could be imprisoned in a fractured, brain-controlled existence. Jesus commanded the scene. He healed the man. He proved the presence of one supreme, good Mind, and of that man as a whole and perfect son of God, exclusively and unreservedly.
At the crossroad, the physical sciences probe for intelligence in ever smaller increments of matter. But divine Science has opened thought to encounter boundless Mind and its infinite resources. Which way will people turn?
From an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel.