Academic journal article Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith

Taking Neuroscience Seriously

Academic journal article Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith

Taking Neuroscience Seriously

Article excerpt

Mihretu P. Guta accuses me of neuroscientism, claiming that I assert that the proper knowledge of human nature is only attainable via neuroscience (PSCF 63, no. 1 [2011]: 69-70). This was most certainly not the intention of my article ("Peering into People's Brains," PSCF 62, no. 2 [2010]: 122-32), and I am surprised that he considers this to be my position. More importantly though, we cannot dismiss neuroscience and the role of the brain in human life as readily as Guta does. The thrust of the developments outlined in my article is that neuroscience, in some circumstances, is beginning to claim that it can provide something akin to first-person descriptions. The adequacy of these is a matter for debate, and I questioned some of the claims.

However, Guta's example of the hurtfulness of pain is not entirely convincing. I readily accept that neuroscience can tell us only a limited amount about how I (or someone else) experience pain. Nevertheless, when sitting in the dentist's chair, it is comforting to know that the dentist has an intimate knowledge of nerves such as the inferior alveolar, when injecting an anaesthetic into the appropriate one prior to working on my tooth. Pain is objective, regardless of whether my experience is slightly different from yours, and neuroscience is indispensable in understanding some aspects of it and controlling it, at least to a degree. …

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