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Journal of Psycli(ilii((y and Cliri.siianily 2004 Cliriitiun .

A,';soriarinn for Psychological Studies


2OO'l, Vol. 2.^, No, 2. 110-12(1 I.SSN 0753-1273

Resonance: A Model for Relating


Science, Psych^^logy, and Faith
VCarren S. Brou-n
Graduate Sch<X)l of Psychology
Fuller 7heolo,^ical Seminary

It Ls otten difficuli to be clear alunil i.-ithi.T ihf prcxesses lo engage in, or the final oiikomes to be txpecl-
ed. when altemptlng to rehile science and religion, or psychology and faith. Ttiis anicle presents tlie Reso
nance Modei as a metaphnric way to think about the processes and ouicumes o( these dialogues. The
Resonance MtxJel has the advantage of: (a) specifying a larger number uf domains of relevant information
that intist tx; lakcn into account; (b) suggesting what son of interrelationships can be expected; and (c) pro-
viding a formulation that is dynamic and suggestive of how to prcKeed. One example of a search tor reso-
nance is described—an attempt to relate a Christian anthropology to a neuroscientific view of human nature.

The problem of relating psychology and and reconciled? What is the best process for
Christian faith is a broader and deeper problem weighing the claims made by various fields, dis-
(han much of the discourse in this area supp<xs- ciplines, and sources of authority?
es. This is because there is much more to con- And what should the final outcome of these
sider than the iwo domains of modern dialogues look likei" Shoiik! there be a set of
psychological research and practice and the propositioas on which all .sources of authority
tenet.s of historic Christian faith. There are also agree? Should Christian theology adopt without
various cultural traditions (societal and religiotis) modification all the implications of current psy-
that must be considered, as well as the subjec- chological or scientific theories, or should sci-
tive experiences of persons. In addition, the ence and psychology accommodate without
domain of infortnation that is currently most fLirther comment some version of Christian theol-
detnantling of attention in our culture is science, ogy? In these conceptual card games, who gets
and particularly cognitive neuroscience. Based to trump whom? If there is to be some blending,
what sort of a blend, integration, or correlation
on neuroscience research, mucb is being pro-
should we expect to achieve?
posed about the nature of persons that also
needs to he brought into dialog with Christian This article comes out of my own need to
theology. This article presents a model (or more develop a perspective from which to work and a
accurately, a metaphor) for understanding what model lo gtiide me in making various conceptual
is nece,s.sary in relatirig science, psycln>logy, and and theoretical moves. I occupy an unusual aca-
Christian faith. demic position, and an appreciation of this posi-
tion can help the reader understand the
What are we trying to accomplish? motivation behind the model I develop in this
Some o!" the confusion and lack of apparent article. First, I atn a research neuropsychologist
progress in relating psychology (particularly with an active laboratory. My students and I
neuroscience) and Christian faith is, I believe, .study the cognitive and psychosodal outcomes
related to a lack of clarity regarding both tbe of a cotigenital brain abnormality called agenesis
process and llie ultimate goal of this dialogue. of the corpus callosum. Second, I am a professor
With respect to process, when we are faced in a doctoral program in Clinical Psychology. All
with relevant information from a number of of my students are training to be clinicians and
cotnpeting sources, how can the authority of therapists. Third, I am a professor in a theologi-
these sources and the implications of their par- cal seminaiy. Both my re,search and my teaching
occur within the life and academic programs of
ticular conclusions be appropriately recognized
Fuller Theological Seminary. Finally, my theolog-
ical and ecclesiastical roots are within the Wes-
Correspondence regarding this article should be ieyan tradition. All of these ideas and influences
addressed to Warren S. Brown, Ph.D., Professor of impinge on my thinking.
Psychology, Graduate School of Psychology, Fuller
Theological Seminary, 135 N. Oakland Avc, Pasade- As neiiro,science comes tnore and more to the
na,, CA 911H2, forefront in both psychology and popular cul-

110
WARKEN S. BRCJWN 111

tiire, it i.s not po.s.sible fur me to hide away in my conflicting s o u r c e s ^ t h e choice of a farorite
lab and work at doing good and important indispiilahle anthonty. Whatever source is cho-
research with my graduate students. I find myself sen is presumed tt) iruinp any differing concepts
called to consider more deeply the relationship or ideas from other domains of information.
between my field of human cognitive neuro- Influences between domains can only go in one
science, wider domains of p.sycholog>', and ihe direction. The favored authority is not open to
Wesleyan nature of my Christian faith. pressure for reinterpretation from any other
What follows is my understanding of what is source. Of course, this makes discus.sion quite
possible and necessar>' in relating psychology, difficult between inclividtials who have adopted
neuro.science, and Christian faith. I present the different authority rankings. The heated and
Resonance Model as iny way of understanding seemingly Linresolvable debate between cre-
what must be accomplished and how to go ationism and evolutionary science can be viewed
about relating these various domains of knowl- as occurring between groups who have adopted
edge and information. As a case study. I will different indisputable and unassailable authori-
briefly outline the work I have done in finding ties, Certainly, examples of individuals who have
re.sonance between neuroscience and a Christian adopted indisputable authorities can be found
view of human nature. within both science (e.g., Richard Dawkins) and
psychology (e.g., h'reud). In the dialogue
Methods of Relating Psychology and Faith between psychology and Christian faith, Biblical
There are a number of diflereni nKjdels or Counseling (Powlison. 2000) and Christian Psy-
approaches to relaiing psychology and faith. chology (Roberts, 2000) would also fall within
One approach (or non-approach) is what Don- the orbit of this position, as does the position of
ald Mackay (1979, p. 29) has called "conceptual Collins (despite his use of the term "integration")
apartheid"—keeping views from different (Collins, 2(K)0). While on the surface the.se posi-
domains in watertight compartments so that tions on psychology and Christianity may seem
they can never interact. When functioning in to have merit as "defenders of ihe faith," they
this way. we do uur best to ignore the contra- implicitly assume that the Bible can be directly
dictor\' naiLire of informaticjn and implications and indisputably interpreted with respect to its
that exist within varicjus domains of knowledge implications for psychology, the relevance of sci-
and theory, (^ne version of conceptual apartheid ence, the nature of persons, the events of cre-
would he a complete disintegration where one ation, etc. However, if some form of
believes something in one context with the interpretation ot the Bible is, in fact, necessary to
implication "A." and believes something else in answer such questions, who.se interpretations are
another context with the implication "not-A," to be accepted as the trump card in this game?
without noting or being ccjncerned about this And might not harmony with other domains of
problem. Some postmodernist thinking appears Information help one choose between potential
lo endorse this sort of conceptual apartheid by interpretations of relevant Biblical material?
prestiming that we simply have two differing Particulady within di.scussions about psychology
narratives, neither of which has any obligation and tlieology, lots of people talk al:K)ut integra-
to take account of the other. The idea that reli- tion. This term does not have a precise definition
gion and .science are "non-overlapping magiste- and means lots of different things to different
ria" (Gould, 1999) is a n o t h e r version of writers. Nevertheless, most of these meanings
conceptual apartheid. Some versions of concep- refer (at least implicitly) to an attempt to make
tual apartheid might be better repre.sented by concepts from the two fields explicitly compara-
the metaphor of an "intellectual gated communi- ble and, where possible, to combine (and. thus,
ty," with walls, gates, and locks defending one to integrate) theories. Carter and Narramore
domain from the cognitive dissonance of having (1979) describe integration as follows: "Genuine
to bother with information from a n o t h e r integration involves the discovery- of and articula-
tiomain. It is clear that other information exists, tion of the fomnion tinderlying principles of both
bill one has constructed a defended position psychology and the Scriptures. It is this di,scovery
that shields one from confronting potentially of the one overarching configuration or set of
discordant information from another domain. principles that constitutes the deepest level of
The intellectual gated community overlaps integration, not sitnply lining up of parallel con-
with another method for dealing with potentially cepts from two di.stinct disciplines" (p. 92).
112 Kl-SONANCK: A MODEL FOR

However, there are a number of problems trumping out-of-hand theories and ideas from a
with this form of integrative a[iproach. As the "lower" level because they are not consistent
quotation from Carter and Narramore (above) with a higher level explanation, or (in the case
indicates, the term "integration" connotes an of reductionism) presuming to give a better
attempt to force (sometime.s through interpretive account of theories and ideas from higher levels
legerdemain) the discrepant sources to say by showing the micro-level "determinants." Sec-
exactly the same thing so that they can be ond, it is difficult to know what one can accom-
shown not to be incotnpatible. However, there plish u'ithin perspectivalism that goes beyond
are major differences between ttomains in their (he form of conceptual apartheid found in "non-
presuppositions, epistemologies, and sources (JI overlapping magisteria" or the differing narra-
relevant data. Thus, attempts at integration ain lives of postmodernism. We need a richer view
the danger of doing some degree of violence to regarding how to establish correspondence
the epistemological integrity of various fields of between what is learned iilxjul human naiure at
enquiry and scholarship. different levels or Iroin ditfcrcnl j:)erspectives.
Yet another way of understanding the relation- We alst) need a model tliat signals the dynamics
ship between fields like psychology and theolo- ot process in addition to ihc hoped-(<.)r outcome.
gy is the idea of "levels of explanation" (Mackay.
1979. 1991; Myers, 2000; Myers ^Jeeves, 1987) Tfje Wesle}'€in Quadrilateral
-^a view sometimes labeled perspectivalism. In the 18''' Century. John Wesley was faced
Here it is believed that physiological science, with is,sues of competing authorities in trying to
psychology, sociology, philosophy, theology, revitalize personal Chri.stian faith within the
scripture, personal faith, etc., all provide descrip- Anglican church of his day. He wrestled with
tions of human nature from differing points of reconciling the competing authorities of scrip-
view. One way perspectives can differ is wiih lurc, Anglican theological tradition, his own per-
respect to the closeness or distance <;)f view, sonal spiritual experiences, and the dictates of
varying from the more microscopic (e.g.. cellular rational thought. He was also well aware of
physiology) to the more macroscopic (e.g.. ,soci- developments within the rapidly atKancing sci-
ology or theology). Another way information ence of ihe Enlightenment. The solution for Wes-
about human nature can vary is with respect to ley was an implicit method thai allowed for
external observations versus internal subject some arbitration and interaction between author-
experience. Mackay (1979, 1991) calls these two ities. Wesley s apparent methodology has been
perspectives the O story" (observer perspective) formalized and made explicit by Outler (Outler,
and the "I story" (subjective experiences of per- 1985) in the form of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral.
sons). Mackay believes these points of view- From his various writings and sermons, it is clear
should correlate, but one should never attempt that Wesley presumed that four sources of
to integrate them or to substitute one for the authority (Scripture. Experience, Rationality, and
other. Thus, within perspectivalism, different Tradition) must be taken into account in order
fields are presumed to provide diflcrent views ol best to understand truth about God, human
exactly the same phenomena. While ihere nature, the physical workl, redemptitm. holiness,
should be some correspondence or correlation elc. For a further expianaiion see Maddox. 1994.
between the views, the views should never be
confused or substituted one for another. A geometric arrangement in \hv form of a
I find perspectivalism more satisfactory than quadrilateral (sec Figure 1 for my representation
others as a method for understanding the rela- of the Quadrilateral) is mt^ant to emphasize Wes-
tionships between psychology, neuroscience, ley's recognition that there are different domains
and Christian theology. For one thing, there are of authority; that each domain has a valid voice
obviously more than two domains or perspec- that must be heard and considered: and that
tives that need attt.'ntion and consideration. In truth (such as it can be known) is revealed
addition, within perspectivalism one can respect somewhere at the intersection of these domains.
differences between domains in methodology These concepts derived from Wesley seem to
and sources of data. However. I also feel per- provitie a feiiile starting point for thinking aboiil
spectivalism has some significant limitations. the relationship between psychology, neuro-
First, the idea of levels-of-explanation. with its science, and Christian faith, particularly in our
implications of hierarchy, has the potential for attempt to understand the nature of persons.
WARREN S. BROWN 113

The Wesieyan Quadrilateral


Four Sources of Authority

Scripture

TRUTH

Experience

Figure 1. The Wesieyan Quadrilateral, the four sources of authority: Scripaire, Rationality,
Experience, Tradition.
Given that Jolm Wesley was an Anglican priest tive in the current age to differentiate between
and situated professionally within the religious science and rationality. Second, the model does
world of his day. what is to be particularly not specify how the domains interrelate. (Of
appreciated in his implicit model is that there is course, the Quadrilateral is derivative from Wes-
no attempt to disregard the importance of cjthev ley's writings and, thus, one would not expect to
domains of knowledge, nor to ignore the poten- find tuuch specificity attached to it.) As a tnodel,
tial for apparent discrepancy between the impli- the Quadrilateral does not give us any guidance
cations of information from the different as to how conflicts are arbitrated or how consen-
dutnains. This way of thinking avoids proposing sus might be reached, particularly since the
a single, absolute authority that trumps all others methodologies and sources of information within
on every question (as in sola Sciiptura). but it each domain are so vastly different. Nor does the
allows each domain to stand ba,sed on its own Quadrilateral hint at what a coherent resolution
integrity. This quadrilateral tiiodel, derived from (.)f information from various domains might be
Wesley's writings, would be less likely to violate like. Here I propose the metaphor of resonance,
the epistetnological integrity of the different and the following model.
domains by forcing them to come io exactly the
same conclusions. Rather, the Quadrilateral sug- The Resonance Model
gests respect for what each dotnain can know I believe that a helpful way of thinking about
tnost a.ssuredly given its methods and focus. what we need to be doing in the dialogue
However, the Wesieyan Quadrilateral as a berween theology, neuroscience, and psycholo-
model for relating neuroscience, psychology, gy is best represented by an auditory/acoustic
and Christian theology is incomplete with metaphor involving the property of resonance.
respect to two i.ssues. The first issue is the In this tnodel, resonance refers to the amplifica-
domains thai need to be recognized—-within the tion or enrichment of sound when two or more
current dialogue between science and religion, it auditory signals vibrate together synchronously
is better to recognize five primary dotiiains, or hannonically. The opposite would be disso-
rather than four. Although Wesley would have nance, which is the datiipening or discordance
considered science a.s v\ithin the domain of caused from the combination of two or more
rational discourse. T believe it is more informa- inharmonious sources.
114 RKSONANCF,: A MODEL FOR RKLAHNG

Brown's Resonance Model

••^^, '••>;-. Experience//// ,

/•-TRirthc tfadition

Rationality Scripture

Figure 2. Brown's Resonance Model: Experience, Tradition, Scripture, Rationality, Science.

Resonance is meant primarily to be under- giving off an auditory signal (i.e., information
stood as a rich metaphor. However, to give from that domain). All of these auditory signals
greater meaning to the term "resonance." I offer (indicated by the radiating dashed lines repre-
the ftillowing more explicit definition: A state- senting .sound waves) have some implication for
ment from psychology and a statement of Chris- understanding what is likely to be true. Howev-
tian theology (for e x a m p l e ) would be er, in this model, information from a single
considered resonant if o n e is directly pre- source is not always synonymous with truth.
dictable from the other, or if one is reasonably Truth, such as it can be known and understood,
probable given the other. Similarly, two such is found in the inter-domain resonant field.
statements would not be considered dissonant if Thus, somewhere in the middle of the 5 radios
they are not directly contradictory, or if their (or information .sources), where the sound waves
inescapable deductions or implications are not meet and overlap, truth is best understood. The
contradictory; or if the implications of one does word "Truth" in Figure 2 should be depicted in
not make the other significantly improbable. sotne fuzzy and indistinct graphical form, repre-
In this model, arbitration of differences between senting the idea that we oniy know "as through
domains is conceived of as a prixre.ss of finding a darkened glass." Our comprehension is always
maximal resonance between [he information ema- partial and incomplete. Nevertheless, each
nating from various sources. To seek resonance is source is hopefully telling us something about
not to look for different domains to say the .same what is tRie. Thus, the most reliable knowledge
thing, nor is it allowing one field to taimp anoth- and understanding is to lie found .s<.)mewhere in
er. Rather, it is presumed that if a conclusion is the re.sonant field where information from differ-
true within one domain, it should have some ent domains intersect.
form of resonance with other domains. Kach radio is labeled to indicate one domain
Figure 2 is a visual representation of the Re.so- of information. As indicated above, I have split
nance Model. Five domains of information are the Wesleyan idea of "Rationality" into "Science"
conceived of as old fashioned radios. In the Res- and "Rationality" in order to recognize differ-
onance ModeL each radio is understood to be ences in epistemology. "Science" is meant to
WARREN S. BROWN 115

denote information based on sy.stematic and The postmodern critique of .science and rationali-
repeatable tili.servations of the natural world ty suggests that the traditions of local cultures
(physical, biological, and social). While .science (including scientific cultures) have an influence
uses rational tools, the final arbiter of truth in on theories, formulations, choice of questions,
.science is whether findings are empirically repli- what is accepted as valid information, etc.
cabte. ralher than logically consistent. Logical Finally, "Scripture" refers to the Bible (or
inconsistency is tolerated in science at least other writings viewed as sacred and authorita-
while waiting for clarification from further obser- tive by adherents of various other religions).
vations and experiments. In this model, psychol- "Scripture," in this model, is placed as one of
ogy as a summary of obser\ations of human several pointers to truth, rather than truth itself,
behavior would be primarily within "Science." in that there is always a hermeneutical and
"Rationality" is then allowed to uniquely repre- interpretive task when attempting to figure out
sent the outcome of the application of the rules, what scripture means, both in its original con-
melhods, and arguments within areas like mathe- text and with respect to a particular psychologi-
matics, philosophy, logic, elc. "Rationality"" refers cal, scientific, or even theological question.
not only to the outcome of the lawful processes Thus, one implication of this model is that
of information manipulation specified within other domains are seen as aids to scriptural
ihese intellectual disciplines, but also the natural interpretation by creating re.sonance or disso-
kinds of logical arguments that are advanced in nance with our attempts to understand the
discussions and debates. In their theoretical mani- meaning of the Bible.
festations, btrth neuroscience and psychology are The knob.s on each radio suggest the dynamic
most clearly nitional, as is systematic theology. process implied by this model (i.e., the possibili-
"Kxperience" is meant to include our personal ty of Inning the information coming from each
religious experiences, our subjective experience of the sources). Tuning refers to a process of
of l:)eing a person, the experiences of being in finding, within the range of interpretations that
relationship to other persons, and the shared are permissible within a particular domain, the
experiences of local communities. Personal one that is most resonant with information and
episodic memories are a core aspect of this theories from other domains. Thus, to extend
domain of information. "Experience" as a source our resonance metaphor, as the radios are tuned
of knowledge would also encompass procedural (i.e., the information changes in pitch or loud-
knowledge and emotional learning, which are ness) the outputs sometimes resonate at the
major contributors to "tacit knowledge" as pt)int of intersection in a way that makes truth
described by Michael Polanyi (19S8). Explication clearer. But sometimes the settings result in dis-
of the nature of subjective experience is a critical sonance, causing the signals to cancel or distort,
component in psychology, particularly within such that truth becomes less clear. When disso-
many theories of psychopathology and psy- nance occurs, the task of knowing and under-
chotherapy. The fact that neuroscience is begin- standing is to go to each of the sources and try
ning t<i sketch out brain systems involved in adjusting the knobs (within the range of reason-
various forms of subjective experience should al)le interpretations for that particular domain) in
not confuse us into thinking that science can in order to find settings that result in greater reso-
any way completely override (or "taimp") the nance. While truth is to be found in resonance,
truth contained in our subjective experiences. dissonance indicates that some form of misinfor-
However, the rapidly accumulating neuroscience mation or misinterpretation is being broadcast
of subjective experiences provides one of many from one or several sources. The static nature of
challenges in finding resonance. a diagram such as seen in Figure 2 cannot cap-
"Tradition" means not only religious tradition, ture the dynamic that is intended in this model-
but also the wisdom of the cultural traditions of The reader needs to imagine the knobs turning,
families, local communities, elhnic/national and sound waves pulsing at various frequencies
groups, professions, etc. Community narratives and intensities, and the word "Truth" variously
and stories form a critical ma.ss of .such traditions. coming more or less into focus with the chang-
Since all knowledge .starts with "pre-knowledge" ing signals emanating from the S radios.
in the form of presuppositions that are stamped Finally, it must l>e emphasized that the search
on us by our families and cultures, the impact of for re.sonance is a community endeavor. No sin-
Tradition" in this model cannot be minimized. gle person can know enough about all of the
11(1 RESONA^^CE: A M O D E L KOR R E I A T I N G

various domains. We must have conversati<ins ing from different domains. Thus, this model is
between persons, each of whom has knowledge not entirely modern (it gives an equal place to
from at least one of these domains. Of course. personal experience and cultural traditions), is
the hazard is that experts easily adopt an altitude not entirely postmodern (it escapes objection-
of academic imperialism, where the dynamic and able forms of cultural relativism by granting that
range of possibiliiies within their own field is important information about truth comes from
never subjected to the test of resonance with science and rationality), and is not secular (it
other domains. gives a critical voice to the authority of scripture,
as well as to the wisdom of religious traditions).
Further Implications of the Resonance Model
One can easily imagine thai not ever\" source
One of the issues in the development of the
will have relevant information bearing on all lop-
Resonance Model was what word to put in ihc
ics. With respect to topics about which only one
middle—the point of intersection of information
domain has any relevant information, we would
between domains. The reader may be imcom-
grant that a single source might have sole
fortable with the word "truth." The commitment
authority. For example, information from the sci-
in this model to the position that a reality exists
ence of neurophysiology would have sole
that is knowable in some manner, is an idea that
authority with respect to knowledge of the
rings of a modernism which is currently in disre-
nujlecular structure and function of the mem-
pute among most philosophers. However, this
brane of a neuron. Other domains have nothing
model attempts to capture some ot the spirit and
particular to say about ihis topic. However, as
concerns of postmodernism in that it proposes
soon as generalizations about human nature (for
that our understanding of what is true is dynam-
example) are made from the implications of such
ic. Important truths seldom appear absolutely
neurophysiologica! data, c>ther sources will also
clearly, or are independently validated, within
have information to contribute, and the reso-
any one domain. What is more, this model rec-
nance or dissonance between other sources and
ognizes that any understanding of what might be
this generalization from neuroscience must be
true is always influenced by lx)th tradition and
taken intt) account.
personal experience. Neither science nor ratio-
nality, nor a combination of these, .stand alone as The exact number and designation of critical
arbiters of truth. domains is, to .some degree, a matter of choice.
Those I have designated I would consider to be
The challenge for this model is to indicate in the primary voices in our understanding of
some way that an understanding of tnith at any human nature. With respect to other conversa-
one time or by any one person or group is tions, one might want to break 'Tradition" into
always somewhat partial and indistinct. One po.s- "Culture" and "Religious Tradition." Or, for other
sibility would be tt) replace "Truth" with "Theory-" purposes, one might want to differentiate "Phys-
or "Hypothesis." However, this move would have ical Science" and "Social Science." I would con-
the problem that the outcome of the model sider such aliernatives to be entirely within the
would be something upon which one cannol act spirit of this model. What is important is to com-
with confidence. We do not wish to make critical prehend the metaphors of resonance between
decisions for ourselves or our communities based multiple .sources and the possibility of tuning
on theories or hypotheses. In fact, we would be signals from every source in the attempt to find
better to use the words "theory" and "hypothesis" resonance.
for the information coming from each domain.
What can be known from the resonance ot infor- An Example of the Resonance Model
mation is something more reliable. in Operation
Reasonable alternatives might be "Knowledge" Finding le.sonance between Christian theology
or "Understanding" as codes for "bcsl under- and modern neuroscience is challengiTig, particu-
standing of truth under the circumstances." How- larly with respect to views of human naaire. It is
ever, I have chosen to keep "truth" as the central increasingly difficult to hold a traditional Chris-
idea to reinforce my presumption that properties tian view of persons in a w'orld of modern neuro-
of the world and of human nature are largely biology, cognitive science, and neuropsychology.
constant and at least partially knowahle, and thai As an example of the usefulness of the Reso-
these properties can be reflected in some veridi- nance Model, I will review what I have written
cal manner is the resonance of information com- elsewhere regarding areas of dissonance antl the
WARREN S. BROWN 117

p()lfnii;il for resonance between a Christian ism is also faced with critical problems. First, the
(specifically Westeyan) view of human nature nature of the interaction between a non-material
und the view emanating from cognitive neuro- soul and a physical body and brain has never
science (Brown. 199Ha, 1998b. 2002, 200.^. 2004; been specilied in a convincing way (although
Brown & Jeeves, 1999). some have tried). Second (and more important-
The critical issue creating dissonance between ly), there is a decreasing residue of leftover
theological and scientific views of the nature of higher human mental functions and even reli-
persons lies in a fundamental difference in a gious experiences that have not yet been shown
basic assumption lield by neuroscience and to have neurocognitive correlates. Tliere is not
witliin most Christian theology. To put the prob- tiiuch left unexamined by neuroscience that
lem formally, we are faced with two opposing might constitute evidence for a non-material
views of human nature represented by the fol- scjul that has some notable form of agency with-
lowing ccsntradictory propositions (Brown & in htiman behavior To have a separate entity
Jeeves, 1999). such as a soul in a manner that is more than
trivial, the soul must have some realm (or
Proposition 1: Humans are physical
realms) of independent causal power within
beings who also have non-maierial
human mental and physical activity. The soul
.souls. It is through our souls that we
must do something that the brain does not do,
experience and relate to God. A
or that cannot be affected by damage to the
related proposition would be that
brain. Othei'wise. the concept of a soul is with-
our souls are the source of oi[r free
out compelling meaning.
will and moral agency.
Proposition 2: Humans are neurobi- Although the research in most cases is incom-
ological beings whose minds (also plete (and thus leaves the question open), the
souls. religioLLS experience, etc.) are strttng influence of neurobiological processes on
determined by, and can (at least in our personal, social, and even spiritual lives, at
theory) be exhaustively explained the very least, creates dissonance with dualism
by neurobiology. neurochemistry, and forces us to consider the physical eml>odi-
and ultimately by physics. ment of soulish human functioning. For exam-
pie: What is Ihe meaning of experiences of
Proposition 2 expresses a view called reduc- nearness to God and intensely personal spiritual
tive (or eliminative) materialism that is character- moments when these can be elicited by tempo-
istic of the pliilosophic view of many (certainly ral lobe seizures (Ramachandran, 1997;
not all) scientisis, but that is denied by a Chris- Ramachandran ik Blakesjee, 1998) or magnetic
tian understanding of human nature. While vari- stimulation of this brain area (Cook & Persinger,
ations on Proposition 2 exist, it is difficult tt) 1997)? And what is to he made of the failure of
hold this position without mental and spiritual moral restraint in some patients with frontal lobe
life being presumed to be epiphenomenal—that brain damage (Damasio, 199'*). or Ehe dramatic
IS, all ihe causes of hiuiian experience and infringement of Alzheitner's dementia on the
human behavior emanate from the lower levels spiritual and religious lives of some patients
of neurophyslology and neurochemistry. Thus, (Weaver, 20(N)? Thus, a neuroscience perspec-
one easily arrives at conckisitjns that spiritual tive strongly questions the existence of a sepa-
experiences are merely halhicinations. free will rate, non-material realm of the soul by which
does not exist, sin and personal responsibilily certain domains of human behavior and experi-
are a myth, and human behavior is entirely ence can retnain unaffected by changes in brain
determined by biological and physical laws. function. At the veiy least, we should be uncom-
Proposition 1 is a statement of body/soul (or fortable with simple answers regarding the
body/mind) dualism that has been the predomi- nature of the hutnan .souL Here is a form of dis-
nant Christian view for much of the last millen- sonance calling for tuning of some kind,
nium. Dualism has its primary rotns in llie
teachings of Plato, St. Augustine, and Descartes. Nonreductive PhysicaUstn
Here soul (or mind) is presumed to be a non- I h e alternative to dualism is whoHsm (or
material entity with a realm of activity and agen- monism), a view that considers humans to be a
cy separate from, but interacting with, the single entity. One version of monism is called
physical body. However, such body-soul dual- "nonreductive physicalism," "Physicalism" refers
118 RESONANCE: A MODEL FOR REI_ATING

to the assumption that it is not necessary to pos- human beings compared to animals, including
tulate the existence of a second nonphysical other primates. The enhanced capacities ftjr
entity, the soul or mind, to account for human relatedness are manifest in our relationships with
capacities and distinctiveness. Soul (or mind) is other persons, our relationship with ourselves
physiologically embodied. A "nonreductive" ver- (our inner life), and our relationship to God. I
sion of physicalism presumes that, despite the have proposed that "soul" is an aspect of human
physical nature of humankind, human behavior nature (more clearly designated as ".soulishness")
cannot be exhaustively explained by analysis at not a distinct part of a person, and that this
lower levels (neurobiology). Our lower-level aspect is commensurate with our unusual capaci-
neurobiological functioning is influenced (in a ties lor relatedness.
top-down manner) by the more global human
proces.ses of thinking, rea.soning, and deciding. Finding Resonance between Nonreductive
Thus, there are causal properties of mintl that Physicalism ami Wesleyan Theology
emerge from the complexities of brain function- Finally, since this issue is about Wesleyan the-
ing that cannot be reduced to the activity of ology, I will .speculate on the following ques-
tions: Does a non-dualist portrait of human
brain modules or groups of neurons. Thinking
nature (specifically nonreductive physicalism)
and willing have a real determinative influence
find any resonance with Wesleyan theology? Is
on behavior.
the theology of Wesley more or less hospitable
Thus, statements about the physical nature of to an account of human nature in which soulish-
human beings made from the perspective of ness is understood as an embodied quality of
biology or neuroscience are about exactly the personal relatedness?
same entity as statements made about the soulish
Remember that the primary goal of the Reso-
or spiritual nature of persons from the point of
nance Mt>del is not to have the various domains
view of theology or religious traditions. When
say exactly the same thing. In this sense, they do
we talk of "".souls" we are talking about whole not have to integrate. What is necessary is that
persons. One might say, ""We are .souls; we don't there is perceived resonance and coherence
have souls." between the perspectives. However, achieving
But is there any r e s o n a n c e to be found resonance may require some amount of adjust-
between a nonreductive physicalist account of ment of the interpretive "dials" and tuning of the
human nature and a Biblical understanding of "signal" (within the acceptable ranges of inter-
persons? Biblical scholars have dealt in-depth pretatitjn of the authoritative data within the par-
with the issues and problems of a Biblical view ticular domain) such that greater resonance can
of human nature. There are tho.se who believe be perceived.
dualism is the predominant view, and those who It is fairly clear from his writings that Wesley
favor moni5m. Among the latter is New Testa- was not a physicalist, but rather a dualist. He
ment .scholar Joel Green (Green, 1998, 2000, most often expressed his theology in dualist cat-
2002), who suggests that the Bible devotes little, egories. For example, in one of his sermons
if any, attention to theoretical or speculative Wesley states:
analysis of such issues as monism vs. dualism.
However, according to Green, the dominant For no bcxly, or matter of any kind,
view in Scripture is a monistic account of the can be sinful: Spirits alone are capa-
human person that places a premium on human ble of sin. Pray in what part of the
relatedness to God, to other humans, and to all body should sin lodge? It cannot
of creation (Green, 2000). kxlge in the skin, nor in the muscles,
or nerves, or veins, or arteries; it can-
This reference by Green to the critical role of
not be in the bones, any more than
relatedness in a Biblical definition of human
in the hair or nails. Only the soul can
nature is consistent with a position 1 have devel-
be the .seat of .sin. (We.sley, lH72a)
oped in previous papers (Brown, 1998a, 2002,
2003, 2004). I have argued that the qualities of However, de.spite a fairly clear commitment to
human nature that have been traditionally dualism, Wesley believed in a ver}' close interde-
attached to the concept of a soul can be pendent relationship between body and soul. In
accounted for (within a monist Christian anthro- fact, passages like the following suggest that
pology) by recognition of the exponential Wesley was .somewhat uncertain, and at times
increase in the capacities for relatedness in inconsi,stent, regarding the body/soul issue. In
WARREN S. BROWN 119

his sermon "Wbal is Man?" he specuhilfs aboiil beings for relatedness rests on the enhancement
the location of the "thinking principle": and complex interactions of critical cognitive
... it seems to be situated in some capacities: language, a theory of mind, episodic
part of the head; but whether in the memory, conscious top-down executive func-
pineal gland, or in any part of the tions, and a future orientation. Similarly, Wesiey's
brain, I am not able to determine. concepts of tempers can be understood as reso-
But further; This inward principle, nant with modern concepts from cognitive neu-
wherever it i.s lodged, is capable, not roscience of procedure knowledge, automaticity,
only of thinking, but likewise of affect memories, and somatic markers (Strawn &
love, haired, joy, sorrow, desire, Brown, 2004). For maximal resonance, a nonre-
fear, hope, and a whole train of ductive neuroscience would need to demon-
other inward emotions, which are strate that tbese buman functions and properties
commonly called passions or affec- are tbe products of our physical selves, but are,
tions. They are styled, by a general nevertheless, emergent properties that are
appellation, the will; and are mixed causally efficacious in a manner not reducible to
and diversified in a thou>sand ways. "nothing but" ibeir underlying biology. Tbis mes-
And they seem to be the only spring sage seems to be increasingly what is being
of action in that inward principle I broadcast from the most recent research regard-
call the soul. (Wesley, 1872b) ing the cognitive neuroscience of higher human
capacities.
Here ihe bead (we presume the brain) is seen In summary, this foray into dualism, nonreduc-
to be the location for all the functions of the soul tive physicalism, and Wesleyan anthropology
that Wesley can imagine. In fact, the last sen- .suggests the value of the Resonance Model. Wes-
tence of this quote suggests that "the soul" and ley's dualism makes it difficult to integrate his
this embodied "inward principle" are equivalent. theology witb the pbysicalist understanding of
Wesley continues later In [he sermon: persons that emanates from cognitive neuro-
... I cannol but believe, this self- science. Nevertheless, we can find a great deal
moving, thinking principle, witb all of resonance between a nonreductive form of
its passions and affections, will con- pbysicalism that places emphasis on the relation-
tinue to exist, although the body be al capacities of human beings and tbe wbole of
mouldered into dust. Indeed at pre- Wesleyan tbougbt, Tbe Resonance Model, a
seni this body is so intimately con- derivative of tbe Wesleyan Quadrilateral, makes
nected with the soul that I seem lo it possible botb to recognize the autbority of
consist of both. In my pre.sent state sucb different domains as neuroscience and
of existence. I undoubtedly consist Wesleyan theology, and to tune tbe signals from
of both soul and body: And so 1 each domain in our effort to find greater reso-
.shall again, after the resurrection, to nance without violating their integrity.
all eternity. (Wesley, 1872b)
Here Wesley seems to vacillate between .sou! as References
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guishable unity. In this sermon, Wesley reads Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Pre.ss.
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Basil Blackweli, Research Institute. He is also a member of the VCLA
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