Hardwired to Connect
the New Scientific Case for Authoritative Communities

[COMMENT: "Hardwired to Connect" is a MUST READ.  Available from Emmaus Ministries.  See below.  See also Watch Out for the Children from same source.] 

a Review by F. Earle Fox

Hardwired to Connect is an eighty-page book (8.5 x 11) detailing the empirical evidence for the sacramental worldview, i.e., the understanding of the physical world as that by which souls communicate.  The day of behaviorism is about over, at least for those who have not numbed their minds.  We are watching the recovery of the soul -- i.e., the soul is becoming again an intellectually respectable item for public discourse. 

The findings of this book have been around for some time, but never (so far as I know) have they been gathered together and had the intellectual fire-power as in this report.  The notions discussed in this report has the potential of leading us into one of the deeply significant movements of our time.  The Intelligent Design (ID), the home schooling, and the recovery of our Constitution movements are going to change the landscape of Western culture. 

The recovery of the soul will be in that class, maybe at the head of the class. 

The recovery of a sacramental worldview will have that same kind of seismic impact, countering a century of growing materialism and behaviorism, reinstating persons (not things, such as atoms) as the basic building blocks of reality.  All of these are fundamental to the restoration of the Biblical worldview

The (Anglican, at least) definition of a 'sacrament' is 'an outward and visible sign of something inward and invisible'.  The bread and wine of Holy Communion are the outward and visible sign of the presence of Christ.  Our bodies are the outward and visible signs of our souls. My soul is not simply a behaviorist function of my body.  It has a reality of its own.  I am a somebody apart from my body.  But if my body walks out of the room, you expect me to walk out too.  My body is the sacrament of my soul.   

 

The book makes two main points: 

(1) that our brains are hardwired to connect, i.e., to engage in relationships , and

(2) that in order for us to become secure, stable, mature adults, we must be embedded and raised in authoritative communities. 

The first of the "ten main planks" of the report (p. 15) states that "the mechanisms by which we become and stay attached to others are biologically primed and increasingly discernible in the basic structure of the brain".  That is an astonishing claim in the face of the behaviorist drift of the last century. 

The word 'connect' might be a bit misleading.  'Relate' would be more accurate.  Connections have a mechanical flavor.  Relationships tend to be more personal. 

The book notes that America is in a crisis of mental and emotional health of significant proportions (a crisis much of which supports world antagonism against the Judeo-Christian view of things), and suggests that the main cause is the breakdown of connectedness, i.e., of significant relationships.  They include two kinds of significant relationships:  1. other people, and 2. connections to moral and spiritual meaning.  

Authoritative communities, communities of moral and spiritual meaning, require authority, a clear distinction between right and wrong, and they require the old, tried and true fathering principle of discipline. 

The study notes that the old "nature vs. nurture" debate has become irrelevant because it is clearly a case of both/and, not either/or.   Evidence proves that not only does our brain-wiring influence our behavior, attitudes, emotions, and choices (as behaviorists like to show us), but that also our behavior, attitudes, emotions, and choices influence the physical structure of our brains.  The influence goes both ways.  From the behaviorist point of view, there is no soul, no independent self, to influence the brain.  Our sense of "self" is simply the phenomena which floats off the working of the brain. 

So the "hardness" of the wiring is not so hard as we once had thought.   It yields to things such as will, determination, intelligent choices, etc.  Things of the soul, the self.   We can change old habits and develop new ones which change the very structure of the brain and other neurological aspects of our selves -- which then become the new hardwiring determinant of ourselves.  But always changeable. 

Some implications of these facts will affect another seismic shift, the Intelligent Design vs. Evolution movement.  The fact that our intentional behavior can affect our hardwiring suggests that (within species, at least), the very direction of change could be directional, not just random. 

The so-called hard-wiring is, then, not determinative in the old Newtonian materialist and behaviorist sense.  It functions, it would seem, more like a tail on a kite, or a keel on a boat, keeping the kite/boat from flipping madly about, thus staying more focused in a discernible direction.  The truth is not that the self cannot change direction, but rather that it must exert effort over time to do so.  Self-discipline (of all things!).  The hard-wiring has the effect of tying us to a discernible past, yet at the same time of freeing us into the future. 

And, indeed, any rational life would require a tail on the kite of our lives.  We need stability of the past or we cannot rationally choose into the future.  Only so can we have a rational trajectory. 

That is precisely what the Biblical sacramental worldview would predict.  The seeming juggernaut of secular materialism is falling apart at the seams.  And this report is one more indication of the coming restoration of the common sense fact and logic approach to life which is inherent to the Bible (despite the monumental head-in-the-sand foolishness of most Christians over the last several centuries -- see The Authority of the Bible in a Scientific Age).

These are not new ideas, but this is perhaps the first time they have been put together in a very readable and powerful manner.  This report should be read by every clergyman, by every parent, by every spiritual and public-policy leader in America. 

 

[Hardwired to Connect is available from Emmaus Ministries at $7 post paid.  You can get it at the same price from the publisher, but you pay postage.  To purchase, send check for $7 to Emmaus Ministries

Published by the Institute for American Values, 1841 Broadway, Ste 211, New York, NY 10023   tel: 212 246-3942, fax: 212 541-6665.  email: charity@americanvalues.org]

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