Patricia Hofer

Our conscious spirit

Christians, and everyone else, spend a lot of time struggling with themselves. Paul identifies the two opposing sides of this struggle as the “law working in my body” and “the law that my mind accepts” (NCV Rom. 7:22-23).

Using his background in psychology and neuroscience, Mario Beauregard describes and studies the varying distinctions between our conscious mind and our brain. In one book he reviewed and evaluated research on the treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder, the placebo effect, mystical experiences, and “near death” experiences. One of his conclusions was that human beings have a “moral conscience” that is distinct from the brain’s “innate programming.” This gives human beings “the capacity for rational and ethical behaviors” (Beauregard and O’Leary 152).

And, as a Christian, I agree. It is our consciousness or mind—our human spirit—that encourages us to do the brave thing, even when our natural instinct is to run in terror. It is consciousness that moves us to kindness when the brain’s more natural response is retaliation. I see consciousness, the individuality of our spirit, as our inheritance from God. It is the Creator’s “breath of life,” as a God-inspired Hebrew writer described it in Genesis (2:7).

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