Renovating Our Images of God––and of Ourselves: Neuroscience and Whole-Brain Meditation

This paper proposes meditation on selected scriptures as one possible way of addressing a problem identified by the Baylor Religion Survey (2006): the disconnect, for many American Christians, between stated propositional beliefs about a benevolent God, and implicit mental models of God as angry, critical, or distant. Possible causes of this disconnect, and negative consequences for personal piety and programs of discipleship and spiritual formation are suggested. A version of lectio divina ––“whole-brain” meditation––combining scriptures emphasizing the benevolence of God (Table 2) together with a picture of a smiling Jesus is presented. This method attempts to integrate reflection on scripture with insights from neuroscience––e.g., implicit memories, neural mirroring, and attachment theory. Further research is suggested to experimentally test the hypothesis assumed in this paper––that meditation on scriptures emphasizing the benevolence of God may mitigate or reframe negative images of God rooted in dysfunctional childhood and family relationships, or abusive experiences with authority figures.