The View from Shepherd's Knoll ...

Connections: Chasm Bridges

From: PSCF 53 (June 2001): 71

As a bridge spans a chasm and joins two isolated regions, so connections bring unity to fragmented knowledge. Our cerebral cortexes contain large association areas that are functionally wired to connect isolated bits of sensory inputs. These connections allow purposeful response to our environment. For example, seeing a coiled timber rattlesnake beside one's path in the woods and simultaneously hearing her distinctive warning rattle elicit an acute avoidance response from an appropriately programmed and connected brain.

As our seven- and nine-year-old daughters mature, they consistently illustrate the power of connection. Adopted three years ago from Ukraine, they were challenged to adapt to a new culture, to learn English, to experience Christian family living, and to rediscover bonding as a basis of security. Experiencing connections became the means of growth. Associating strange-sounding English words with familiar objects formed the early steps in learning a new language. Experiencing consistently unavoidable consequences that followed both wise and unwise choices connected the principle of "sowing and reaping" with personal responsibility. Posing insightful childish questions that attempted to connect new information with the familiar provided the basis for making sense of their new world.

As scientists much of our academic training was based on a narrow discipline perspective. Reductionism within scientific disciplines has proved to be a fruitful scientific paradigm in the modern era by stimulating the rapid advance of scientific knowledge and technology. Yet, we have also experienced nature's coherent continuity. During the past few decades, significant scientific advancements have emerged from transdisciplinary approaches and have created new fields such as physiological psychology, molecular biology, and environmental science. In our own scientific society, we have gone further to connect our faith perspective to our work in science. Working from a Christian faith perspective, we understand that design, unity, and rational order in the cosmos reflect the activity of a creating God. To study nature without considering the Creator is to fragment knowledge.

In this "Connections" thematic issue, four writers advance bridging concepts that illustrate the interconnectivity of reality. David Glanzer describes a concept of mind that links biological brains within a community of persons and joins the immanent flow of spirit. Donald Calbreath emphasizes a human behavior that is more than deterministic biochemical function and is consequently accountable for actions. To bridge quantum mechanics and metaphysics, Hyung Choi suggests replacing material and supernatural distinctives in science with new paradigms that involve knowledge of the unseen. Finally, William Struthers explores consciousness, not only as the mind/brain/soul link, but as rooted in relationship, thereby connecting consciousness with others, with the environment, and with God.

Jocund Reading,

Roman J. Miller, Editor