Split brain with one half atheist and one half theist

Here’s a fascinating snippet from neurologist VS Ramachandran, talking about a split-brain patient. The patient’s right brain believed in God, but the more rational left brain was atheist.

Ramachandran points to the obvious theological problem of what, in the Christian view, happens to such a person after they die; does the right brain go to heaven and the left to hell?

But more interesting to me with split brain studies is how they reveal the fictional nature of the self. Split brain patients clearly cannot have one self, since the two parts of the brain function independently and cannot communicate directly with each other, and yet people with split brains have a sense of a unitary self. I

n my book, I show how the left brain of split-brain patients tries to explain away (and thus take the credit for) actions that the right brain has initiated. It seems to me that it’s this “plagiarism” that constitutes the sense of a unitary self. The left brain is, I believe, unaware that it’s a plagiarist — it’s simply deluded. In part, I suspect that stream-entry, which involves the loss of the belief in a unitary self, involves the left brain finally “getting” that it doesn’t run the whole show that we call “the self.” It comes to realize that it’s simply observing, labeling (and often taking the credit for) actions initiated outside of conscious awareness.

4 comments to Split brain with one half atheist and one half theist

  • geneiusxie

    I think this is the best answer so far:

    “no if someone has a mental disability, or has never been able to conciously accept Christ, then God will have pity. He does not throw people who are ill or who are never able to hear His word into the pits of hell. And furthermore, belief in God goes beyond the mind. Yes your mind may be convinced you believe, but faith in God is an inner transformation and an outward action of faith (putting hope in God, doing good deeds) as is love”

    I think to truly accept God, you need to surrender everything to Him. And so the split-brain might not have given it all to Him, so he is considered a nonbeliever. However, God knows that he was not able to believe in Him because he has no control of half of his brain, and he is forgiven the same way babies are forgiven if they die young.

    Remember that Jesus said that those who are given little are expected of little.

  • Svein Olav Nyberg

    I remember this video, but on seeing it again it surprises me that it is the left hemisphere that is the theist and the right hemisphere that is the atheist. Given the way functions are split between the two –or at least the way it is commonly believed that they are– shouldn’t theism rather belong to the right hemisphere?

  • Ghislain

    It just means that belief in a god is like any other belief. Assuming that a god must exist to explain away the problem is not necessary.

  • Jeremy Birmingham

    It is not surprising that the left hemisphere is theist because it is the left hemisphere which makes up stories to explain things it does not believe, stories which the individual accepts as fact despite the fact they are made up on the spot. The right hemisphere is more intuitive, more feeling, it deals with what we see, not what we make up, therefore atheist.

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