Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Holy Trinity In Your Brain

Paul D. MacLean created a theory of the triune brain  where he subdivided the brain into three functioning parts each built from one another in an evolutionary timescale. One brain atop another. Three distinct brains. I'll briefly go over these and cover why they relate to the Holy Trinity in Christianity.

The oldest and most ingrained is the reptilian complex which deals with elements of aggression, violence, and instincts. Next is the paleomammalian complex, otherwise known as the limbic system, which deals with many things but chief among them is emotion.

I've written before that humans are social animals and we form emotional bonds and have emotions because they serve some function. There is a reason we have emotions. The limbic system is largely responsible for these emotions and for the pair bonds we form. It can easily be termed the emotional nest of the brain.

Lastly is the newest brain and what some might consider the best brain. This is the neomammalian complex, otherwise known as the neocortex. It's the part of the brain responsible for science, technology, and philosophy. It deals with logic, reason, and abstraction. The development of this part of the brain has given rise to nearly all of technological progress.

The Father is often portrayed as God Almighty. He is in Heaven and passes judgement on others. Cold, remorseless calculation could be another way to describe the Father. This is the neocortex, the father. While all brains might be equal, some brains are more equal than others. The neocortex is more equal.

Jesus is the son.  He's the second part of the trinity. This is the part of God heard about in today's church. He is endless, boundless love. God is love. You don't need to dig too deep in a church to hear this message. It's broadcast nearly every sunday and people line up to hear about it. It's no wonder that church pews are packed with women especially when the message is often centered on the God is love meme. This is the part of the trinity which deals with the paleomammalian complex, the amygdalae, and emotions.

Last, we have the Holy Spirit. Even in the Christian Community this is a nebulous, abstract concept. There are multiple theories of what this is. I've heard some state that the Holy Spirit is the church or that the Holy Spirit is the world or that the Holy Spirit is the essences of God's love instilled in people and spread when they perform charity and compassion. It's most related to the reptilian complex not because the holy spirit is seen as violent but because of its mystery. Instinct is behavior we exhibit that was never taught to us. We just do it as a babe suckles to a teet without bein shown how. We imbibe these instinctual behaviors without really knowing or understanding where it comes from. The Holy Spirit just takes over, as they say.

Continue Reading: My Tumble Down the Rabbit Hole


  1. How about a comparison of one of the Norse Trinities (Odin, Ve and Vili) to the tri-partite aspect of the brain?

    Odin coresponds to rage of the limbic system (one of his names is 'Wod' which means fury), Ve corresponds to sense perception of the mid-brain, and Vili to thought (literally 'Will') of the neo-cortex.

    1. that would be hard for me because I don't know much about norse religion. It sounds interesting though.