Taking the Low Road: The Neurobiology of Sin and Brokenness

Ever wondered if science can actually validate or stand side by side with issues of faith, particularly when it comes to the nature of sin and relationships? Well, if you have, or even if you have not, the video I am posting this week will hopefully get your mind churning about the relationship between our sin nature and science. This clip is from one of my favorite neurobiologist, Dr. Dan Siegel, who has written some great books (The Developing Mind and Parenting from the Inside Out ) on understanding the mind and the development of the brain, specifically how our emotional systems develop in the brain. In this clip Dan is describing our neurobiological response to receiving what may be an insult, judgement, or some other negative message from a person we perceive as caring for us. This response is commonly referred to as "the low road", which is a neural circuitry consisting of mostly "reptilian-like" responses to our perception of threat. These responses work great when we are facing real threats, like a poisonous snake or some other threat, but not so much for building relationships with people we love and care for, and want to be loved by.

At one point Dan describes these responses as the activation of "an evolutionarily ancient circuit of self-defense that may have no boundaries". As a Christian, I would refer to this as "sin", particularly when it involves another person. Though Dan is not a believer, I think a great deal of his research actually points to the truths outlined by Scripture about our defensive, boundary-less system that causes relational disconnect. Furthermore, I think that his answers and methods for handling these issues can be a fantastic, practical addition to what we already know about dealing with relational sin by way of the Bible. If you are dealing with issues of defensiveness, criticism, and other forms of negative communication in your personal life, your marriage, or your family, I can help.