“Hearts and kidneys are tinker toys! I am talking about the central nervous system!” Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, F.N. (Famous Neurologist).
Of course that’s the movies and has nothing whatsoever to do with real life. Right?
I think so to until a couple of days ago sitting in front of this thing.
My index finger clicking away, I skim across a screen full of print about some conference of BBs (Big Brains) somewhere who get together to tell themselves and anyone else who listens that time has come to change the way we think about, well, stuff like thinking, and all that. This happens a couple of years ago, but is still around so I can click on it and wonder what’s going through their minds. I still don’t know. But, as I read along I get the creepy feeling that me and everyone else will be in for a lot of trouble someday soon.
Somewhere on the screen is one of those blue things that when you put your clicker on it takes you to another place, and I read about another bunch of BBs who are almost right now gathering together to figure out how, as one of them says, Neuroscience…which is all about what goes on inside our heads…should start studying what causes us to be bad; what’s up inside our brain that makes the train go off the tracks and someone kills someone, or dreams up trading in sub-prime mortgages. They think they can find it and do something to switch it off, or something like that.
One of these BBs in this first thing I’m looking at is a guy named Dennet from Harvard. They have a film clip of him. So, I look at it and Dennet is talking about religion being a “natural” thing, and it being something we, men and women, boys and girls, invented and developed over the years, because, I think, we couldn’t find that spot, the “E” spot, in our brains. He has a picture of a cow on a screen and says religion is like cattle, honest!, because it used to be something a long time ago, and down through the years, we tinkered with it and now its something else; like all cows were aurochses once, and all wheat was triticale, and, I guess, all bubble gum was chicklets “back in the day”. (OK, I’m thinking as far as it goes. It’s like detailing your 55 Chevy, but who makes the aurochs and the triticale and the religion we get to re-model, is the thing he glides over, and the other BBs in the audience smile and nod like they took the Kool-Aid.)
Well, Dennet says that religion was a good thing as far as it went, but, it’s not needed now; though, he says, we ought to teach it to kids and all that so that we can, erm… You know, I really don’t know why, since I kind of get lost in the cow/religion comparison, and forget to listen to what his point is; why cows are so much like religion. Of course, it could be that cows are sacred to Hindus, but, I’m just not sure.
I guess I could go back and watch him again giving his little talk, but, nah, I wasn’t convinced then, and I won’t be convinced if I listen to him again. He’s a nice guy, though; calm, peaceful looking, even, with a little round belly, a half head of hair and a full beard. I see him sitting on a chair during Christmas season at some mall telling toddlers that Santa’s listening, and I start wondering if that’s what he thinks religion is all about. Then I wonder if that’s what he thinks it is because, I mean, he’s a Harvard professor which if it is what he thinks it is doesn’t say too much for Harvard professors.
So, I click on the blue thing. This time there aren’t any film clips of any BB Harvard professors to look at. But Dennet shows up, again, in the story talking about religion. This time he says its time for religion to be replaced by science. Or, does he say its time that science, neuroscience, started doing the right thing, here, and figuring out just where in the brain evil is located?
Anyway, this whole meeting is about that. That’s right! All of these BBs, these psychiatrists, and neuroscientists and psychologists and whatalls are convinced that there’s gonna come a time, if we just look hard enough, when we’ll find the “E” spot inside us. Then, the simple solution to the problem of evil will be to straighten the thing out, or invent some kind of drug to neutralize it.
Anyway, that’s what I take away from reading the story, and paying attention to Dennet’s comment that it’s important because up until now, the only thing we had between us and “things that go bump in the night”, or people who make them do that, is religion; which isn’t getting the job done. Admittedly I do not pay much attention to what I am reading.
Why should I?
Dennet and the other BBs are the kind of guys Doestoyevsky writes about in one of his novels, smart guys who live in Paris and know everything about everything, guys (and girls, too) concerned with the “Great Question”; that is, making the world a better place for us all: “the question of the Tower of Babel built without God, not to mount to heaven from earth, but to set up heaven on earth.” To do that they need the Perfect Man, and they aim to get down to work to see they get it.
Why not? It ain’t like it’s been tried before, is it?
I’m thinking I should fill out an application to become a Harvard professor. I got a box of tinker toys in the closet.