Text Size: Zoom In

Brain Scans, Free-will, and Fate


Zechariah 9:9

A fascinating, though disturbing, article in the BBC online News Magazine asks the question, “What Can a Brain Scan Tell us About Free Will?”

In weighing the struggle of science, theology, and philosophy to explain the relationship between mind, matter, free will, and fate the article describes changes in behavior that turn out to be related to brain tumors and body chemistry.

We’ve been talking about how God can be compassionate and merciful while being committed to punishing sin (Exodus 34:5-7); how, while acknowledging that the sins of the fathers weigh on their children, that same God doesn’t want us using that fact as an excuse for our own choices (Ezekiel 18:1-3) (Ezekiel 18:20-21); and that how heaven views our hearts may, therefore, may be very different than how we do.

It’s clear from the early pages of Genesis, that one bad decision of Adam and Eve had disastrous effects on their children, the first of whom, in an envious rage, murdered his younger brother. Yet God talked to  an emotionally disturbed son as if he had a choice about how he was going to handle his anger (Gen 4:6-7).

So what are we to do with all of this?

  1. Damaged state
  2. Fallen inclinations
  3. Limited knowledge of others and ourselves
  4. Accountability to an all-seeing God
  5. Personal choice

Seems to me that if all of this doesn’t help us to see our need for the mercy and help of God, then it probably shows that we aren’t yet seeing the extent of our problem. How does it hit you?

Vote on whether you think this post is something you'll be thinking about:
Vote This Post DownVote This Post Up (+21 rating, 21 votes)

61 Responses to “Brain Scans, Free-will, and Fate”

  1. SFDBWV says:

    August 1 1966 Charles Whitman entered the University of Texas Bell Tower and acting as a sniper killed 14 people for no apparent reason whatsoever.

    He was shot and killed by Austin Police officer Huston McCoy. An autopsy of Charles showed that he had a tumor in his brain that could have altered his thinking.

    It is not news that brain tumors or brain injuries result in altered personalities.

    I remember a TV commercial for one of L Ron Hubbard’s books and the introduction of Scientology; in the commercial a college professor is holding a human brain and is telling the class “all you think, all you know all you ever will be is here in this organ!” slamming it down on the table in front of him. The subsequent commercial gives a different view of life beyond what the professor had stated.

    I actually know nothing of Scientology’s teachings or views, but I have to agree that there is a difference between the physical and the spiritual.

    God is a Spiritual being, yet all that He created He created both in the spiritual and the physical, they are separate yet one.

    When we study God or our place in His creation, we have to see there is a connection between the two; each effect each other.

    Our spirit or attitude can make us sick or well, I believe this because I have seen it in action. However for whatever reason we get sick our sicknesses can alter our spirit or attitudes.

    Older cultures report stories of old people just lying down and *willing* themselves to die, ready to go, they do.

    Why would we think that things spiritual and things physical aren’t connected? God made the spiritual physical and did so in all of creation and just to prove it He became flesh to teach us this truth.

    We are always at the mercy of God, in both areas; His will, His choices, His desires always will over ride ours leaving us to His mercy.


  2. Bill says:

    Good Morning All!

    @Steve, the particular religion you mentioned is litigious, difficult to extricate oneself from, and very, very expensive…costing people tens of thousands of dollars to move up the scale toward (supposedly) being clear thinking and free from their pasts.

    There’s usually a reason, an agenda, behind articles in the media. I believe the purpose of the article Mart wrote about this morning is to remove the spiritual and metaphysical from consideration, to reduce people to biochemical impulses. Doing that would cut God out of the equation entirely.

    Like my comments the other day (the illusion of opposites), I believe people today have been conditioned to think it terms of either/or. Doubt that? Read comments on Facebook. Listen to conversations in restaurants. Get into a debate with a family member or friend. The assumption if you are not THIS is that you are THAT. No middle ground.

    Therefore, people will read the article and think, “See? God doesn’t exist. People act on biochemical impulses. No demons. No spiritual reasons. No direction from God. Pure physical responses to something within our bodies and brains.”

    That’ll become fodder for people to pooh-pooh the idea that God plays a part in our lives, that we are, in fact, spiritual beings residing within a physical body.

    Both, rather than either/or.

    Just watch how many times people refer to articles like this one when they try to “prove” God doesn’t exist.


  3. swwagner says:

    Anything that mankind “discovers” in the physical realm (be it penicillin or behavior changes) is no surprise to God. He already knows all about all the connections between the physical and spiritual, mental and physical. To me, the more scientists learn, the more we see God. All of nature points to God. We are God’s creation and everything about us (except our sin) points to God since we are created in His image.

    God already knows that physical and mental illness changes behavior and attitude. Because I struggle personally with both of these illnesses (as do several people in my family) I know that God overrides all obstacles to reach into the darkness and bring us safely to Himself.

    My illnesses are held at bay with medications that God has graciously allowed man to discover so I am forever thankful to scientific study. Eventually, illness will win the battle and my body will not function, my mind will grow more feeble and confused. However, God holds us safely…”to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord”.

  4. SFDBWV says:

    Good morning Bill, just for the record I am not nor would I ever advocate Scientology, I was only giving an example of the difference of what real science thinks and what we see as a spiritual truth.

    In regards to Scientology as a religion, any religion that doesn’t put Jesus first or denies Jesus of Nazareth to be the Son of God and our Savior is the red flag for me and any further look into such beliefs would just be purely academic; though I also keep in mind the advice of Wisdom and recall that one can not take fire to their bosom without being burned.

    So even in the innocent academic approach to learn of the enemies of Christ I must do so with all caution.

    The bigger question before us may be why God allows a good person, even a good Christian, to suffer a reversal of personality by either a trauma to the brain, a tumor, a chemical imbalance or dementia. We place our lives and our eternal futures in the hand of God through unseen faith; more people I think ask where God is in these circumstances then from any organized effort by other beliefs.


  5. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends –

    This is a wonderfully provocative subject! It does get to the daily struggles of being human on planet earth. Behaving in ways we choose and behaving in ways we do not choose is the pivot of our life. (Romans 7:24, 25) It does involve body, mind and spirit. Here we are with all three “parts” inextricably woven together within us. Can we complain about being what God has made us to be?

    Your list, Mart, is particularly provocative in what it omits. Item four is stated in a way that omits God’s accountability to God’s own creation.

    1) Damaged state
    2) Fallen inclinations
    3) Limited knowledge of others and ourselves
    4) Accountability to an all-seeing God
    5) Personal choice

    If we were only “accountable” to God – we would all cave from the unbearable weight of our own nature. God looks with compassion and love upon us – as God sees into the depths of our being. Even with limited knowledge, in our fallen and damaged condition grace flows to us from God. The message of faith, hope and love strikes the earth and penetrates the darkness.

    The very telling of the Gospel story (OT or NT) brings light to the teller and the hearer. I have my own basket-full of challenges and discouragement. Last evening following a particularly trying encounter with a fellow traveler, I read this:

    “I can’t impress this on you too strongly. God is looking over your shoulder. Christ himself is the Judge, with the final say on everyone, living and dead. He is about to break into the open with his rule, so proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge… Don’t ever quit. Just keep it simple.” 2 Tim 4:1,2

    This is a message of hope to me. Perhaps you will say there is something wrong with my brain. But consider the following:
    “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jer 29:11 Then, there is:
    John 14:18
    Matthew 28:20
    It is not my intention to “proof-text” faith, hope and love! How could you miss it in the Word of God?

    Look up, Pilgrim!

  6. Bill says:

    @Steve, no need for the disclaimer. I know you’re not advocating Scientology any more than I advocate Zen when I describe the practices of Zen Buddhists. It’s just a point of reference, a way to illuminate a discussion, like quoting Shakespeare or Woody Allen. :)

    The problem of pain and suffering (including old age and death) is one we will never figure out in this lifetime. And yet, it was this that caused Siddhartha to ponder it until he eventually became the Buddha, the Awakened One.

    So we’re not the only ones who wonder what’s up with all of this. People have been asking these questions for thousands of years.

    All without answer.

    Because no answer is possible.

    Some use our lack of answer to gleefully proclaim, “See? There is no God!” others, who are believers, use the unanswerable to get really strange, “What am I doing wrong that God punished me with cancer?”

    The best answer to the questions of pain, suffering, disease, old age, and death is this: “It’s not ours to know.”

    That’s more of a Zen answer than a typically Christian one. But it’s the best answer I can give. We don’t know. We will never know. It’s not ours to know.

    What we do know is the grand sweep of the Bible…

    * In the beginning, God
    * Adam and Eve fell from grace
    * Pain, suffering, disease, old age, and death entered the world
    * Jesus came to restore our relationship with God
    * One day, we will be “absent from the body…present with the Lord.”

    That’s all we know. And, practically speaking, we only actually *know* one part of that: “Pain, suffering, disease, old age, and death” exist. The rest we believe, we take on faith.

    There’s so much we don’t know. Thankfully, there’s a lot that we believe that helps us overcome the unknowns.


  7. remarutho says:

    Hey Swwagner!

    Thanks for your testimony. Integration of all the streams of influence upon us produces — integrity! Rock on. Maru

  8. fadingman says:

    From a materialistic viewpoint, everything happens as a results of an incredibly complex chain of events. On its own, the human brain operates like a computer program. Given how it is currently wired, and given the same inputs, it will always produce the same results.

    However, when you factor in the immaterial side of our nature which science ignores (i.e. our spirits), our actions can become unpredictable from a materialistic perspective.

    Our spirits (with the power of the Holy Spirit) should be controlling our bodies. I think this is part of what it means when we are instructed to not have the mind of the flesh, but the mind of the Spirit. (Romans 13:14, Galatians 5:16-17, Ephesians 2:1-3)

    …a bit too short of a post. I could go into a lot more detail, but I have to go to work. :(


  9. remarutho says:

    What a beautiful burro (see photo)! The message is so welcome:

    “Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
    Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
    See, your king comes to you,
    righteous and victorious,
    lowly and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

    He tells us his yoke is easy and his burden is light.


  10. remarutho says:

    Meaning the King, not the donkey! :o)

  11. BruceC says:

    My wife’s Mom took DES while she was pregnant with her. It left my wife with a chemical imbalance that has led to depression, she has a learning disability, numerous miscarriages, pre-cancer cells on her uterus that had to be frozen, and others that were on a list she was given years ago as part of a lawsuit. But she also knows that she is a sinner and that she needed Christ to be forgiven. It has not stopped her from knowing right and wrong in God’s eyes. She does have some difficulty grasping things at times that she feels are hard for her to understand.
    We once attended a church with a woman that had received a head injury at an earlier age. She had some difficulties because of it but she too was well aware of her need for the Lord and of what sin is. The problem she and my wife shared is that many(even in the church) looked upon them as if all they suffered from was their fault and that they were “less” than others. Or that their story was a “cop out”.

    I have dealt with many men that were “burned out” from drug use and they know they will never be the same. Some don’t. In their case they made the choice to use drugs. In my wife’s case and our friend’s, they did not make the choice. It just happened.
    We are scratching the surface even today of what damage to our brain and system can do. But I believe that in most cases it does not negate the knowledge of right and wrong.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  12. oneg2dblu says:

    fadingman… thanks for sharing those verses.
    It brings to light the all creation, even those who feel they are awakened by their own thoughts, are subject to God’s wrath, the very place we all once walked, as we are all led by another spirit, even the big thinkers,until the Spirit of God dwells within us.
    That is a huge wakeup call to the rest of the world, but they aere not listening, they are too busy thinking that their wsays are right.
    Why can’t we can’t ponder our way out of this mess, or awaken God to our plight?
    Because, He already knows our destiny.
    Who is pondering an awakening whom?
    Certainly the ponderings of any man can not outweigh the
    Eternity that God has set in motion when He Created us from the dust He created, and breathed His life into us.
    He alone mixed the physical and the spiritual together, even His spittle when mixed with dust, brings healing and sight to the blind.
    All the religions of combined could not change a momet of what God has set in place before the foundations of the world.
    Ponder this in your mind, perhaps even you control enough wishful thinking to awaken you if your mind will allow it, just as Buddha’s poderings alone apparently did.

  13. swwagner says:

    I agree that being ill or addicted or disabled or abused does not keep us from knowing right from wrong. The miracle of salvation is that in spite of our circumstances, God is able to pull us from the miry clay of sin and spiritual poverty.

    Our fallen state of bad DNA, genetic pools, or location on the map play a part in who we are and the way we perceive ourselves and even God. However, God is able to overcome all boundaries. Jesus broke the chains of death, our ultimate enemy. How wonderful that our daily aches, pains, and dilemmas are understood and helped by Him as well.

  14. poohpity says:

    Yes Mart the longer I live and am more aware of the things deep down inside of me or us all, I relish God’s mercy and know with out a doubt that only with the help of God that our basic human bents can be changed. I tried very hard before I started this relationship with the Lord to change things that were passed down from heredity, chemical imbalances and personal choices but with no success. At each point that I became aware first my need for salvation but over time the Lord has not left me as He found me.

    There has been attitudes, thoughts and actions that He has worked on. Never did He ever load all the areas that needed work on me at the same time but over this process one area at a time He has worked on it seemed with a gentle, caring and loving hand as to not overwhelm me by crushing me with no hope that there was so much to be done.

    When we fail to see the extent of our own problems how can we ask for mercy and turn from them if we deny they are even there. Then even thinking that I can change them I go back to step one. God is in the business of changing us so we have nothing to boast in other than how great God is and faithful to complete His work in us. My job seems to be cling to God, not fighting against the reality of the many problems I have and to be kind to others because they are going through the same process. Some slower than others because the have yet to admit the extent of their own problems cause they would rather look at others and compare.

  15. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends –

    It seems to me the writer of the BBC (The Philosopher’s Arms) article referenced in your post, Mart, disposes of the whole free-will/determinism cum blame/praise argument with four paragraphs that can only be (politely) termed superficial. The philosopher writes:

    “The emergence of the concept of free will can be dated to about the 4th Century AD, and was an ingenious solution of Christian theologians to the so-called Problem of Evil. If God is all powerful, and God is all good, how come there is evil in the world? The answer, said Saint Augustine, is that man has free will.”

    How do we start with the question of free will – and wind up at the end of the article with a person choosing between going to the gym to work out and eating unhealthy food (potato chips)? Can this compare with Cain killing his brother Abel in a jealous rage?

    The problem of evil is real. All we can do with the BBC article is chuckle and move on to “other news,” or else think more carefully about the question. The conclusion that our lives are entirely determined leads to “anything goes” behavior and a society stripped of all restraints, because we are responsible for nothing. Embracing the conclusion that we are entirely free leads to anguish and regret and pain, because we are responsible for everything.

    God’s conversation with Cain (Gen 4:6-7) is the beginning of God’s leading in a ruined life. The “mark” upon Cain for his protection is a sign of God’s grace, it seems to me. Much later, Isaiah brings a word that rings true:

    “Come now, let us argue it out, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land, but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 1:18, 19, 20) The unfolding of God’s plan is further illuminated…How will God remove the sin from God’s fallen creation?


  16. SFDBWV says:

    One of those little *things* that caught my attention this morning is the idea that God punishes for sin. I wonder if that means in an eternal future or here and now.

    Are the consequences of sin the same as being punished for it?

    I see crime being committed every day on the news and even locally, yet I don’t see God striking any one down for it. At least not right away.

    I do see good people suffer a multitude of afflictions for no apparent reason, yet I also see evil people getting away unscathed.

    It is written that our chastisement from God is a blessing (Psalms 94:12) and in Revelation 3:19 we learn that as many as God loves He rebukes and chastens.

    In partial explanation God says in Psalms 94:13 it is so that we may be given rest *from* the days of adversity, until the *pit* be digged for the wicked.

    I must assume this is a future reference to the time of tribulation and the final judgment.

    Which brings me back to seeing how God punishes here and now for sin?

    It almost seems that God’s immediate punishment is allowing one to have their free will and then live with the results. The dividing point being some are chastised some are not, depending on their standing with the Lord.

    It is almost as if once we take on the mantle of Christ we also take on the punishment others deserve and are not given.

    More to think about in this *punishment* concept.


  17. BruceC says:


    You asked “How does it hit you?”

    Let me tell you. Often when I get upset or critical of another a little voice will say to me “And what about you Bruce?” “Are you any better?” “When did you become perfect?” Wow! When that happens it’s a real wake-up call! But then again, don’t we all require a “wake-up call” from time to time?

    When I look at the varying degrees of punishment the Mosaic Law carried I often think that those most detrimental to the smooth operation of society and general peace carried the heaviest punishment in order to deter others from doing the same.
    Yet on the other hand our Lord tells us that if we are angry with our brother we have committed murder in our hearts. Same as looking upon a woman(or man) with lust in our heart is the same as the act of adultery. So even a thought contrary to the law makes one guilty.
    Interesting topic.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  18. foreverblessed says:

    Damaged state
    Fallen inclinations
    Limited knowledge of others and ourselves
    Accountability to an all-seeing God
    Personal choice
    Seems to me that if all of this doesn’t help us to see our need for the mercy and help of God, then it probably shows that we aren’t yet seeing the extent of our problem. How does that hit me?
    That when I have handed over my life in Jesus hands, I do not live, but He lives in me, a constant state of being in mercy, in mercy He leads me, not because of anything that I do, but what He does in me. That is the ideal situation, but many times I take over, and I do it on my own, not trusting that Jesus is well capable of handling everything in my life, and of those around me. It is distrust, lack of faith that makes me err.
    I pray for more faith, for more trust.
    And this Zech 9:9 lowly and humble Jesus comes to me, in a still small voice. Not in a demanding voice,

    I thought I was not punished for past sins, they were thrown into the seam as Pooh gave Psalm 103:12
    But my knowledge is limited, I pray God will open our minds to more and more of what He wants to tell us:
    Like Job, he was suffering, not because of any sin he had done, but because through his suffering God would show the evil spirit powers how a precious child of His would react, even if he was not blessed. That a child of God is loving, not because he knows he will earn a good living, but purely out of love for His God. All these questions Job asked God, why are You doing this, I have done nothing wrong. Why are You God, so harsh on me?
    When Job saw at the end, what God’s plan in this was, he exclaimed: Job 42:3,2-6

  19. remarutho says:

    Morning All —

    Steve, you wrote:
    “It almost seems that God’s immediate punishment is allowing one to have their free will and then live with the results. The dividing point being some are chastised some are not, depending on their standing with the Lord.”

    When adversity comes, each one of us either rallies to the challenge or not. I did not know my own mettle until it was tested in the world’s ways. We are whipped and disillusioned by gritty reality. The arsenal of defenses against evil is puny until the Word of God enters our lives, it seems to me. The mark of grace upon us is the blood of the Lamb of God.

    Perhaps it is that we are strengthened in the right — we have a healthy and fully functioning conscience — and we are surrounded by a hedge. (Jeremiah 16:19; Proverbs 18:10) Consider Job or Daniel or the Apostle Paul. Just a thought.


  20. remarutho says:

    Not sure about our “standing with the Lord,” but I have experienced being strengthened to stand on account of God’s presence, when otherwise I would have collapsed.

  21. fadingman says:

    Steve wrote: Are the consequences of sin the same as being punished for it?

    Usually when we think of punishment for sin, we think of a man suffering punishment for his own sin. But sometimes we suffer the consequences of someone else’s sin. Drug babies are the first example that comes to my mind. A drug baby did not do the sin, but suffers the consequences for it. This shows a distinction between punishment and suffering.

    Jesus was the only One who was actually punished for the sins He did not commit. He did not just suffer the consequences of our sin, but bore the full wrath of God. It reminds me what Alsan said in The Magician’s Nephew in the creation story of Narnia: “Evil will come of that evil… and I will see to it that the worst falls upon myself.”

  22. poohpity says:

    Bruce, amen that still small voice in us that recognizes when God is speaking. Most have to wait until it is a sonic blast before they listen or even go to their grave never hearing, seeing or understanding. The ways of the world are a strong force and being trapped in it whether they say they are believers or not seems often the case.

    Amen forever, our need for mercy never stops as long as we live but again being blinded or deaf to that shows that we may have not matured in our faith.

    I really do not know why some feel that God is accountable to us in any way, shape or form. Does God need our counsel? He has given us the way to do things that will not hurt others, ourselves or our relationship with God but do we live them? Most times rebellion is part of our functioning but for some there will be excuses and blame for those how will they ever understand the mercy we live under? How will they show mercy if they do not know how much is shown to them? Only with the help of God are we aware and that still small voice goes unheard.

    Why has God allowed? To me it is because He does not seem to be an oppressive, dictator control freak. Why do bad things happen to good people and why do good things happen to bad people? Faith that God has ALL things in His hand and when we ask those type of questions have we really spent anytime getting to know God if we had and do not understand then ask and He will give us wisdom but not so much that we do not live our lives without faith and trust. If He gave us all the answers we may feel that we know as much as God then try to start acting as if we were.

  23. poohpity says:

    That BBC article said nothing different than what had been written by Paul to the Roman believers around A.D. 57 in Romans 7:14-23 NIV and gave us the solution in Romans 7:24-25 NIV. That is nothing different than what I experience when I make a New Years resolution that fizzles out by Feb or when I wake up everyday and say I am not going to do this or that today and yet 2 hours later I do it. It is only with the help of the Holy Spirit that we overcome because I need God, period. There are no problems in my life that He will not be there in them or take me through them or take them away which ever God deems best to do will be the best and in my faulty trust and faith I even give that to Him.

  24. poohpity says:

    Mart, in my reading this morning I ran into Jeremiah saying the same thing as Ezekiel but taking it a step further to talk about the New Covenant that God will have with His people in Jeremiah 31:29-34 NIV.

  25. oneg2dblu says:

    Thank God that He never takes the premise of responsibility from us, because He deposits His Spirit and still small voice inside us, ever promting, ever guiding, ever warning. We can not come to Him sying you left me alone to sin on my own.
    He will never leave us or forsake us, but if He truly lives in us, He will speak His Mind into ours.
    It is called the renewing of the mind, and that alone changes us from the inside as we mature into becoming more like Christ.
    To bad so many today never grow in the word, but rest in their claim to be nothing but Carnal Christians always under disciple, instead of growing victorious overcomers who are sinnig less, and yet living under His Mercy and Grace, because we are not yet perfected.
    There is quite a different mindset, where one says you are okay to stay the way you are just being carnal and waiting for something to change you, and the latter says you are making every effort to grown in Christ and the God’s Word daily.


  26. poohpity says:

    I do wait not for something but someone to change me. The foundation for that however is to realize I need changing. That is how I learned the wisdom of things like Romans 2:1 NIV. When I know there is so much work to be done in my own life I will not be so quick to judge others but rather to show mercy.

  27. remarutho says:

    Thanks for the mercy, Pooh!

    I also need a bunch myself!
    “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.” What comfort.


  28. bec4jc says:

    I am someone who needs meds for an imbalance in my brain. I’m so thankful for all your posts that have encouraged me. I’ve been struggling lately because Satan has weakened my faith or should I say stronghold on God, wondering if He really does accept me as His child and is transforming me like His son,Jesus. I’ve struggled for years with this imbalance and I will probably till I die. This infirmity includes my whole body(mind,spirit,physical). The scriptures you guys posted have built my trust in God again. God does see to it that you get the right words at the right time, for this was certainly timely for me. Thank you & God bless you all.

  29. swwagner says:


    I know exactly what you are talking about! Medication for depression is something I am well acquainted with and like you, I will take it for the rest of my life. It is no different than a diabetic needing insulin. Being in a dark place does not mean that God has forgotten you…He is keeping you even though you can’t see or feel Him.

  30. remarutho says:

    Good Morning BTA Friends —

    Thanks, Bec4jc and Swwagner, for your witness. It seems to me the place science can have in day-to-day life is real and creative! I met and prayed with a friend this week who deals with a different issue. She has just found a full-time living facility for her husband, whose Alzheimer’s is now beyond treatment. But, they have had six good years together because of the medication Fred has been taking. There is grief, but there is also gratitude for the drugs.

    My friend is a believer, so she thanks God for the science that has served her husband.


  31. SFDBWV says:

    “Brain Scans, Free will and Fate”

    As in this subject we learn that anomalies in the brain can cause total personality reversals and hinder even stop the ability to make decisions or decisions of a rational nature.

    Whose will are we then at the mercy of? Who then is accountable for the safety and wellbeing of the body including the brain?

    Is predestination the same as fate?

    In spite of what some may believe, some brain damaged people, however it comes, do not know right from wrong, good from bad or even have enough mental ability to know what to do next.

    Who are they, is the person who once was normal now gone and replaced by half a person or less?

    Against most believers I personally believe that people who kill themselves are not mentally competent or able to think rationally. Though some make their self inflected deaths sound like a *good* logical process and decision of their own.

    As simple as this is it is a well known medical fact that just the amount of sugar in your system may cause you to go into a deep depression that can lead to suicide.


    A healthy body needs a healthy diet, how many people eat a healthy diet?

    How many people have a broken body system that can not balance the chemical soup that gives the brain its ability to function as intended?

    Is this just their *fate*?

    Is their fate or ours in our control or under the control of others or of God?

    Do we make our decisions or are these decisions already played out in a scheme laid out before the foundation of the world?

    For as long as men have sat and wondered of such things there have been no answers only the questions that continue to arise.

    Believing in the Hebrew God and then of His Son Jesus of Nazareth we are able to cast away many of these questions and place them on the head and shoulders of our *Messiah* who relieves us of the burden of worrying about such high thoughts.

    However there is a danger in this as well, as if not careful we may feel we are not ever responsible for our own actions and shuffle off on Christ all of our *bad* decisions and their results.

    If you have questions or doubts, go and pray for answers from the God of the Bible in the name of Jesus of Nazareth and in time He will give you not only answers, but rest from them.

    For those among us who feel we should not concern ourselves with how others behave or think, let me remind you that this is the Christian calling to concern ourselves with the wellbeing of others not ourselves.

    If we can understand better why another *thinks* the way they do, we may be able to help them in a way they can receive our help and leading.


  32. remarutho says:

    Thanks and blessings for all who have prayed for Mitchell. He received Allie’s cremains this week. Also, there is a suspect in custody now. Mitchell is going through a very rough time. He is a veteran of Iraq. He also takes drugs for ptsd and anxiety disorder — may always take them. Maru

  33. fadingman says:


    Satan’s goal is to weaken your faith. But if you make it your goal not to worry about the strength of your faith but to keep your eyes fixed on the One you have faith in, your faith will remain strong even when you are weak.

    We’re praying for you. And what’s better, Jesus is interceding for you also. I think the most important thing He prays for is on this very subject: that your faith doesn’t fail (Luke 22:32).


  34. BruceC says:


    Good post. And it points to a need in the modern day church in our culture. That need being more understanding and compassion. And that in balance; not allowing things to be knowingly used as a crutch or excuse for behavior. And to pray for those that truly cannot help themselves. Far too may today are marginalized because they don’t seem to fit in or are different than those that do not suffer from the same condition(s).

    swwagner & bec4jc,

    I will pray for you both as that is what my wife endures.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  35. poohpity says:

    I have also suffered under the weight of depression. It always encouraged me to know I was not alone with it. David a man after God’s own heart wrote things like Psalm 6:6; 22:14 and then there was Jeremiah. Peter seems to have had poor impulse control and Paul had an unidentified thorn in his flesh. It seems that as long as human kind has been in existence there has always been some form of struggles and suffering. I have learned that they may be some of the best blessings because in them we learn to be more dependent on the Lord. In our weakness the Lord becomes strong for us and actually those who think themselves self sufficient, strong and able often depend on themselves more than God.

  36. poohpity says:

    Here are the Lyrics from a song by Laura Story called “Blessings”

    We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
    Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
    We pray for healing, for prosperity
    We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
    And all the while, You hear each spoken need
    Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

    ‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
    What if Your healing comes through tears
    What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
    What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

    We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
    We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
    We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
    As if every promise from Your word is not enough
    And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
    And long that we’d have faith to believe

    ‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
    What if Your healing comes through tears
    What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
    What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

    When friends betray us
    When darkness seems to win
    We know that pain reminds this heart
    That this is not,
    This is not our home
    It’s not our home

    ‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
    What if Your healing comes through tears
    What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near

    What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
    Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
    What if trials of this life
    The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
    Are your mercies in disguise

  37. phpatato says:

    Bec4jc, Sheryl and Deb

    I am in that group with you. I weaned myself off anti-depressant drugs about 5 years ago. I was diagnosed being clinically depressed over 20 years ago which they said rooted itself as post-partum. In truth, I think it was even before that because I had suicidal thoughts as a 14 year old. I was prescribed almost every anti-depressant drug on the market moving up to the maximum strength dosage for each one. My body would, within a year or so, build up an immunity so it was on to another type in a different family of drugs. I was even referred to a shrink who gave me a concoction of drugs – turned sour – that ended up in me being hospitalized for a week. That ended those appointments! I later learned that I was being used as a guinea pig of sorts. My last round was Effexor XR maximum dosage before I said enough and weaned myself off it..which took me almost a year to do.

    I have lingering memory issues that I know is because of years being on those drugs. What I find especially sad is that I cannot retain anything I read (I can’t tell you what my Bible reading was about last evening). Memorization…forget it.

    Based on stats in Canada, where I live, one in five adult Canadians (21.3 percent) will suffer a mental disorder in their lifetime…anxiety disorders and depression being the most common.

    Those who have never had an episode (yet) have no idea what it’s like. They think it is as easy as pull up your socks and give your head a shake. There are actually some dear Christian folks who perceive these feelings and thoughts as sinning “so you better fall to your knees and ask for forgiveness”. Like I have never done that before, having been riddled with an intense guilt, that what I felt and thought was such a disgraceful attitude for a child of God (who has the gall to call themselves a Christian) to have….that anyone solid in God’s hands would never think or talk that way.

    I realize that I may never experience a “normal” day like a “normal” person. The evil one’s taunts some days do hit their mark to wound me, to tired me out, but I AM trusting God and hold precious to me that He promised to NEVER leave me or forsake me. He reached into that dark abyss and found me. I do believe in miracles!

    Be kind in what you say or do to others. They may be in a full-out battle with something you may never know about.

  38. billystan454 says:

    Hello, brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. I too have a “mental illness”, I have been diagnosed as bi-polar. For many years I “self-medicated” with alcohol and drugs. 25 years ago God granted me the the mercy I had been praying for over many years. I entered into a rehab, and with Him at my side began the journey that would eventually lead me to the foot of His cross and salvation. Bi-polar(ism) is the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. As I would soon find out, not taking prescribed medications for this illness leads me to the “ism” I, self, me of being bi-polar.
    In the past few weeks God has revealed, what at first was hard to digest, some very important truths from His Word. 1) That God hates sin, 2) that God CANNOT lie, 3)because He cannot lie His promises are guaranteed.
    I knew all this before my journey these last few weeks, but in the same breath I did not know the full meaning.
    The word, “know” as it is written in 1 john 3:2, is way beyond anything intellectual it is 100% heart knowledge. Intellectual(ism) is from the brain, it infiltrates its every crevice, knowing with the heart can never be found faulty. Brain knowledge however is another and completely different story. How many times in man’s history has some “fact” been proven wrong. One right off the top of my head would be: we used to believe that Earth was the center of the universe, now thanks to Copernicus we know just how foolish that “fact” was. And later his theory was proven wrong, even our entire galaxy is not the center of the universe.
    Mart, for myself, I believe that God gave us both heart and mind. It is when we let our minds rule our hearts that trouble brews. I’ve heard many a pastor teach that the 18 inches between the head and the heart is the longest, toughest journey we will ever make.

  39. poohpity says:

    Pat, I too have been off meds since 2008. I had the same problems with never finding the right concoction going from one to the next only to find the same issues coming up and understanding what scripture meant by finding much help in a multitude of counselors. Learning from the Bible and those counselors I learned that not only did I have chemical imbalance but also thought imbalances which lead to many problems but only through God am I able to recognize those thoughts that lead me down the wrong path. Medication and counseling were both great helps but it was God who continually leads me in the process of healing. God is not done with me yet and He continues to give me encouragement that we ALL still can be used more thoroughly when I recognize those struggles and do not look down on others for theirs. 1 Cor 1:27-29 NIV; 2 Cor 1:3-4 NIV

  40. SFDBWV says:

    One of the very revolutionary ideas that Jesus taught to the Hebrew people was that their God was also their tender loving Father.

    Israel had grown to learn through harsh and sometimes immediate retribution that God meant what He said and said what He means and followed it up with a heavy hand.

    Suddenly here was this obviously empowered man telling them that same God is full of love and mercy and eager to forgive and restore them to Himself.

    When you read from Genesis to Revelation looking for this duality it is always present.

    If you look deeper what you see is that God our Creator indeed feels *responsible* for us His beloved creation and children.

    What seems as heavy handed may be called tough love today, but still love.

    What ever dark and dire circumstances we are in today be assured that God will make a way for our rescue albeit His way, and in His time.

    The best some of us can ever do is to just believe and live out our lives content that He is and that He cares and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel not concerning ourselves with the tunnel but straining to see the light.


  41. Artle says:

    One would have to know exactly what part of the mind a tumor affected before knowing if it affecting free will. Perhaps it let the free will loose.

    On second thought, is free will even a part of the mind?

  42. SFDBWV says:

    Artle, imagine with me for a moment, if you will, that our body was a brand new automobile.

    You are not a part of the automobile but are the driver of said car.

    Then imagine there being something wrong with the car, through no fault of your own the car can’t do what it is you want for it to do.

    This is what it is like for a person whose body, including the brain, can’t function the way they want it to, but are only able to use the body they have.

    The desire to drive is present, but the car is broken.

    “The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”


  43. Artle says:

    Steve, makes perfect sense.

    The will is of the spirit, not of the flesh. The mind is controlled by the will, like the car by the driver.

    Evidence of this is in Paul’s writings in Romans 7.

  44. remarutho says:

    Good Morning BTA Friends —

    When the trumpet blows — or even before for some of us, we will rise to life in a transformed body that has full faculty — no frayed wiring, cracked block or bent axle.

    Until then, many of us do rely upon the scientific/medical community to make the physical part of life possible or bearable. Perhaps you will own, Steve and Artle, that one may not simply get out of the vehicle assigned here and go to the dealership for another!

    Body, mind and spirit are in a very real unity here in this world, it seems. After the encounter with the angel with the wonderful name, Jacob always walked with a limp. (Gen 32:24-32) We are wounded in all areas — physical — mental and spiritual. Yet, we are blessed. Jesus walks with us.


  45. poohpity says:

    Do I have the ability to make choices? Even if someone has a tumor and they have the choice to act on something they think. Did the man act on His impulse or were there just thoughts? A child/adult will throw a tantrum if it gets them what they want.

    I served at church with adults that had moderate disabilities with around a third grade mentality or younger. The ones who were raised in families that taught their children right from wrong learned that. The others were raised with absent parents and most times threw tantrums to get what they wanted but if the response was not what they thought they tried different ways to get their goal. The ones raised with the hands on parents both are living together in an apartment because their parents knew one day they would not be around to care for them. Both have jobs one is a janitor and the other is a bag man and does odd jobs in the grocery store but it is so obvious the difference in parenting.

  46. SFDBWV says:

    Maru one of those neat things of life even in this modern world is that when that moment in earth time occurs, that you have mentioned, the auto and the driver become the “Transformer” a new type of car with the driver as an integral part making it all new and complete; all because of the Manufacturer and His Son the Dealership.


  47. poohpity says:

    I wonder if you remember about a year and a half ago I told you about Fred who was my neighbor. He was in a horrible motorcycle accident and was paralyzed on one side but had an electric wheel chair that helped him get around. He could not talk with much clarity unless you really listened and probably functioned mentally on a high school level. After trying for a half year to live on his own finally had to go to a group home but when he talked about things that were not appropriate and if the listener said something like they do not want to hear things like that he would stop but if they said nothing he would continue.

    I think sometimes it is easy out of pity to excuse wrong behavior even for those who have no disabilities to blame and make excuses rather than accept responsibility.

  48. remarutho says:

    It seems to me there are several ways we fragile human creatures can be impaired. Highway accidents, work-related, boating/skiing/hunting accidents. Not sure I could think of or list them all. The impairment that comes from assaults on brain function also include tumors, major chemical imbalances and self-administered toxins from chocolate to heroin. I have seen (I used to read the newspaper to the folks in an Alzheimer’s unit) individuals who showed major personality changes as brain function was compromised over time. One sweet old saint began to cuss like a sailor as she made the journey through dementia.

    The cases cited in Mart’s link to “The Philosopher’s Arms” article are not statistically significant. Sudden impairment by a tumor, steel rod or other head wound do not create a special moral category — separate from the common citizen. We as a society have made a way for such cases to be judged, it seems to me, though perhaps imperfectly. Each soul answers for his/her own moral choices. Impairment has not proven to be a defense or hedge against responsibility. The writer of the article mentioned in the original post is a determinist. For my part, he has not made a strong case for judging the impaired not responsible for their actions.


  49. oneg2dblu says:

    Where the mind goes, so goes the body.
    I really wonder about that car/driver relationship. you’ve provided here Steve.
    Do we take posession because we paid the full purchase price at one point and fully own our driver/owner position?
    Or are we really just leasing our driver lives through anothers purchased position, on the cross, and we actually do not yet have full responsiblity or ownership?
    Are we then actually subject to the guidelines of the lease/purchase agreement, or do we take on an, It does not matter attitude?
    Is your life/car/ driver relationship trluy yours, or does it actually belong to bank/manufacturer?
    We like to say, “It is no longer “I” that lives/drives but Christ that lives in me.” But, only when I’m found living outside the any possible contractrural guidelines.
    Then it is, Go see the owner about those things, He made the rules.
    Don’t we really just play it all to our advantage, believing whatever works for us for the moment?
    When our person/vehicle is all clean and shiny, we say I keep it that way because that is my resposibility,\.
    But when we are parked in the wrong place, damaged and dirty and leaking all over, we claim we are only leasing it. Claimimg as well,”You need to go see the dealer for any improprieties that you may see, because I take “no responsiblity” for someonelses broken things.
    We say its not me broken down on the side of the road. it is the manufacture’s defect, that caused the breakdown.
    We like the wording in Paul’s contract that says, “There is now no condemnation..
    But, we do not agree with the part that part in Hebrews 6:26,27,28,29,30,31.
    If we deliberately keep on sinnig after we have taken posession… because “that part” we do not want to live up to.
    I wonder why we only seem to claim the easy parts we choose to celebrate and see, and yet ignore all the others, never taking them for a hard ride around the bumpy and rutted block of personal responsiblity.
    I think we are all becoming “wheeler dealers” when it comes to the dealing with the “hard truth” found in the not so celebrated parts of the word.
    Happy Motoring to all!

  50. oneg2dblu says:

    Hebrews 6:26 is not what is shown but instead it shows 6:20?

  51. poohpity says:

    It may be because there is only Hebrews 6:20 there is no scripture Hebrews 6:26-31.

  52. poohpity says:

    Maru, it seems even when we are responsible for our actions whether we have all our facilities or none we can be sure of a few things one of which is if God is for us nothing can come against us. Romans 8:31-33 NIV and clinging to the thought if we anything happens to us mentally or physically nothing can separate us from God’s love. Romans 8:34-36 NIV and Romans 8:37-39 NIV.

    Some may not have the mind because it is damaged in some way to accept Christ but from the little I know about God I bet because of His heart and compassion on His creation when He takes them home they will have everything restored to functioning in a way to make them complete. Shoot as far as I know it may be those that are so weak God already has given them more that what any of us can understand.

  53. poohpity says:

    Working around those with down’s syndrome the love they have is beyond what most right minded people could ever show.

  54. remarutho says:

    Agree fully, Pooh. High functioning cognition is not required to receive and appreciate and return the love of Jesus, nor to joyfully embrace the covenant he offers.

    Downs syndrome folks are lovely to be around — wonderfully encouraging and positive people. We should all be so open and loving!


  55. oneg2dblu says:

    Thanks pooh… I meant to reference Hebrews 10.
    Don’t you just hate it when that happens.
    Human error shows its ugly face at the worst,or perhaps the best of times.
    But compared to your last comments having so much weight and favor, I would be better off on the boat to Tarsus, then to repeat/deliver that which was so heavy on my heart to share, as part of thosee unrecognized verses for today’s Christ Followers who ermbrace only the promises.
    Just for the record though, I’ll endeavor to pursue that which propels me foward to share in love those other parts of the word of God, than those you in love chose and are so easliy shared and agreed to….
    Hebrews 10:26,27,28,29,30,31.
    Makes you wonder why God would waste that much space in His word on those things which certainly are,”Out of Context” compared to the verses you’ve shared.

    How could those words ever apply to those who are already forgiven and already saved?

    Does anyone reading this suspect God has a reason for them being there?
    I know I do, so I shared them with you in love.

  56. remarutho says:

    Dear All —

    First, read:
    Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brothers,since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

    Then, read Hebrews 10:26-31

    In this way, we encourage one another!


    PS It seems to me, context is everything.

  57. poohpity says:

    Gary, I think the verses you put down are for those who have rejected the message of Christ to live back under the law and trampled the message of salvation through grace. I hope my dear brother to not do that again and when I do my children call me on it. I do not want to be that type of person that calls attention to sin in others but to show them grace and mercy. I want to share the good news that saves not the old news that kills. I do not like that kind of love, thanks anyway.

  58. poohpity says:

    Traded my guilt, shame and fear :-( for peace, joy and love :-)

  59. bec4jc says:

    Maru, thank you for your last statement. I was brought up with the first few posts and toward the last few I started to be depressed again. I started to get confused about just what I thought about being God’s child. I’m ok now, I guess it’s my infirmity(thorn in my side) that puts imbalance in my thoughts and feelings. Good thing I take medicine for it or I’d probably not be able to even post this and make any sense at all. Thank you to those that said they would pray for me, I do appreciate that very much. For now, let’s us all look up and keep on keeping on. God bless.

  60. remarutho says:

    Amen Bec4jc!

    The sacrifice already made by Jesus is superior to the prophets, the angels, to Moses himself. Jesus is a Priest and King of the highest order before the Father. In Him, we all face every infirmity and trial with joy and hope for healing and deliverance.

    Yours in Christ,

  61. short357 says:

    Thankful, Jesus is the great physician and I’m thankful he gave men and women the skill to become doctors, scientist and etc., to search and study problems with these bodies that brake down. Jesus can heal on the spot if he wants and uses the medicine that many have discovered by using in the right way healing plants he created in the earth, whatever choice one makes hopefully you pray about it to make sure it is good for you. All of our health is different, many born with so much problems(nothing to hard for God)yet praying helps because only God knows everything, and our bodies sometimes reject to so many medications which are chemicals blended together, what helps some might not help others, personally I am blessed and take nothing. When depressed or out of sorts, I just always cried out and prayed and the Lord always help me. Mental illness are deep in my family, some have even taken their life, yet Jesus is still a miracle worker who understands and compassionate toward any problem we could have, God bless

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.