Have you noticed how our brains tend to notice the negative things in life more readily than the positive? Ever wonder why?
One theory that attempts to explain this is an evolutionary explanation based on the theory of natural selection. It advocates that over millions of years of evolution, the mammalian brain has evolved into our modern human brain. It posits that animals/humans with a negative neurological bias (or vigilance as I refer to it) were more alert to possible dangers and therefore survived longer and reproduced more frequently than the non-vigilant members of their species. Vigilant animals passed on their genetic predisposition more frequently. Eventually non-vigilant animals died out because they were not fit enough to survive in a dangerous world.
I have never believed this explanation. For one reason, there is no fossil evidence to support macro evolution. For another, neurologists have found that the amount of positive or negative bias (or vigilance) a person has is impacted most significantly by environmental factors early in life. This includes the levels of neurotransmitters present in the mother’s blood stream during pregnancy. It also includes the bias of early “programming” during the first 6 years of a persons life as a child observes how his or her parents respond to her and how they respond to the world around them. (As fascinating as neurology is, it is not the topic for today’s blog so I will end it’s discussion here).
I believe that our Creator designed our brains with this vigilance or negative bias. This belief used to prompt me to wonder why the loving Creator would design our brains in a way that generates so much pain and misunderstanding. But Genesis 2 and 3 gives us a clue to our design parameters, and answered this question for me.
In Genesis we read that the forbidden fruit came from the”…tree of the knowledge of good and evil and blessing and calamity…” (Genesis 2:17 AMP). The serpent tells Eve that as soon as she takes a bite of the fruit she will know “… the difference between good and evil and blessing and calamity.” (Genesis 3:5 AMP). The bible does not precisely contrast this post-disobedience state of knowing with what humans experienced before disobedience entered the human condition. However, based on descriptions of the Garden of Eden prior to “the fall” it is safe to say it was an existence of only the good and blessed side of the equation. God created us to live in this ideal environment where we both: 1) had a close, securely attached relationship with Him, and 2) were without awareness of danger. In Eden there was no needed for vigilance. Danger existed in the universe, but until Eve and Adam took bites of the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they lived in innocent unawareness of evil or calamity.
Prior to that bite, the first humans only knew goodness and blessing. They had not been exposed to any opposite to compare or contrast good with. But once their “eyes” were opened, the world was nolonger completely safe and the need for a vigilant brain emerged. In that moment, our brains early warning system was activated for the first time and has remained active ever since because we began to experience evil and calamity.
The Father created us with capacity for vigilance because He knew we would need it to survive the many dangers we have faced over the years after the fall. He designed us with DNA that is responsive to the world we are born into by creating a genetic mechanism for reducing or increasing our level of vigilance. (The levels of cortisol and other stress chemicals in a mother’s body during gestation trigger or inhibit genetic expressions that either increase a brains’ vigilance and aggressive nature or decrease them.)
In addition to this sudden awareness of danger that activated our vigilance system, in that same moment Adam and Eve also experienced their first separation from the Father. Before this they walked daily in the garden with their creator. They went from having a perfect, securely attached relationship with the Father, to – at best – an insecure attachment with The Father due to a self inflicted attachment injury. Sin (living the way they wanted instead of the way God designed them to live) became a wedge that Adam and Eve drove between themselves and the Father. (More on this in the future.)
In that same moment, God also enacted His rescue plan to restore us to connection with Him. This involved sending His Son to make possible a new connection between Him and us. (Unfortunately this connection is unstable at best because of the consequences of our self centered nature.) Eventually He will fulfill that plan when He completes a new heaven and a new earth and returns for us. Then His people will live forever in a world where there is no evil or calamity. We will live with a restored securely attached relationship with the Father were there will be no need for vigilance ever again.
I welcome feedback, critique, and constructive criticism.