God is spirit, meaning He is not a mortal material being. Even though we are mortal material beings, no one can deny that each of us has a spirit within us. 1 Corinthians 6:19 confirms this “… your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is within you.” Science agrees. Using quantum physics, math, and biology, researchers confirm a spirit exists in us. This spirit is our soul. It’s the spark of life that originates when we originate. The spiritual aspect of our being includes our natural instincts and the material aspect of our being includes the ability for us to have knowledge, especially knowledge of God. For us to be truly happy, we must have instincts and knowledge in our spirit.
Development of Our Primary Brain
Less than one month after conception, babies’ brains begin to develop. We cannot think or reason at this stage, but we quickly develop instincts. Like any living creature, once we exist, we don’t want to cease to exist, so we develop survival instincts. It is here in our primary brain that we have these instincts.
Our primary brain is responsible for controlling our life sustaining functions, such as breathing, heartrate, and digestion, it stores information (memory), and is part of the mechanism for alertness, arousal, and wakefulness (essentials in identifying threats). We are alerted to threats even in utero and react in ways that allow us to survive. This is demonstrated by 4D ultrasound images of fetuses whose mothers smoked. When the mothers inhaled the smoke, the fetuses clearly responded by making facial expressions and touching their faces with their hands – perhaps an instinctual move to shield themselves.
The Conscious and Subconscious Mind
Our primary brain is the life giving and life keeping part of the brain. It is the basis of our existence, where our spark of life (our soul) resides. It is not the area of the brain where we have conscious thought. That part of the brain is built over the primary brain and develops after we are born. The conscious part of our brain is where we think and reason, form thoughts, opinions, ideas, views, and values, and solve problems. When we are conscious, we are awake, alert, and aware. Our primary brain, being the base of our entire brain and beneath our consciousness, is called the subconscious mind.
While we have natural instincts to survive that come from our subconscious mind, we also have inherent knowledge that develops when we are able to think. Philosophers argue for and against the idea of inherent knowledge, but research done by a group in Switzerland supports we possess natural knowledge and confirms what we can deduce from Scripture; that God is complete knowledge. And since God’s spirit is within us, we have knowledge in us.
Instincts and Knowledge
Our inherent knowledge includes the fact that we know the existence of good and bad, the existence of happiness, and the need for cooperation. It also includes abilities we have, like the ability to be patient, to be accepting, to love, to practice self-control, to be compassionate, to be kind, to be responsible, to forgive, to trust, to do good, and to learn. This knowledge that leads us to happiness.
We must have both instinct and knowledge to live well and be happy. I equate our spirit of life with our subconscious mind, but our entire spirit must come from both our subconscious and conscious minds. If we had only instincts, we would be like the animals. We would live in a state of alertness and arousal. The emotions related to our survival instincts are fear, anger, and contempt. Living with only these emotions does not promote happiness. Conversely, “knowledge [alone] makes [people self-righteously] arrogant.” (1 Corinthians 8:1)
To be happy, we must rely on and attend to our spirit. We must synchronize and integrate our instincts with our knowledge. More on how to do this in upcoming posts.