Saturday, November 08, 2014

2-5-2008 spiritual warfare transcript: Part 1, part 1 commentary 2. Atlantic Monthly on feeling of presence as a potential misfire in the brain and Mark Driscoll's stairway incident
February 05, 2008
about 4:43

I'll start with my story.  Growing up I didn't know Jesus, not until I was 19 years of age. I did, however, have a lot of demonic--I shouldn't say a lot--I had a few demonic encounters, experiences, that I didn't really know what to do with, to be honest with you. One of them was in a friend's house where a religious leader had lived and committed suicide. Their, one of their parents was really into the occult, into witchcraft and was actually very devoted to the study of religions, and the black magic and black arts.  The result was I was coming down the stairwell in their home on one occasion and actually was physically stopped. I couldn't go down the stairwell. I was a teenager and I didn't know what was going on. It was very disorienting.  I didn't do drugs. I didn't do alcohol. I wasn't in any altered state of consciousness and I literally grabbed the handrail going down the stairs and I pulled myself to the point that I was about a parallel angle with the stairs and I felt pressure on my chest that something was literally holding me up and I couldn't go down the stairs. It was just very bizzare. I went back upstairs for awhile and eventually I DID go back down the stairs. Just some very strange, supernatural, paranormal things that I couldn't really understand.
One of the things about Driscoll's discussion about spiritual warfare was taking as given his accurate perception of events.  For instance, for those who may remember the story Driscoll recounted of somehow continually running across the same black hoodied guy while driving Grace home in her car, Driscoll's story presumes a number of details that are impossible to be sure about.  Given how an incident with  a knife-wielder turned into a man with a machete charging the stage it's not entirely certain Driscoll was driving 30 miles an hour in his story noted at the first part of this series just because Driscoll said so.  It's also not certain the Driscoll's weren't driving in circles rather than a straight line. It's not even remotely given that there was anything demonic about the incident except maybe Mark Driscoll's possibly ignorant and inattentive driving.

But the stairwell case, see, that's an interesting case because "feeling of a presence" is something that has been the subject of research lately.  Ghost research has focused less on the existence of ghosts and more on ways the brain can misfire in ways that lead people to believe ghosts are near them.  In the United Kingdom experiments with infrasound have shown that it's possible for someone to feel a ghostly presence in a concert hall if sound frequencies too low for humans to audibly hear are introduced.  With these kinds of studies in mind it may be worth noting that while Driscoll tended to attribute his experiences to actually external presences newer research suggests at least one other possibility, that some of the things Driscoll encountered may have indicated possible misfires in his own brain.
... The sense of someone near you when no one is actually there is called “feeling of presence” or FOP, apparently, according to a new study in Current Biology that identified the regions of the brain associated with this sensation and, wildly, recreated it in a lab setting.

“Although it is described by neurological and psychiatric patients and healthy individuals in different situations, it is not yet understood how the phenomenon is triggered by the brain,” the study reads.
First the researchers, who mostly hailed from Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, studied the brains of 12 patients with neurological disorders (mainly epilepsy) who had experienced FOP, and found lesions in three regions of their brains: the insular cortex, frontoparietal cortex, and temporoparietal cortex. These areas deal with self-awareness, movement, and spatial positioning, suggesting that when sensorimotor signals get confused, people can feel presences that aren’t there.

Further supporting this argument was the next experiment, in which the researchers had a robot give
confusing sensorimotor signals to healthy people with no neurological disorders, and were able to create FOP on command. Participants controlled the robot by moving a stick in front of them, which caused a metal arm behind them to touch them on the back in the same pattern, as seen in the video below.

Since Driscoll and company went to the trouble to present so much of Driscoll's 2008 spiritual warfare session for public consideration Wenatchee The Hatchet plans to keep discussing various elements of it this year.  It will even be worth revisiting some of the more infamous bits not in light of a reflexive cessationist polemic but in light of other kinds of research on the life of the mind.  A good deal of what Driscoll has taught leverages the ignorance of the average person not only about biblical literature but also about mental health.  As Driscoll takes time away from the spotlight now there is time to shine a spotlight on the behind-the-scenes session from 2008.  As research emerges that suggests that the brain's failure to perceive the unity of body and mind can be a possible account of ghost stories then it may be worth highlighting this discovery and line of research as potentially applicable to Mark Driscoll's stories of encountering forces and incidents he couldn't explain.

It also reveals something interesting about consciousness in general—that it’s not necessarily a given that our brains always understand what our bodies are doing, or even that they’re our bodies. “The brain has multiple representations of the body,” Rognini says, “and these are usually integrated together and give us a unitary experience of the body and self in space and time. We show that when there is some damage to the brain or some trick played by a robot, a second representation of our body arises in a way that gets perceived by us but not as our body but as the presence of another human being. Physically this presence is already hidden inside our minds.”

Ghosts are scary. Also scary is the idea that the delicate balance of the brain can be disrupted in a way that makes us unable to see ourselves as ourselves. But that’s science for you, always working toward explanations for the inexplicable. And in this case, the results are pointing toward a not-so-magical, if still fantastic explanation: The ghosts were always us.

It may be possible such has been the case with Driscoll.


C. Stirling Bartholomew said...

I read this and listened to it both. Have a conflict over what I am hearing from the wounded sheep and what I am perceiving in the tone and attitude of MD who sounds like a broken humble guy (sort of). MD in this presentation doesn't give much evidence of being a phony two faced hypocrite. It sounds real albeit a little bit naive about some aspects of spiritual warfare.

In other words I can see how the people who have had no day to day dealings face to face with MD might have a different take on him than people who have worked with him or under him.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

All 3.5 hours? You're a hardy listener!

C. Stirling Bartholomew said...

Oh no, just all of the first part 65min. Started on the second part which was quite different. MD does change his tone of delivery from day to day. The second session was irritating.

The talk about his marriage counseling in the second part made me cringe in horror. Who would send anyone to him for marriage counseling? It's no wonder he had guys after him if he treated them the way he describes.