I've just started reading Steve Peter's The Chimp Paradox. For those who don't know, he's the guy who's been working with British Cycling and other high performance athletes and sports people. I've only just started the book, so I can't give you an overview of the whole thing, but I did start to think about the theological implications of the way he describes the brain.
Using a very simplified model of the brain, he divides into three parts: the human, the chimp and the computer. The computer is the storage centre and the other two the active controlling brains. Put simply, the human brain is who we want to be and the chimp brain essentially interferes with our fulfilling of our potential.
What struck me as interesting is that theologically we talk about the will and talk about how sin affects our ability to do what honours God. I hear the echo of Paul's words when he speaks of doing what he knows he shouldn't do and not being able to do what he knows he ought to do (Rom. 7).
Now, I'm not trying to find a theological correlation or interpretation of Steve Peter's work in order to make it somehow Christian, rather like the quest for finding parallels between the Star Wars saga and the gospel. All I'm saying is that i'm intrigued by the the concept of a part of me that interferes, that gets in the way of me becoming that which I have the potential to be. That concept seems to have resonance with the way I understand the gospel, redemption and the whole of the Biblical narrative.
When we declare that we can't help it, the simple truth is that we can. Just because we're tempted we don;t have to fall for it. We always have a choice. When I first came to faith one of the first verses of the New Testament I committed to memory was 1Cor.10:13 "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."
I've always thought that is possible for us not to sin, but probable that we will sin. This is the battle we face, the battle of choosing. This makes reading The Chimp Paradox an interesting prospect!