Brain Function and Early Christianity

18 May

Over the last two thousand years, various Christians have seen visions. With no simple explanation, they have viewed these visions from a religious pattern of thought. Clearly, the visions were a peek into the otherworld – seeing into heaven or hell.

As modern medicine has peeled back the mysteries about brain function, and also simply collected together far more information about common symptoms experienced by millions of people, sometimes a simpler explanation surfaces.

Here are two illustrations from the excellent “Pseudoscience and the Paranormal“, Terence Hines (1988), themselves copied from an earlier book by Sacks [1985].

Typical fortification illusions of migraine.

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Examples of the illusions of the eleventh-century mystic Hildegard showing their similarity to migraine fortifications.

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Interestingly, when I showed these illustrations to my wife (a migraine sufferer) she instantly recognised them as what she had referred to as “castellation patterns“. So – not that uncommon.

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