The following excerpt is from the book, The Digital Invasion: How Technology is Shaping You and Your Relationships, by Dr.’s Hart and Frejd. I’m posting it for you to read because I have and am witnessing the eroding effects that the “digital invasion” (texting, social media, smartphones, tablets, video games, etc.) has had and is having on my relationships with others and especially my communion with God. The term “Godspace” is simply defined in the book as “a sacred space where we disconnect from our technology and meet God without distractions.” The book is an easy read and also gives practical parenting guidance for raising children in this age of digital instant access to anything and anyone at anytime.
The chapter subtitle in the book for this excerpt is “Protecting Your Godspace”.
“What is encouraging about modern neuroscience research is that it is actually helping us better understand how our brain can be robbed of Godspace. Scientists tell us that they are already seeing a diminished ability to reflect, meditate, or contemplate in those who over-engage with the digital world. With these decreased abilities, our intellectual capacity is also on the decline. While this foretells serious consequences for how we learn or develop our creativity, our greatest peril is that we can also lose our ability to commune with God. If we can’t disengage from our digital technology and keep a vital Godspace alive, we may not be able to engage with God at all. We will not have the physical brain mechanisms to make this connection. Moreover, just in case you think this is a little far-fetched, it would only take a neurosurgeon a minute to cut a few connections in the brain, and our ability to experience God would be gone. In other words, we need a healthy brain in order to maintain a healthy connection with God. Dr. Gary Small, a neuroscientist and expert on Alzheimer’s disease and aging, has spent a lot of time researching the effects of the digital world on our brain. He has this to report: Technology side effects appear to be suppressing prefrontal lobe executive skills in the brain. Today, video-game-brain, Internet addiction, and other technology side effects appear to be suppressing frontal lobe executive skills and our ability to communicate face-to-face. Our conversations with others help us to have conversations with ourselves and in turn to have conversations with God. If you can’t communicate in a healthy way with people, you will also struggle to connect with God and to have good self-awareness. Another leading neuroscientist who has researched this topic is Andrew Newberg. He explains breakthrough findings in his book How God Changes Your Brain. It deals with how the frontal lobe in your brain creates and integrates all of your ideas about God, both positive or negative, including the logic you use to evaluate your religious and spiritual beliefs. It predicts your future relationship to God and attempts to intellectually answer all of the “why, what, and where” questions raised by spiritual issues. In essence, he states that when the prefrontal part of our brain, the part that does our main thinking, gets overloaded, it begins to shut itself down. Guess what is in our modern world that overloads the frontal part of the brain? Today’s digital invasion targets mainly the frontal part of the brain, not only overusing it, but also depleting it of simple energy. This impairs our ability to think deeply, and consequently, communicate with God in a meaningful way. This now leads to the question, How can we protect our Godspace from the digital invasion? Christian psychiatrist Dr. Curt Thompson tackles this topic in his book Anatomy of the Soul. He proposes that the key to this protection lies in the realm of our spiritual practices, such as regular prayer, reading Scripture, and face-to-face connections with other people who can help us develop a vital and healthy relationship with God. There is evidence that such practices can even change the way our brain uses the digital world. This is how Dr. Thompson explains it: Spiritual disciplines have been practiced in the lives of deeply integrated followers of God for over three thousand years. They facilitate the very things neuroscience and attachment research suggest are reflections of healthy mental states and secure attachment. Furthermore, these disciplines can strengthen the prefrontal cortex.”
Pretty thought provoking, eh? Take some time, some significant time, each day and each week (Like a Sabbath day! What a concept!), to unplug yourself from your smartphone or computer. If you start to do it, let me know because I’d like to hear what Jesus will begin to do in your relationship with Him and with others.