Author: Stephen Caesar
The wording of Genesis 6:5 makes it sounds of as if the human heart is capable of
thinking, or at least of having some sort of emotional capacity: “And God saw that the
wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of THE
THOUGHTS OF HIS HEART was only evil continually.” Critics deem this expression to
be unscientific, since the heart is viewed as a purely mechanical pump. However, the
science journal Discover, in a review of the book A Man after His Own Heart by Charles
Siebert, reported that Siebert’s book recognized
“that the heart is no mere pump, as some physicians still insist, but a sophisticated
participant in the regulation of emotion. The heart has a mind of its own: It secretes its
own brain-like hormones and actively partakes in a dialogue among the internal
organs―a dialogue on which cardiac researchers are only beginning to eavesdrop. The
heart likewise undergoes all manner of organic change inflicted on it by the tempestuous
brain and its neurochemicals. As one doctor explains, people do suffer heartbreak,
literally” (Burdick 2004: 72).
The journal used the real-life example of William Schroeder, who was the second
(as well as the longest-surviving) recipient of the Jarvik-7 artificial heart. As a purely
mechanical pump of his blood, the device kept Schroeder alive for an unprecedented 620
days. However, as Discover reported,
“The patient’s mental state was another matter. Schroeder was weepy and deeply
despondent. (Barney Clark, the first Jarvik-7 recipient, expressed a wish to die or be
killed.) The blood still circulated, but something vital―some emotionally charged
communication between heart and mind―had been lost….Affirming all [alleged] myths,
the hear truly is a seat of human emotion. The Jarvik-7, in contrast, was deaf to the song
of human experience; built to invigorate its patient, it instead alienated him, supplying
Schroeder with everything but the will to live. He had the look, Siebert writes, ‘of a man
who has lost his heart’” (Burdick 2004: 72).
It is discoveries like these that should caution us not to be too quick in judging the
Book of Genesis as scientifically unsound.
Burdick, A. 2004. Review of A Man after His Own Heart, by Charles Siebert. Discover
25, no. 5.
Stephen Caesar holds his master’s degree in anthropology/archaeology from Harvard. He is a staff
member at Associates for Biblical Research and the author of the e-book The Bible Encounters Modern
Science, available at www.authorhouse.com.