What is at work here is grace.
The progress being made in the development of what are called “neural-interface systems” is nothing short of astonishing.
As Andrew Jackson reported in the May 17, 2012, issue of Nature, researchers have now created a system which allows human beings suffering from paralysis to move a robotic arm in sync with what they imagine in their brains. (See the accompanying research report as well.)
This is just the latest development in a long series of studies and experiments, but the trajectory is in the direction of providing support for victims of paralysis that will enable them to move their own limbs, via wireless implants, in the not-too-distant future.
Mr. Jackson explains that brain implants, wired to external assistive devices (a computer and a robotic arm), are able to detect electrical impulses from the brains of humans, who imagine themselves moving their paralyzed arms. In response, the robotic arm moves, according to their command.
Now all of this is very cumbersome and wire-bound at present, and the results are by no means perfect. But what a wonder the human brain is! A woman, paralyzed for years, is able to generate electrical impulses in her brain which move a robotic arm according to her imagined desires!
And as astonishing as that is, consider the brains of those who conceived this project and invented this technology. How over-the-top smart are those guys, eh?
But before we get too carried away, let’s remember something even more amazing. Right now my fingers are moving in sync with what I am imagining in my brain – typing each letter in succession to spell out words in an imagined sentence. No machines. No wires. Just living tissue responding to living tissue – flesh and blood obeying the electrical charges generated by my imagining brain.
How cool is that! With all due respect to secular researchers and technicians, this story does not compel me to celebrate the glories and mysteries of chance nor to stop my adulation at the minds of those paralyzed subjects and the brilliant and compassionate scientists working in their cause. There’s more at work here than just the chance-born brains of curious super-apes devoting themselves to a work of compassionate concern for needy fellow humans.
What is at work here is grace, grace from beyond the human brain engaging the human brain in a way that denies the tooth-and-claw ground rules of evolution and says, Hey, surely there’s something we can do here to help.
This is a form of energy that brains do not generate and wires cannot convey. This is spiritual energy, sent from the throne of Christ, via the agency of His steadfast love and faithfulness. Only Christ, and only His grace, can create such wonders.
Mr. Jackson seems almost to admit as much when he writes, “It remains to be seen whether a neural-interface system that will be of practical use to patients with diverse clinical needs can become a commercially viable proposition. Nevertheless, the delight of a participant in [this] study as she succeeds in drinking from a bottle for the first time in years should act as a powerful incentive for all in the field to address these challenges.”
Mind-boggling, isn’t it?