The problem with explicit processing: Christian evangelicals
December 15, 2008
One of my intellectual bedrocks these days is the psychological distinction between explicit and implicit processing. Implicit processing is how the animal part of our brain operates. It’s basically a set of psychological reflexes that take care of the routine business of living — like seeing colors and shapes when we look around the room and recognizing the faces of people we know.
From an evolutionary perspective, the systems of implicit processing have been meticulously designed by natural selection to promote survival and reproduction. They make us enjoy sex and they make us want children and enjoy nurturing them — most of the time. They make us want to associate with people like ourselves. They also make us more likely to contribute to public goods like education and health care if the likely beneficiaries are people like ourselves.
But then along comes explicit processing to make it all really complicated. Explicit processing includes our verbal, cultural world—how we think about ourselves and our place in the world. Patrick Hardin sums it up beautifully in his cartoon: For eons our animal ancestors were governed by three simple rules: “Eat, survive, reproduce.” But at the very pinnacle of evolution, we ask “What’s it all about?”
Read more: Occidental Observer