The BBC ran a program the other day (unfortunately not available in the U.S.) called Secrets of the Superbrands. In this program, Apple fans were shown images of Apple products while an MRI was being done. And what was the interesting result? “They found brain activity that mirrors how a religious person’s brain reacts when presented with a picture of their chosen deity.” (source)
Should this suprise us? Is this unique to Apple? I don’t think so. I think this is actually how things have always been.
Do you recall Isaiah’s striking picture of idolatry in Isaiah 44?
Isaiah 44:14–17 (ESV) 14He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. 15Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. 16Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” 17And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!”
Do you see the striking picture? “The rest of it he makes in to a god, his idol, and falls down to worship it.” How foolish we are! Maybe we don’t carve many physical idols these days, but let us not be deceived into think that we aren’t still creating idols. It is not just Apple. As one commentator says:
Implying that Apple fandom equals zealotry may be attention-grabbing (and does indeed make me want to watch the program . . .), but the neurological similarity isn’t surprising or particularly novel. You could almost certainly make the same observations about Red Sox fans, Twilight groupies, Van Halen lovers, Ducati collectors … the list goes on, and whatever object of desire makes your heart pitter-patter will resonate in the neural patterns of your gray matter. (source)
If you are interested in seeing a little clip from the BBC documentary, check out BBC Three Looks into ‘evangelical frenzy’ over Apple.
And yes . . . by the way . . . I do have an iPhone, wouldn’t mind having an iPad (or a MacBook Pro for that matter), and I am not sure how well I would do on the same MRI.