Jesus: Invisible friend or evolutionary adaptation?
I had never heard of the “Third Man” phenomenon until reading this fascinating Wall Street Journal book review. People in extreme situations, such as explorers stranded on a mountain peak or shipwreck survivors, have reported the sensation of being accompanied out of danger by an invisible companion who offers them encouragement and guidance.
Believers might say: But of course! We are accompanied through life by an invisible friend. According to Michael Novak, for example, “God made humans to offer them his friendship and companionship.”
Scientists, however, can “evoke the sensation of a shared presence by stimulating the brain with electricity,” according to Wall Street Journal reviewer Michael Ybarra. The author of The Third Man Factor posits a possible evolutionary value to such a neurological sensation. The fact that we can electrically induce a hidden companion doesn’t mean that we are not walking with Jesus, but it does point at the very least to the unfathomably complex relationship between our consciousness, the sub-conscious workings of our brain, and the external world.