The Killer Neural Wiring That Links Eyes and Wings in Predators – A Spiritual Insight

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In a recent publication [1] Researchers studying the Damselfly discovered the neural systems behind jewel wings’ vision are very similar to those of dragonflies. Scientists have also been working on understanding the neural connections in creatures that fly at high rates of speed. Recently it was reported [2] that birds of prey that fly faster also see changes in their field of vision quicker which demonstrates a link between speed and the wing/brain ability to process the visual input more rapidly. The particular research on the Damselfly was to investigate the neurons that send visual information to the wings of the insect.

References

  1. Jack A. Supple, Daniel Pinto-Benito, Christopher Khoo, Hanchuan Peng, Robert M. Olberg, Paloma T. Gonzalez-Bellido, et al., “Binocular Encoding in the Damselfly Pre-motor Target Tracking System,” 2020, Current Biology 30, 1–12, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2019.12.031 Published:January 16, 2020
  2. Simon Potier, Margaux Lieuvin, Michael Pfaff, Almut Kelber, “How fast can raptors see?” Journal of Experimental Biology 2020 223: jeb209031 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.209031 Published 2 January 2020

The brain combines the images received from two eyes into one single point of view. We experience this in our own bodies, we have two eyes, and the image we receive is combined to make a uniform one single point of view image. In biology, binocular vision is a type of vision in which an animal has two eyes and is able to perceive a single 3D image of its surroundings. This provides a wider field of view, provides precise depth perception, and allows for more precise detection of objects (increased visual sensitivity). This enables the insects to have an increased reaction time, and these reasons and more are why binocular vision is often found in predatory insect species. A search of the scientific literature shows a lot of research work has gone into understanding the behavioral and neurophysiological mechanisms underlying target interception in dragonflies. These studies have looked at dragonflies which intercept prey that is oriented below the predator. The researchers [1] state

“Target movement across the dragonfly dorsal fovea is encoded at the pre-motor level by a small population of eight bilaterally symmetric target-selective descending neurons (TSDNs). TSDNs receive input from the lateral protocerebrum and project to the subesophageal ganglion (SOG) and thoracic motor centers with a total latency of less than 30 ms. Each TSDN type possesses a characteristic receptive field that is directionally tuned and spatially localized to a specific region of the dorsal visual field. As a population, TSDNs primarily encode target movement away from or along the midline, and TSDN firing can change the angle of attack and beating of the wings (R.M. Olberg, 1983, Soc. Neurosci., abstract), presumably reflecting their role as part of a reactive steering mechanism keeping the dragonfly locked onto the prey during pursuit.” [1]

The paper focuses upon the divergences between damselflies and dragonflies at the level of visual anatomy as it is related to their predatory tactic and target tracking capabilities. The damselflies tend to attack when their prey is positioned more frontally rather than dorsally in the visual field. The damselflies integrate information from both eyes in order to determine the target direction in a binocular reference frame, which is different from holoptic dragonflies which encode direction in a sagittal reference frame relative to the midline formed by their two eyes. (A sagittal plane [longitudinal plane], is an anatomical plane which divides the body into right and left parts.) There is a fascinating level of sophistication that goes into the workings of the damselfly. This is a testimony to the handiwork of God in His wisdom created these creatures to work in this particular way! (Tehillim / Psalms 19:1 and Romans 1:20)

The Spiritual insights that we receive from this type of research is related to neuronal response of target tracking between these species of flies that connect the eye to the wings for rapid identification and flight to capture its prey. This may be analogous to sin as an underlying response to a spiritual condition. The parallel is to the neuronal wiring that we see in the visual imaging, location, and response found in the research on damselflies. Sin functions as a mechanism due to a spiritual condition, which leads to a rapid response in our bodies when given the opportunity, one decides pretty quickly what to do. This leads to the conclusion that sin cannot be overcome through education, cultural understanding, material wealth, or simply hard work to live a righteous life. Human effort is on our part, the effort of the flesh as an attempt to solve this problem, and its difficulty to do so is related to the hard-wiring that has taken place due to a spiritual condition of rebellion.  This illustrates the utter hopelessness of sin in our lives. The only way to get around this problem is through the help of God Himself!

Due to the consequence of sin, our heart becomes closed off, impermeable to love from God. The heart is described as “difficult” (קָשֶׁה), inflexible, and even cruel. The Torah and the Tanach provide various images to help understand this, in Devarim / Deuteronomy 31:27 it says “stiff neck,” in Jeremiah 9:26 it states an “uncircumcised heart” and in Ezekiel 36:26 and Zechariah 7:12 it states “heart of stone.” This stubbornness is a form of idolatry, an expression of self-will that refuses to surrender to God. In Parashat Va’era, we read how “Pharaoh’s heart was hardened (וַיֶּחֱזַק) so that he would not listen.” (Shemot / Exodus 8:19). The sin of hardening the heart causes one to not hear the calling of God on one’s heart to repentance. This is a form of bondage when one is enslaved by his or her inner urges. When this happens, one loses the ability to think outside of the sinful desires. The desire for greed, for pleasure, to be fearful, to be angry, or having the need to always be right (pride) can control and functions within a person as a demanding taskmaster. In Parashat Va’era, Pharaoh hardened / strengthened (וַיֶּחֱזַק) his heart in pride such that he became enslaved and imprisoned to his demanding ego. Yeshua said according to Matthew 6:21-24:

Matthew 6:21-24
6:21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 6:22 ‘The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 6:23 ‘But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 6:24 ‘No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. (NASB)

One cannot serve two masters, this is the point of being humble, and submitting to the will of God in our lives. Here Pharaoh’s desire to keep Israel as slaves ultimately caused him and his people to be slaves as well. This concept of self deception causes one to deny the consequences of the fleshly passions. One chooses to rationalize his or her passions in order to allow them. By this mechanism of ignoring, denying, and rationalizing, one continues to be enslaved to self and ego. Due to the spiritual disobedience of our forefathers, we have these things hard-wired into our being, such that we all make these same choices again and again. As we see in the Scientific research on neuronal response of target tracking between these species of flies that connect the eye to the wings for rapid identification and flight to capture its prey, we have these things hard-wired into us such that the choices we make will always be the choices we make without the deliverance and power of God to overcome them. The only way to be delivered from the power of sin is by the Lord God Almighty Himself entering into our lives as Yeshua said, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). Faith in Yeshua leads to deliverance by reason of the Lord God Almighty literally entering into our lives giving us strength, in similar fashion as he did by delivering Israel from Egypt. (Romans 1:16, 1 Corinthians 1:18) The concept that “the truth sets you free” is not merely an intellectual property such as being made aware of our error, but occurs at the core of our being. Our will is changed such that we no longer are enslaved to the power of the inner darkness and stain of sin.

The prophet Isaiah wrote the following,

Isaiah 55:1-7
55:1 ‘Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost. 55:2 ‘Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance. 55:3 ‘Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, According to the faithful mercies shown to David. 55:4 ‘Behold, I have made him a witness to the peoples, A leader and commander for the peoples. 55:5 ‘Behold, you will call a nation you do not know, And a nation which knows you not will run to you, Because of the Lord your God, even the Holy One of Israel; For He has glorified you.’ 55:6 Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the Lord, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. (NASB, א הוֹי כָּל-צָמֵא לְכוּ לַמַּיִם וַאֲשֶׁר אֵין-לוֹ כָּסֶף לְכוּ שִׁבְרוּ וֶאֱכֹלוּ וּלְכוּ שִׁבְרוּ בְּלוֹא-כֶסֶף וּבְלוֹא מְחִיר יַיִן וְחָלָב: ב לָמָּה תִשְׁקְלוּ-כֶסֶף בְּלוֹא-לֶחֶם וִיגִיעֲכֶם בְּלוֹא לְשָֹבְעָה שִׁמְעוּ שָׁמוֹעַ אֵלַי וְאִכְלוּ-טוֹב וְתִתְעַנַּג בַּדֶּשֶׁן נַפְשְׁכֶם: ג הַטּוּ אָזְנְכֶם וּלְכוּ אֵלַי שִׁמְעוּ וּתְחִי נַפְשְׁכֶם וְאֶכְרְתָה לָכֶם בְּרִית עוֹלָם חַסְדֵי דָוִד הַנֶּאֱמָנִים: ד הֵן עֵד לְאוּמִּים נְתַתִּיו נָגִיד וּמְצַוֵּה לְאֻמִּים: ה הֵן גּוֹי לֹא-תֵדַע תִּקְרָא וְגוֹי לֹא-יְדָעוּךָ אֵלֶיךָ יָרוּצוּ לְמַעַן יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ וְלִקְדוֹשׁ יִשְֹרָאֵל כִּי פֵאֲרָךְ: ו דִּרְשׁוּ יְהֹוָה בְּהִמָּצְאוֹ קְרָאֻהוּ בִּהְיוֹתוֹ קָרוֹב: ז יַעֲזֹב רָשָׁע דַּרְכּוֹ וְאִישׁ אָוֶן מַחְשְׁבֹתָיו וְיָשֹׁב אֶל-יְהֹוָה וִירַחֲמֵהוּ וְאֶל-אֱלֹהֵינוּ כִּי-יַרְבֶּה לִסְלוֹחַ:)

The passages from Isaiah 55 speak to what Yeshua said about himself (John 7:37) he said “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.” From this context, the prophet Isaiah spoke of Yeshua as the Holy One of Israel, the everlasting covenant, the One who is a witness to many peoples, and of the future expectation of the gentiles coming into the family of God through the statement 55:5 ‘Behold, you will call a nation you do not know, And a nation which knows you not will run to you, Because of the Lord your God, even the Holy One of Israel; For He has glorified you.’ (NASB, ז יַעֲזֹב רָשָׁע דַּרְכּוֹ וְאִישׁ אָוֶן מַחְשְׁבֹתָיו וְיָשֹׁב אֶל-יְהֹוָה וִירַחֲמֵהוּ וְאֶל-אֱלֹהֵינוּ כִּי-יַרְבֶּה לִסְלוֹחַ) And then Isaiah 55:7 continues stating “Let the wicked man forsake his way” (derekh, דֶּרֶךְ), and “the perverse man his thoughts” (machshavah, מַחֲשָׁבָה); and “let him return” (shuv, שׁוּב) to the LORD, that “He may have compassion” (rachamim, רַחֲמִים) on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly “pardon” (selichah, סְלִיחָה). Notice how the Lord God is merciful to those who seek Him and His ways.

The point from the scientific research of hard-wiring (neuronal response of target tracking) leads us to understand the hardness of heart is something we all continue to deal with, even for those who trust in Yeshua. Paul wrote that we are to “put off the old self with its practices” (Colossians 3:9) and the author of the book of Hebrews writes that we are not to “harden our hearts” through unbelief (Hebrews 3:8, 3:15, 4:7). Putting these things off, dying to self requires divine intervention. We are told in Romans 10:13 and Joel 2:32, that if we cry out to the Lord for help and deliverance, that He will hear us! Being aware of our condition, helps us to not self-deceive but to seek the Lord in heaven and His Messiah Yeshua. When we turn to the Lord, He is there to help us.

In Parashat Va’era we read how the Lord God Almighty told Moshe that He was now going to fulfill His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, by giving Israel the Promised Land (Land of Canaan) because he heard “the groaning of the people” due to their slavery. (Shemot / Exodus 6:5) Through this Torah portion, the Lord God makes some amazing statements saying:

“I AM the LORD (אֲנִי יְהוָה) and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgment; and I will take you to me for a people and I will be to you a God”

The God of creation was going to deliver His people in a very powerful way, these are the four expressions of redemption that He promises to us today too! Believing in Yeshua the Messiah, the Lord God will bring us out from under the burden of sin, deliver us from bondage, redeem us with an outstretched arm, and He will be our God and we will be His people! What a wonderful promise! Despite these promises, the people were unable to listen because the Scriptures say their “shortness of breath” (מִקּצֶר רוּחַ) due to their harsh slavery. The Lord then told Moshe to stand before Pharaoh and command him to let the people go. Then the power of God was manifest, when standing in faith before that which wants to restrain (pride).

שְׁמַע יִשְֹרָאֵל יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָֹה | אֶחָד

Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad


Hear O Israel, the Lord your God the Lord is One

This Scripture is known as “the Shema” and has profound implications on what we are studying here today! The Shema continues in Devarim / Deuteronomy 6:4 stating “You shall love the Lord your god with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.” This command to listen, to hear, and to know God through love, speaks to us today prophetically about your inner life. The Scriptures say, “You shall love (וְאָהַבְתָּ) the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” Notice how only God can make the heart come alive, filling us with His Spirit, and creating in us the desire to have a righteous and holy affection for Him (love). Only the Lord God Almighty can give us the strength to overcome sin, to take hold of the promises we see in the Torah, as God Himself writes them upon our hearts, and in our lives. This is what Paul meant when he said, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever.” (Romans 11:36) Only the Lord can change the stiff necked, uncircumcised, and stubborn heart. The Lord promised through the prophet Ezekiel saying, “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26) Our new heart comes through faith in Yeshua, and the indwelling of the Spirit of God, His divine presence in our lives. The research we are looking at on the neuronal response of target tracking between the eye-brain-wings for rapid identification and flight to capture prey relates to God overcoming the hard-wiring in each and every one of us to walk in the spirit. The analogy to sin as an underlying response to a spiritual condition, being hard-wired into our lives leads to a rapid response in our lives to desire sin and act upon it. The Lord God Almighty however changes us from within. The Scriptures we just looked at from the Torah (the Shema), and from Ezekiel, and from Romans, speak of something God does in our lives to overcome the sinfulness of man. This promise of love that He has for us incorporates the concepts of setting us free from sin, from bondage, and from imprisonment, and giving us the energy and power to overcome the world and to overcome the sinfulness in our own lives. With the command to love the Lord with all your heart, this implies God Himself has indeed given us a new heart to love Him, and provides us with the spiritual properties to influence our soul, which implies that he truly enables us to be free, to be tender, to be sensitized to the reality of sin, and our need for a savior! By having faith in Yeshua, and receiving the Holy Spirit of God, our substance, our innermost being, the inner self, the Lord God Almighty transforms us, to make us who we really are in the Lord, a favored people who love and serve Him! The presence of God in our lives enables us to let go of our own agenda, and we truly can say with all our heart “thy kingdom come, they will be done!” This is how we truly trust in God and in his Son Yeshua for the miracle of spiritual regeneration and transformation to become the people of God, no matter who or where we come from! (Jew or Gentile) The Lord God will give you this miracle if you ask him, to impart a passion for truth, justice, righteousness, and holiness, and to walk according to God’s Word, by faith in Yeshua the Messiah!

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Duane D. Miller received his Ph.D., M.S., and B.S. Degree in Chemical Engineering from The University of Akron Ohio. He is currently a Chemical Engineering Researcher. Duane’s research expertise has focused upon functional materials development for the control, conversion, and release of process gases in Energy production technologies. His R&D interests include computational chemistry, developing novel technologies for converting biomass to fuels and studying their fundamental interactions during the chemical conversion process. His past experience includes sorbent development for pre- and post-combustion CO2 and SO2 capture, selective absorption of H2S from methane streams, O2 capture for oxy-fuel combustion, photocatalytic reduction of alcohols, NOx reduction catalysis, the development of oxygen carriers to combust fossil fuels (CH4 and coal) for the chemical looping combustion processes, and the extraction of rare earth elements using patent pending sorbents. His research expertise has focused on operando-characterization using Infrared, Raman, and UV-Vis spectroscopy to observe the nature of the catalytic active sites and reaction intermediates under realistic reaction conditions, allowing direct correlation of molecular/electronic structures with catalyst performance during Gas-Solid / Liquid-Solid Adsorption and Photocatalytic Processes with real time online analysis of reaction products using ICP-MS and mass spectrometry. His current work involves a multi-disciplinary approach to developing, understanding, and improving the catalytic gasification of coal and methane, high temperature chemical looping combustion, and the catalytic decomposition and gasification of biomass and coal using novel microwave reactor.​ He has been studying the Hebrew Scriptures and the Torah for 20+ years and sharing what he has learned. The studies developed for MATSATI.COM are freely to be used by everyone, to God be the Glory!