John Carew Eccles was born in Melbourne, Australia, on January 27, 1903. He was a prominent researcher in the field of neurophysiology. He won a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1963 for his research on synapse. His research work contributed to understanding complex neurophysiological processes in human brain.
After completing his studies in Melbourne High School, John Eccles graduated from Melbourne University in 1925. He won a Rhodes Scholarship for pursuing higher studies at Oxford University where he worked under the renowned neurophysiologist Charles Scott Sherrington, and obtained his Ph.D. in 1929. He continued to work with Sherrington for some more time and returned to Australia in 1937 where he was engaged in military research during World War II. In 1952, he worked as a professor at the Australian National University where he and his colleagues performed a research work that won him a Nobel Prize.
Apart from his contributions to science through brain research, Eccles wrote extensively on interactions between brain and mind. Eccles challenged the idea that the mind is identical with different physiochemical states of the brain. After an extensive research carrier in neurophysiology, Eccles concluded that the mind and brain are two separate entities. He also highlighted the incompleteness of the Darwin’s theory of evolution by stating that it fails to explain why each individual living being’s consciousness has a unique identity. In Eccles’ opinion, each living being is a divine creation. He writes, “We come to exist through a divine act. That divine guidance is a theme throughout our life; at our death the brain goes, but that divine guidance and love continues. It is the only view consistent with all the evidence.”
While describing the personality of John Eccles, Dr. Jerry Bergman says, “Eccles spent his entire half-century-long career in brain research and published widely in the scientific literature on this subject. He concluded from his research, and his extensive review of the research of others, that the idea that the mind is a product of evolution is wrong and badly misinformed. In the end he concluded that only an intelligent creator could account for the existence of the human mind.”
In 1966, Eccles moved to the USA and worked at the Institute for Biomedical Research, Chicago, and at the University of Buffalo. In 1975, he retired, moved to Switzerland and continued his writing on the mind-body questions. He died in 1997 in Locarno, Switzerland.
Eccles was an accomplished researcher as well as a spiritualist. He was one of the few voices in the scientific circles who did not agree with the prevalent theories based on improbable assumptions. He believed that the universe and life are created with a purpose. As a result he faced challenges and criticisms from his colleagues. But he continued to stay firm on his realizations about mind and brain. About the naturalists who did not believe in the purpose and intelligent design of the world, he wrote, “They need a little more humility.”
In one of his last books, he humbly wrote, “I here express my efforts to understand with deep humility a self, myself, as an experiencing being. I offer it in the hope that we human selves may discover a transforming faith in the meaning and significance of this wonderful adventure that each of us is given on this salubrious Earth of ours, each with our wonderful brain, which is ours to control and use for our memory and enjoyment and creativity and with love for other human selves.”