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The Science of Synchrony (and union with God)

While out running errands, I caught the last bit of a CBC “Quirks and Quarks” radio interview with Dr. Wolfgang Tschacher—on his research on synchrony.

It got me thinking about God.

Dr. Tschacher designed an experiment to see just how much people physiologically fall in to sync when listening to music as a group. He discovered that a high percentage of those he wired up at a classical music concert fell significantly in sync with each another—in terms of body movement, heart rate, breathing rate, and electrodermal activity (measuring how people are feeling). Not all people fell in sync (those who test high for narcissism didn't), but those with the personality trait of ‘openness for experience’ synched most. People with this dominant trait are curious, they like art, and they are open to new things.

Dr. Tschacher thinks the same phenomenon he was able to measure would also play out at a rock concert or sporting event. All “social rituals synchronize…viewers,” he said. This synchronicity is crucial for making single individuals into groups of people who can then do things together.

Synchrony “strengthens the feeling of being part of the collective, part of a larger human system,” Tschacher notes.

Radio host Bob McDonald then asked if there was an evolutionary rationale for this behaviour, “Where did it come from?” Dr. Tschacher responded by talking about synchronicity in animals, as evidenced in mating rituals and then in very act of mating itself (the ultimate synchrony!).

It was at this point in the interview where I wanted to add to Dr. Tschacher’s response.

“Where did it come from?” Perhaps from the mind of a God who saw the wisdom of synching ‘shared experience’ and ‘group physiological response’ in terms of how it might enable humanity to heed his call to collectively fill the earth with good things. The capacity to sync within a society also helps us be good neighbours—keeping our hearts beating with others. And if it’s true that humanity’s unity is ultimately made to be found in a shared experience of God (the ultimate being, event, and song), well then yes, that there is evidence of this glorious capacity in the ordinary (penultimate) experiences of life, where everything comes together while focused on one thing, should be no surprise.

We’re made to move together toward a glorious end, a beautiful shared experience, with all hearts beating as one—synchrony with God through Christ.

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