Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Thoughts About Brain Research and Scripture Part 1

For me, one of the most exciting areas in integration is linking ongoing discoveries in brain research and what God's Word teaches us. As I've read and learned about the new information that our neural pathways are formed by repetition, it has reminded me of various passages in the Bible that seem to tie into that principle. For example, Romans 12:2 "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."

Paul definitely seems to be talking about patterns of thinking (since he refers to renewing our mind), although previously most people seem to think of the "patterns of the world" to be refering to certain behaviors. I believe we develop patterns of thinking as we grow up (via the repetition of seeing behavior and hearing statements repetitively), and many of these patterns of thinking are based on what the world believes is true, rather than what God's word teaches us. For example, many children learn early in life that mom and dad's loving response to them is conditional, based on the child's behavior. So, they soon learn that "if I am able to perform as mom and dad want, I am loveable--i.e., "I have worth." If they can't perform up to standard, then "I am not loveable." If they don't get that indirect message at home, they will get it when they go to school, both from their teachers and their peers. But God's truth is that our worth, our being "loveable" is not based on our performance, but on God's choice to give us value and worth, no matter what our performance is!

These types of distorted thinking patterns have to be transformed to God's truth, through the renewing of our mind. The thinking that matches the "pattern of the world" becomes a very strong neural pathway in our brain. However, as research has shown us, when we begin to think differently, those old pathways begin to disintegrate some, and the new pathways of thinking (God's truth) become stronger. That is a rather simplistic explanation, but I think it captures the concept well.

Next week I will continue with some more thoughts about these issues.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I look forward to hearing about your research and ministry.