God designed and created the cosmos, designed and created the human being, and designed and created the Bible. Since the same infinite mind created all three, it is entirely predictable that there is consistency across all three. Any time conflict seems to appear between, say, science and the Bible, it just means we have more homework to do. When we come to understand a passage the way God intended and when we discover real truth about an element of science, those two discoveries will be consistent with each other.
That principle clearly applies to brain science and the Bible. The more we discover about the brain, the more consistency with Scripture we find. Rick Yount, retired professor of Christian education at my school, has opened my eyes to these discoveries. The discussion below flows from his research.
Ninety-five percent of what we know about the brain today, we have learned in the past 15 years. Even though the discoveries are recent, they are entirely consistent with what was written in the Bible up to 3,500 years ago.
Two decades ago scientists thought the brain does not change in structure or “wiring” after the age of six. At that same time they thought the brain does not create new brain cells after the age of six. Recent discoveries have proven both assumptions wrong.
A person has 100 billion neurons. Each neuron has between 1,000 and 100,000 connections. That means each person has over 1,000 trillion neural connections. Those connections are not permanent. Now we know the brain changes its own structure and “wiring” as long as we live.
Around the time of birth, a baby creates about 250,000 neurons a minute. The brain continues to create new brain cells (“neurogenesis”) as long as we live.
Here is the most fascinating discovery of all. Through focused mental effort, by giving attention to this thought (and not that thought), or this attitude (and not that attitude), or this action (and not that action), we actually change the structure and wiring of our brains. Choosing to think a particular way literally changes the circuitry of the brain!
If I allow myself to worry a good bit, I am creating a brain that is wired to worry. Worry then will be my natural mental state. If I choose to trust Christ in all things, I am creating a brain that is wired to trust and be at peace.
If I choose to think about the dark side of sex, I am creating a brain that is wired to work that way. If I choose to think about the opposite sex in godly ways, more and more it will feel natural to do so because my neural pathways increasingly are wired in that direction.
With that as background, watch how these verses come alive in new ways:
“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Ps. 119:11 ESV).
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matt. 5:6 ESV).
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Rom. 12:2 ESV).
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil. 4:8 ESV).
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Col. 3:1–2 ESV).
Your mother probably said, “You are what you eat.” Now we can add to that, “What you think most about is who you will become.” That has major implications in your life as an adult and leader. It equally has major implications for each of your teenagers. Plan now how you will unpack this truth for them this summer.