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Christian Biblical Studies
I Think, Therefore God Is
Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Relent, LORD! How long will it be? Have compassion on your servants. Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble.
– Psa. 90: 12-15 (NIV-UK) –
The human mind can police its secret thoughts and its emotions, either through fear of conscience or by reference to charitable feelings – unselfish good will, or agape love (1 Cor. 13:13). It learns to develop self-control, self-denial, and a variety of other mental disciplines, by purposeful application and conscious effort to improve the quality of its disposition towards others. More than a mere repository of information, or a command-and-control mechanism, the mind is the embodiment of one’s personality and character – the Me. Its conscious choices are crucial in the development of goodness and morality, qualities essential to the well-being of self and the community.
The capacity of the mind to learn and to devise solutions to problems is remarkable, though the process is often spurred on by trial and error (heuristics, from the Greek, heuriskein, ‘to find [out]’). We often discover the right way of doing something as a consequence of first doing it the wrong way. We also learn from the mistakes of others, who generously use the instance to pass the discovery along so that others may take heed. For example, the cautionary note in a repair manual which lays stress on the maximum torque one must not exceed in tightening a certain bolt, likely reflects the fact that another had broken it by over-tightening. The father who counsels his teenage son to avoid the sins he himself committed when a youth hopes to pass on some intrinsic value from his own experience.
But two historic developments have served to undermine an appreciation of Man’s special stature and cognitive abilities: the doctrine of human evolution and advances in computer science. Allied with a deterministic point of view, held by some in the field of brain science, these developments have effectively ridiculed the idea of the ‘divine spark’, portraying Man as a by-product of genetic accidents and lacking (real) free will. The brain – not the mind, they assert – is the determinative factor.
Man was made by God to be, like Himself, a thinker and a maker of things. But as a consequence of original sin, humanity have been alienated from fellowship with the Divine Mind, their physical and mental properties damaged. The truth is that God permits ‘bad’ and perplexing things to happen in order that Man may learn by trial and error, not only in academics but also, especially, in matters of faith. Had there been no fall from grace in Eden – no sickness, suffering, death and sin – humanity would never come to appreciate nor develop the implicit rightness of virtue. It is the contrast between these two states of good and evil which illumines the teachable moment that will bear fruit in the Judgement Day, the period of time also denoted in the Scriptures as the Kingdom of Christ, and which will inure to the benefit of all people. By reason of their many generations of existence and the unsatisfactory conditions of it, humanity silently and unwittingly pray, teach us to number our days . . .
August 2018 – no copyright