Toddler Theology, Cognitive Neuroscience, Majority World Resilience, and All Things Things Totally Nuts

"Sometimes I'll be answering a question our toddler asked about God and think, 'This sounds totally nuts'."

I was a new Mom, relatively sleep-deprived, and conversing with a friend I had known for nearly half our lives. She smiled encouragingly at me. The rest of the conversation is a fuzzy memory, but that line has come back to me time and again. Routinely, I've wondered what that flicker of honesty was meant to illuminate. Until tonight.

After dinner I watched our 13-month-old explore his small world -- climbing over the clothes rack, scaling all the beds, filing books into a small case. He can produce several words and understand a plethora more in two (!!) languages. He effectively dodges tackles from his older brother and escapes snuggles from his older sister. Less than two years ago, he was a bundle of cells growing in my pelvis.

Out of nowhere, the thought hit me: this is totally nuts.

Suddenly an avalanche of moments when I had experienced the exact same sentiment tumbled through my mind. Delving into pathways of cognitive neuroscience and the intricacy of genetic coding. Dissecting a once-living person during gross anatomy. Seeing dead people brought back to life by medical codes. Witnessing bravery in the face of impending civil war in Africa. Encountering a thriving culture only one generation post-genocide in Southeast Asia.

Incredibly complex. Overwhelmingly intricate. Totally nuts. So much about life invokes wonder. Science explains a lot of our "how" questions, but many of our "why" questions merely highlight the limitations of human reasoning.

Job, a man who suffered greatly, used the mysteries he encountered as a backdrop for God's transcendent Sovereignty. After noting many marvelous qualities about nature Job concluded, "And these are but the outer fringe of (God's) works; how faint the whisper we hear of Him! Who then can understand the thunder of His power? (Job 26:14)."

As a new observer of Lent, I am making a conscious effort not to pick up my phone throughout the day (aim high, young Jedi!). One day in, I can already see my kids and my husband more clearly. I have something to bring to conversations, because I am actually generating (rather than consuming) thoughts.

Our brains are phenomenal machines, generated by the union of two tiny cells full of microscopic code. Somehow, those two cells contained all the information necessary to produce every thought that has ever passed through my mind, write this paragraph, and roll my eyes at my husband's dad jokes. Last of which, incidentally, happens when he holds up a package of almonds and says, "THIS IS NUTS."

I digress (my brain is good at digressing, as well). Is there benefit in pressing into the unknown, and learning whatever can be known? Yes. But our time, energy, and interest are limited resources that cannot be applied infinitely in all directions.

Fortunately, understanding is not a prerequisite for benefit from a system. I don't know how vehicles works. I am entirely ignorant to how the internet works. I haven't a clue how the electricity that keeps our food safe or fans running is produced and gets to our apartment. I have a very superficial understanding even of how my own brain works on a molecular level. And yet, I benefit from these functioning processes all day, every day.

More importantly, spiritual truths are not contingent on human understanding. Paul notes that the things of God are foolishness to people without His Spirit. Furthermore, believers have the mind of Christ and do not need to fear human judgment (I Corinthians 2). We can trust the Creator of all good things, even and especially with the hard questions His design made possible.


  1. Proud of you lady. Look forward to experiencing more things that are nuts with you.


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