The television show Limitless explores the fiction of unlocking the full potential of the human mind through medication. In the story, a miracle pill named NZT-48 supposedly allows the brain to work at superhuman efficiency, giving the user perfect recall and leaps of intuitive insight. In reality, there is no magical smart-pill. But there are ways to improve our thinking. To understand this issue, we need to go back to Genesis.
God created humanity (Genesis 1:26-27), both our physical form and our immaterial spirit. So, we shouldn’t be surprised that the brain is remarkably well-designed and surpasses anything that humans have created. Somehow our mind—the seat of our consciousness—is able to use the synapses of the brain to draw inferences and conclusions. Indeed, our ability to reason is one aspect of our having been made in the image of God (Isaiah 1:18).
But we don’t always reason correctly. When Adam rebelled against his Creator, the Lord cursed the earth (Genesis 3:1-19). This has resulted in disease, suffering, and ultimately death (Romans 8:17-23; Romans 6:23). The human mind did not escape the effects of the Curse. Our inability—and in many cases our unwillingness—to reason correctly is caused, either directly or indirectly, by the effects of the Fall. In some cases, the brain itself is the problem. It may not function as originally designed due to mutations or disease. But more often the problem is not with the brain but rather with the way we use it.
In some ways, the brain is like the hardware of a computer. A computer has memory capacity and a central processor that can access memory and process information. But a computer won’t work properly unless it also has the right software. The information stored in its memory banks must be accurate. The computer’s programming must be consistent with its design and free of viruses or other malware that can slow its performance or cause it to crash.
Likewise, what we choose to fill up our mind is often the root of our faulty reasoning rather than any problem with the brain itself. Like the psalmist, do you meditate daily upon God’s Word, filling your mind with truth?1 Or do you spend most of your time installing the malware of the world?
In Isaiah 55:7-9, the Lord challenges the sinner to repent of his way and his thoughts. The reason is given in verse 8: Sinners do not think like God, and their ways are not God’s ways. Such rebellion displeases the Lord and destroys the individual. God designed our minds to operate within a biblical worldview. They cannot and will not function consistently and reliably with any other worldview. We are supposed to base our thinking and our ways upon God’s thoughts and God’s ways as revealed in God’s Word (Matthew 7:24-25). Anything else is “shifting sand” (Matthew 7:26-27).
The Lord reminds us in Isaiah 55:9 that as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His thoughts above our thoughts and His ways above our ways. We can’t ever reach God’s level of thinking, but we can, by God’s grace, learn to reason correctly—in a way that is consistent with His nature. If you want to reason properly, if you want your brain to work as well as it possibly can, then study God’s Word. Don’t just passively read it. Study it. Memorize it. Meditate on it. This has benefit in this life and for all eternity, for our thinking ability as well as our spiritual growth.
- Psalm 119:97, 148
* Dr. Lisle is Director of Physical Sciences at the Institute for Creation Research and received his Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Colorado.