“You study the brain – shouldn’t you know better?”

A friend who was a non-believer posed this question to me, after I had just shared about how I saw God moving in various areas of my life. In that moment, I was torn between the subject that I studied and the God I worshipped.

To be honest, this wasn’t the first time my academic pursuits had prompted questions about the foundations of my faith. Learning about evolution in biology raised important questions about creationism and interpreting Genesis, while reading about determinism in philosophy made me contemplate the nature of free will and God’s sovereignty.

My friend continued, shouldn’t an understanding of psychology explain away any sentiments that a God exists, since any idea of God is just a psychological construct?

It seems impossible to escape such conflicts, as secular thought seems to inevitably result in disagreement with godly truth. That’s been my experience since secondary school. And even if the non-Christians around me don’t ask about it – they often do, knowing that I’m a Christian – I always feel like I’m being intellectually dishonest if I ignore it.

It’s particularly tricky because the contents of our education seldom directly contradict what the Bible says. Instead, they create tension with certain aspects of our theological understanding, demanding a resolution of some sort. The key is how we resolve this tension.

A common tactic for this is to find a balance between what intellectual discourse says and what Scripture says.

For example, how can we reconcile the Big Bang and the creation account in Genesis? Such a comparison often leads to subconscious biasing of rational thought, because we have been conditioned by education to believe that rational thought is the ultimate form of thinking. So we end up trying to fit God’s Kingdom into our own pre-existing worldview.

Nonetheless, even if we could find a perfect balance, this resolution strategy would still be grossly incorrect! Seeking a balance implies that both sources of knowledge are equal in value and validity. But really, the Word is the absolute truth! 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us that we are to take every thought captive to obey Christ – who is the Word made flesh.

Indeed all other knowledge must be viewed in light of Scripture – the lens of truth.

It’s important to remember that the endpoint of all of Paul’s scholarly endeavours was God – and so should ours be.

Now does this mean we should forsake the pursuit of all other domains of knowledge, since Scriptural truth is pre-eminent? This would certainly allow us to avoid the aforementioned tensions conveniently.

Of course, the answer to that question is no. There are great reasons to keep our intellect and curiosity engaged. Paul tells us in Romans 1:20a that God’s attributes are displayed in His creation, so learning about creation (such as through the various scientific disciplines) is one way of learning about God.

Furthermore, Paul himself demonstrates a wide knowledge base in Acts 17 as he speaks to the Athenians. Not only did he display a firm grasp on Greek philosophy and poetry by quoting them from memory, he also showed a continued inquisitiveness as he learnt about the society and culture he was in so that he could share the Gospel in a relevant way.

This was, after all, the same man who said, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22)

It’s important to remember that the endpoint of all of Paul’s scholarly endeavours was God – and so should ours be.

We need to constantly go back to God and His Word. And we’re not alone in this. The Holy Spirit teaches us and guides us through the Word (John 14:26), so there’s always a trusty and reliable source of truth which allows us to interpret and understand all other knowledge we encounter.

As we learn more about God, we can better understand the world that He created and the people that He loves. Having a God perspective changes our views on everything else, and we will no longer conform to worldly thinking as Paul reminds us in Romans 12:2.

My secondary school biology teacher continues to inspire me today. She regularly posts pictures of nature on social media and tags them as the “wondrous creation of God”. I think that recognising God as the Creator brings life to the subject that she enjoys and teaches.

So when it comes to me and my study of the brain, perhaps I don’t know better. But God surely does, and I’ll count on Him to lead and guide me into all truth.