Friday, April 25, 2008

Psychology of the Two Trees

I read this recent blog entry of an occasional writer for Newsweek, Wray Herbert, and thought his points are excellent. Basically, his point is that the human mind switches between thinking in two basic ways: 1) thinking in absolutes, black and white, the gist of the matter, and 2) analytically, or relativistically, carefully weighing both sides of an issue and then choosing.

Traditionally, children think in the #1 category. Young adults think more in the #2 category as they come out of their teens and begin questioning all the things they were taught as children, figuring out who they are and attempting to find their place in this world. As people age more and more, they begin thinking more and more in the #1 category again, and view the younger adults as more idealistic rather than realistic. For example, a child is told that getting drunk is bad for you, so they believe it and stay away. Young adults may reconsider this attitude if they happen to spend time around drinkers of alcohol and become sympathetic to excessive drinking, even doing it themselves. Having learned hard lessons in their younger days, more mature individuals may once again have proven that, indeed, getting drunk is bad.

The above blog entry goes on to say that teenagers show some interesting results in behavior associated with each type of thinking. Teens are at a fine balance between the two categories as their minds grow and absorb tons of new information, perspectives, advice, independence, etc. So when asked questions on the subject of the risks of sex to determine which category of thinking they fell into, those whose thought more analytically about the risks, carefully weighing both sides, tended to be the ones who took more risks with sex. Whereas the group that thought more globally about it, "sex has risk, so don't have sex", they were far less likely to begin.

I think what I find fascinating is that as children, we are told very simple instructions on how to behave. When we are older, we learn why those behaviors were good even though our younger minds were incapable of understanding the full reasons behind them. We even go on to teach many of the same lessons to our own children. It reminds me of where Jesus tells His disciples that they must become as little children in order to enter the Kingdom of God. Follow God's instructions without question and then learn why.

Adam and Eve were also given simple instructions. But when given an alternate viewpoint on the matter of the two trees by the serpent, Eve probably began thinking deeper about the two sides of the issue, weighing the risks involved, hence the, "...and when she saw it was good for food..." part. I think that's where most of mankind's troubles begin. When something as black and white as God's instructions is presented to man (I mean, He's THE source of all good, right?), does one do it or does that person begin rationalizing? Do we surrender to His will and reasoning, or begin adding our own while not remembering that God's intention is to help and save all of mankind?

When people think of the smartest in the world, they might think of deep thinkers like Albert Einstein or Socrates or Plato who turned the world upside down with their perspective-changing ideas. And yet, when God thinks of the greatest people in the world, He tells us it is those who tremble at His Word and humbly do as He says... Many times without question.

As somebody who enjoys pondering many of life's questions, usually beyond what would be considered reasonable, I fall into the trap of thinking that more thinking is better. Indeed, aligning with God's thinking is better, but we can only gain His mind by first obeying what He instructs us to do. Granted, don't kill curiosity... But rather, don't be curious in the first place in that which God clearly states, "This is the way, walk ye in it."

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