Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Below the Surface

When people I meet find out that I study psychology, the most cliché question they ask is “so are you analyzing me right now?” Another question that I tend to get is harder to answer and usually occurs later in relationships. Sometimes they ask: “so what do you think is wrong with me?” The former question is such a cliché that most people in my business have some cliché answer to give them, such as: “What would make you think I am analyzing you, do you have something to hide?”

Sometimes people seem to think that studying psychology gives you magical powers so that you can see deep into the core of people you barely know. This is as ridiculous as saying that physicists can see electrons without a microscope.

 At the end of the second chapter of the Gospel of John, we are told that Jesus “knew all men” and that he “knew what was in a man.” There was no such thing as psychology when the book of John was written. There was no scientific way to interpret people’s behavior. Jesus knows all men because he can look below the surface. He knows every neural action that happens in our brains. Sometimes I imagine him chuckling at our naiveté, like we would chuckle at a child who is trying to learn something new.

I think it is incredibly valuable that humans seek to understand our own brains and thinking processes. It is an intellectually stimulating pursuit that is very beneficial to humanity. However, psychology is a flawed human science just like every other human-formed entity. There is always a margin of error and bias. Christ, on the other hand, is not a flawed human entity. He knows you completely, with no margin of error.

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