A new piece from our own @LM77!
@LM77 I’m so glad you wrote up those thoughts from that interesting neurodiversity thread you started. I think the theological points you make are applicable to so many other areas of difference that people are born with, and it is a good and needed challenge for all Christians to look more critically at the ways they are framing how God created some people as “broken” or “damaged” instead of simply atypical.
Jim interviewed me about the forum and the Integrate curriculum for the BioLogos podcast and I was trying to communicate how valuable the forum is for external processors like me (and probably you, but I don’t want to speak for you), because I actually figure out what I think and believe and need to understand better through the process of putting my thoughts into words with other people. I’ve never been one for journaling because journals don’t give any feedback, though I recognize there is value in the discipline. Sometimes I think that this forum serves a similar purpose as journaling for people of a different bent. In order for me to be introspective I need to pull all the thoughts out of myself and dissect them with others so I understand them.
Interesting read, Liam. Thank you for sharing that. I have a brother with the same condition. It was always obvious that he was a thinking, intelligent person but had some coding difficulty going from verbal to written form. The ideas were good and he expressed them well orally. Before the advent of writing, it is hard to imagine how he would have stood out as different in any way from everyone else.
Excellent article, @LM77 ! This conversation about the Imago Dei as it relates to neurodiversity is so important. It’s easy to think that where we don’t measure up to religious or cultural expectations is sin, when really there is purpose and beauty and strength!
Thanks for your kind feedback, Christy. I agree that many of the points could be applicable to other topics too. Certainly space for a wider conversation there.
Absolutely. That’s me down to a tee. Funnily enough what I miss most about studying theology is not the lectures or the essay but the conversations over the pool table or over a pint in the pub. And I guess that is what I appreciate about the forum too. I can use it as a place to think out loud with others. In fact, I think that all three of my BioLogos articles to date have come out of threads or discussions that began here on the forum.
Great article, I liked the idea that dyslexia would still exist in the new creation.
Whilst dyslexia has its draw backs, my case my writing is horrible to the point that I can’t always read it and spelling can be a big issue especially with homophones, it has pushed me to develop coping mechanisms to compensate. In particular, since I couldn’t rely on reading my lessons, I developed a very good memory of what I write as coping mechanism.
And developing coping mechanisms is in large part what make humans humans, we usually call it inventing or innovating. After all we didn’t invent cars because we could run fast and carry heavy loads. We didn’t invente spears because we had powerful teeth and claw. We invented them for the opposite reason. And compensating for these short comings has not only compensated for them but made us better.
In fact, I’ve seen some people claim that Homo neanderthalensis disappeared because their tougher and more powerful bodies ment they didn’t need to develop the tools that homo sapiens needed and developed and ultimately ment they got replaced by homo sapiens. Now I find it a bit of a stretch but if its true it would back that some of our short comings can be used to develop our greatest strengths.
As for me technology cover most of the more problematic issue. I can write on a computer to compensate for my bad writing and spell checker help for spelling.
Thank you @KateKnut. I’m so glad you liked it.
Agreed. If the image of God is about how we relate to God and represent God, not in abstract attributes, but as holistic beings then that changes how we approach things like neurodiversity.
I think Christians can too easily buy into ideals that say that ‘goodness’ must mean uniformity of ability. That somehow it wasn’t (Eden) or won’t be (New Creation) perfect unless we’re all smart enough to be brain surgeons and fit enough to run 100m in a gold medal time. But the bible’s vision of God’s intention for humanity is a people perfect in character and holiness but not necessarily ability. Jesus after all still had to grow in wisdom and stature along with all the other boy his age in Nazareth.
As you say, in our differences there is purpose and beauty and strength. Especially when these differences allow us to serve, and be served by, one another in mutual love and respect. When that kind of unity in diversity exists it reflects I would argue the unity in diversity in the Trinity.
If that is the case maybe we reflect the image of God not only as persons, but also as people, as communities.
What do you think?
I’m crying reading this while holding my newborn daughter. She has a 50/50 chance of being dyslexic like me. Thank you Liam for sharing your thoughts and I what believe God’s heart for dyslexics (and all other intellectual differences).
Hi Abigail, welcome to the forum. I’m honoured that you joined to share your thoughts on my article and equally thankful to the Lord that it was what you needed to hear at this moment. Thanks again.
Thanks for writing this, Liam. I appreciate the invitation to think about the kind of language we use and how that can either help or hurt those among us who are neurodiverse.
This section stood out to me:
These negative consequences arise from the structure of our society. Especially, a “one size fits all” attitude to education and employment.
Sounds like context is key. Which reminds me of the idea that “all mutations are detrimental” which was popular among some of the YEC voices I used to listen to. But I eventually came to learn that most mutations are neutral, and positive or negative results of it depend largely on the organism’s environment. So I guess that applies on a human scale too, in the sense that our communities have a lot of power (and therefore responsibility) in how we respond and relate to those with diverse skills.
Amen! The more I learn about the natural world, this theme of interdependence and diversity keeps showing up. This describes the church as the Body of Christ in1 Corinthians 12, and it precedes how we are to love in chapter 13. I think it’s reflected in how humans exhibit the Imago Dei, even by common grace. It’s easy to pass off people (or their behaviors) and situations in the world that we don’t like as “fallen,” and assume our social preferences are the biblical manifestations of right living. But how Christ demonstrates love in his relationships with people, especially those in the margins, do point to a Kingdom that is good as it is diverse and interconnected at its most lovely and powerful, and dare I say, possibly truly holy? Maybe the Imago Dei embracing neurodiversity is the Spirit bringing peace on earth and answering the prayers of for the Kingdom to come, the creation becoming new.
Welcome, @Abigail_Kirchhofer ! I hope you have so much hope as you hold your newborn I’ve also found joy and freedom knowing that if my children have a brain like mine, it’s a beautiful thing with its own challenges, assets, and potential.