God-Given Intelligence

MY efforts to support our children each year as they endeavor to master their schoolwork always bring me some new spiritual insights about the nature of true intelligence. Of course, the conventional view is that some people are born with more intelligence than others. But in my study of Christian Science and of Christ Jesus' teachings I've learned that intelligence is a spiritual quality that God gives impartially to each of His children.

If we view intelligence as genetically determined and environmentally governed, then large differences in intelligence from individual to individual might seem reasonable. But the Bible's clear statement that ``God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him''1 really does present a different view of man, a view of man created in God's -- Spirit's -- likeness, completely spiritual.

There is an interesting Bible story that illustrates the spiritual nature of intelligence. The Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, had ordered ``the best and the brightest'' of the captive Hebrew youths be given the finest of Babylonian education and food, evidently to prepare them for service to his own country.

But Daniel and three of his friends protested against following the special food regimen. Daniel was able to persuade the person in charge of their care to allow them to forgo what the Bible calls ``the king's meat'' for a ten-day trial period. Despite their far simpler diet, at the end of the time they ``appeared fairer and fatter'' than those getting the special treatment. What's more, the Bible continues, ``As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom.''2

Certainly it's not wrong to eat or be well educated. Yet to me the story does seem to say that intelligence itself -- as well as health -- belongs to God. And because every detail of God's creation expresses Him, He gives the full gift of divine intelligence to man. Intelligence is a spiritual attribute, fully, freely, and equally a part of each individual's expression of God.

Christian Science doesn't try to fit its explanations in with biological or material views of intelligence. It operates entirely from the spiritual perspective. In response to the question ``What is intelligence?'' Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ``Intelligence is omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence. It is the primal and eternal quality of infinite Mind, of the triune Principle, -- Life, Truth, and Love, -- named God.''3

Understanding this spiritual truth can make a difference -- for us and our children. In fact, I can speak from experience of the power of these truths about intelligence. In fourteen years as a special education teacher I witnessed several cases where the label ``insufficient intelligence for normal academic performance'' had or could have been applied to the young students I was dealing with. But in each case, when I diligently prayed to understand that man's intelligence is God-given, I was able to avoid the trap of limiting my own expectation of what the students could do. And over and over again the students' own steady efforts brought startling academic achievement.

Intelligence is available to us all. It is a spiritual quality, part of God's free gift to man.

1Genesis 1:27. 2See Daniel 1:15, 17. 3Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 469.

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