Little Children

David Cowles

Jun 10, 2021

The Gospel of Matthew (18:3) quotes Jesus as saying, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” Why not? What is it that little children have that we don’t? Turns out, little children have an ability that almost all of us have lost: the ability to hold several different, and superficially inconsistent, models of reality at the same time.

The Gospel of Matthew (18:3) quotes Jesus as saying, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” Why not? What is it that little children have that we don’t? Turns out, little children have an ability that almost all of us have lost: the ability to hold several different, and superficially inconsistent, models of reality at the same time.


My 7 year old grandson, for example, understands and accepts the validity of Zeno’s paradoxes, even though he knows he can easily beat me in a foot race. One of the intellectual giants of the 20th century, Bertrand Russell, couldn’t get there.


We are conditioned by the mathematics of Euclid, the physics of Newton, and Hawking’s search for a TOE (Theory of Everything) to believe that the universe is linear, static and rigidly self-consistent. Except, of course, we know that it isn’t! Simple example: wave/particle duality. Subatomic entities sometimes behave as waves and sometimes as particles.


“Complementarianism” permeates all of Quantum Mechanics…and all of Christian theology.

An early example comes from the pre-Socratic philosopher, Parmenides. He composed his great ontological poem (On Nature) a mere 2500 years ago. For Parmenides (as I read him), reality has two distinct aspects: Aletheia (absolute permanence) and Doxa (perpetual change). To understand the universe we have to be able to accept both models as simultaneously true. In later installments of “Thoughts”, we will see that the same is true of Christian cosmology.

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