The Human Brain

The conundrum that is the human brain

Recently I have been reading and re-reading a book entitled Livewired, the Inside Story of the Ever-Changing Brain by David Eagleman. I marvel at this organ’s plasticity (to use the author’s term for its flexibilty and adaptability), and  at its complexity, but especially its creative capability.

‘The human brain consists of eighty-six billion cells called neurons: cells that        shuttle information rapidly’; ‘they are intricate forest-like networks [with            innumerable interactive] connections. There are twenty times more cells . . . in            a cubit millimetre of cortical tissue than there are human beings on the entire   planet.’

So, why, oh why is this incredible organ of our mortal bodies never even hinted at in Scripture?

Another book that I recently bought and read is Brain Bytes – Quick Answers to Quirky Questions about the Brain. The authors Eric Chudler and Lise Johnson inform their readers that:

‘The brain was not always held in high esteem. For example, while preparing         mummies, the ancient Egyptians preserved the heart, liver, stomach, intestines,     kidneys and lungs of the deceased, but they scooped out the brain through the           nose and threw it away. The heart, not the brain, was thought to be responsible             for thinking, sensing, and feeling. The ancient Egyptians, however, are       credited for the oldest written record using the word brain in the Edwin Smith   Surgical Papyrus.’

Our body parts piece by piece

When I began to grapple with this biological mystery I found myself recollecting the vast variety of external and internal bodily parts, ranging from head to toe, that are referred to in the Bible – and most of them are afforded many mentions. Just look at these twenty example that I have chosen quite randomly from a concordance (all from the New Living Translation).

Some part are visible, such as:

head (e.g. 1 Corinthians 11:10), supporting

            hair (Genesis 42:38),

            eyes (John 9:6),

            ears (Matthew 13:9),

            nostrils (Genesis 2:7) of the

            nose (Proverbs 30:33),

            lips (Isaiah 6:5),

            teeth (Song of Songs 4:2),

            hands (Genesis 48:17) with

            thumbs (Judges 1:6-7).

Then there are the:

thigh (Judges 3:16),

            knees (Era 9:6),

            ankles (Ezekiel 47:3),

            heels (Genesis 3:15), and

            toes  (Leviticus 8:24).

Other members of the body are hidden organs (as of course is the overlooked brain):

stomach (1 Timothy 5:23),

            bones (Exodus 12:46),

            kidneys (Leviticus 3:4),

            liver (Leviticus 3:4), and

            heart (Psalm 119:161).

I will admit that I can’t find tonsils or even lungs mentioned anywhere in Scripture either! But as a male writer I must be careful to add to my list two vital female organs – the mother’s womb (Genesis 25:23) that protects and nourishes the new persons that grow within there, and  her breasts (Song of Songs 7:13) at which her newborn babies will feed.

Interestingly, Scripture parallels the concept of the people of ancient Egypt who attributed spirituality to the heart. When we consider such invisible non-tangeable activities as feelings, thoughts, desires etc we don’t tend to associate them with the circuitry of the brain. And that headliner topic of this generation, ‘mindfulness‘, is certainly a matter of heart attitude surely?

So, what might be the answer to this puzzle?

My answer is that I don’t have an answer. Obviously the brain is of importance to neuroscientists because it operates quietly and effectively to imbibe information from our five sense of sight and hearing, touch, smell and taste. Also it stimulates so many motor responses that enable us to walk and talk, to type and drive, and multitudes of  more activities. But one’s relationship with God is not dependent on this highly developed bodily organ. In my travels to a variety of cultures I have got to know many individuals at close range; some of them have, even despite intellectual limitations, enjoyed an evident relationship with God.

So, I conclude, in current phraseology, that the fact that Scripture omits any mention of this amazing organ is ‘a no-brainer‘ after all!

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