Why is the human mind so much greater than animal brain? Could the Bible hold the vital answer to this age-old question?
[Steve Myers] Why is the human mind so much greater than animal brain?
Even the ancients wanted to answer this question. The Egyptians and the Greeks explored the brain’s function. By 400 BC Hippocrates discovered that the brain played an important role in sensation and intelligence.
But the mind itself is even more fascinating. Philosophers have sought answers. Psychologists try to understand the “why” behind the human mind.
Is there any possibility that the Bible could hold the key?
Is there an answer that can satisfy the question: What makes our mind so different than animal brain?
Have you considered that the Word of God could provide insight to answer that question?
You won’t want to miss this special edition of Beyond Today as we discuss: “The Mystery of the Mind.”
[Announcer] Join our host Steve Myers and his guests as they help you understand your future on Beyond Today!
[Steve] What makes mankind special? Are we in a class by ourselves or just the smartest of the animals?
Physical characteristics of the human brain don’t fully explain our extreme creative and intellectual powers. Science and the Bible agree—there’s something that makes the human mind very different from animal brain.
We can’t help but wonder why. It was recently announced here in the US, that as a part of a $100 million collaborative effort, Johns Hopkins University will participate in what’s been called “the next great American project.” What is it? It’s a project to fund neuroscience research aimed at mapping the brain and developing a better understanding of how the human brain works.
[President Barak Obama] “As humans, we can identify galaxies light years away, we can study particles smaller than an atom. But we still haven’t unlocked the mystery of the three pounds of matter that sits between our ears…There’s this enormous mystery, waiting to be unlocked” (Obama Brain Initiative).
[Steve] The secret of the mind and how it works—is it possible that the mystery can be unlocked in the pages of your Bible? You need to know.
Understanding that mystery is key in understanding your purpose and it’s critical to the plan God has for you and for all people.
Scripture tells us that we can know more about God from observing nature and life itself. “What can be known about God is clear to them because he has made it clear to them. From the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly observed in what he made…” (Romans 1:19-20 Romans 1:19-20 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has showed it to them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
American King James Version×, GW).
What is it that makes us so superior to animals? Think for a moment, how were you created? “[God] made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it. You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion!” (Psalms 139:13-15 Psalms 139:13-15 13 For you have possessed my reins: you have covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise you; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are your works; and that my soul knows right well. 15 My substance was not hid from you, when I was made in secret, and curiously worked in the lowest parts of the earth.
American King James Version×, TLB).
God made our bodies and our minds in a remarkable way. I spoke with Kayleen Schreiber, a 4th-year PhD candidate in Neuroscience at the University of Iowa about the mystery of the mind.
[Kayleen Schreiber] The more that I study about the brain, the more amazing I realize that it is. The human brain has we think around, somewhere around 80 billion neurons. Neurons are the cells that communicate with each other through electrical or chemical connections called synapses. In addition to a lot of other types of cells like glia that do other processes like clean up waste products and sort of help neurons function correctly, and each neuron we think has somewhere around 40 thousand connections or synapses. So, you can imagine that when you multiply all those together that means that there’s almost a limitless amount of connections and networks and possibilities for the functions of the brain. So it’s almost incomprehensible how complicated and how amazingly designed it is.
[Steve] Science most often considers man just the most evolved animal. Yet there are difficulties with that premise.
[Kayleen] When we look at the physical structure of animal brains compared to human brains, we see a lot of similarities. And of course brains like those in chimps are going to be more similar to human brains. There isn’t really a good sufficient answer for why are humans able to do so many more things and so much more sophisticated type tasks than animals just from looking at the physical brain itself—there isn’t really a sufficient answer.
[Steve] Yet several explanations are proposed to support the concept that man is simply at the top of the animal kingdom. Does the relative size of man’s brain confirm that idea?
[Kayleen] We don’t have a big enough brain to really account for everything that we can do. Another thing is the density of the cells in the brain and maybe the connections between them are more than other animals, but again there isn’t really enough of a difference between human brains and for example, chimpanzee brains to really have that account for everything. There’s a couple other ideas, one idea is that we have a more developed and bigger prefrontal cortex, but again it’s really not that much bigger enough to account for all the things that we can do.
But of course, because science is always searching for answers and it’s always measuring the physical world that we can measure and observe, Scientists do think in the future that they will be able to figure out why it is that we can do what we do.
[Steve] At times it seems that when science discovers important new information, it leads to even further investigations searching for answers.
[Kayleen] The key that they thought was going to unlock our understanding really just opened up a lot more questions, which is true of almost every scientific discovery. Things are just a lot more complicated than we think they’re going to be.
[Steve] Our world was created in a beautiful, intricate, multifaceted way. The apostle Paul explained it this way: “Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It’s way over our heads. We’ll never figure it out. Is there anyone around who can explain God? Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do? Anyone who has done him such a huge favor that God has to ask his advice? Everything comes from him; Everything happens through him; Everything ends up in him. Always glory! Always praise!” (Romans 11:33-36 Romans 11:33-36 33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
34 For who has known the mind of the Lord? or who has been his counselor?
35 Or who has first given to him, and it shall be recompensed to him again?
36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
American King James Version×, MSG).
The Bible describes the concept that God created science. Since He did, there’s no reason for Christians to ignore science, even though false conclusions of science have to be questioned. Now, we shouldn’t feel that we have to choose between Christianity and science, as true scientific study harmonizes with the Word of God.
[Kayleen] The Bible is the foundation of truth and science is a great method for learning about the creation. I think those two things can go hand in hand easily, and it hasn’t been a huge conflict for me.
Studying science, and especially neuroscience, has actually helped build my relationship with God and build my faith because the more that you study about it, the more that you see how amazingly complicated and well-designed it is that even non-Christian scientists or people who are atheists, they recognize how amazing it is. They just wouldn’t attribute it to God.
[Steve] But the Bible does attribute it to God. “It was by Him that everything was created: the heavens, the earth, all things within and upon them, all things seen and unseen…Every detail was crafted through His design, by His own hands, and for His purposes” (Colossians 1:16 Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
American King James Version×, VOICE).
That creation includes visible and invisible things—the physical and the spirit realm.
[Kayleen] It’s a little bit interesting to think about the spirit world and science because, as a scientist we measure and observe things that are physical. Those are the only things that we can observe. And those are the only things that you can design experiments around and really test or disprove a hypothesis. But I think it’s interesting to think about how science hasn’t found a good explanation for why the human mind is so amazing and why we’re so different from animals.
[Steve] It’s important to remember that research on the human brain is based on what can be seen, observed, or subjected to experimentation. Could there be something more—something that can’t be measured? Might there be a non-physical part that can help answer the mystery of the mind?
I’d like to help you answer that question. I have a special detailed Bible study aid designed to make it easier for you to unlock a proper understanding. It’s called: Creation or Evolution: Does It Really Matter What You Believe?
You can request this free study aid by calling: 1-888-886-8632. Or go online to BeyondToday.tv to download, read or order your copy of Creation or Evolution .
This free study guide will help you understand the incredible truth about the mystery of the mind as you discover your purpose and future.
The Bible reveals why the human mind is so vastly superior to animal brain. Right from the beginning, it clearly shows that man is so much more than just an animal.
God made all the animals—the birds, cattle, and insects, reptiles, fish. They were all designed to reproduce after their own kind. But man was different. God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26 Genesis 1:26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
American King James Version×).
But man was not created to be an animal. He was not of the animal kind. The Bible states clearly: Man was made after the God kind. No wonder God said, “Let us make man in our image.”
Now notice something else. There was even a difference in the way man was made: “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7 Genesis 2:7And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
American King James Version×).
In other created things we see God speaking to bring them into life. But man was different. God “formed” and “breathed into” man, which indicates an intimate, hands-on, personal involvement.
Now in one way, man is no different than animal. He was made of the same basic elements that are in the soil like the other creatures. Science eventually discovered that fact, but God told us that right from the very beginning.
But there’s a monumental difference between man and animal when it comes to the human mind. Why? Because there is a non-physical component in man’s brain that is not in an animal brain. As surprising as it may sound, there is a spiritual element that God gives to every person.
Your Bible reveals this in Job 32:8 Job 32:8But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty gives them understanding.
American King James Version×: “But there is a spirit in man, And the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding” (NKJV).
When God created man, He gave him something that wasn’t physical—a special human spirit. It is this spirit that actuates our thinking that enables humans to have a mind in the image of God’s. The Amplified Bible says that God “breathed into his nostrils the breath or spirit of life, and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7 Genesis 2:7And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
American King James Version×).
When you ask, “Why is the output of the human mind so vastly superior to the animal brain?” The Bible answers that God placed within human brains a spirit that gives us distinct human qualities and abilities. It is a spirit essence. We’re told our reasoning capabilities come from God and that He “forms the spirit of man within him” (Zechariah 12:1 Zechariah 12:1The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, said the LORD, which stretches forth the heavens, and lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him.
American King James Version×)
This spirit in man gives us the power and ability to know the things that animals cannot know. The human spirit empowers us to comprehend abstract concepts like philosophy, mathematics. The human spirit gives us the capacity to appreciate literature, art and music.
In the Proverbs we’re told: “The lamp of the Eternal illuminates the human spirit” (Proverbs 20:27 Proverbs 20:27The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.
American King James Version×, VOICE). But without the human spirit, we would be like an animal—darkened and dependent on instinct, not having the power of reason.
Have you noticed these passages before in the Bible? Scripture reveals the mystery of the mind is the spirit in man—and it expresses it over and over again.
The apostle Paul was inspired to say it this way: “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?” (1 Corinthians 2:11 1 Corinthians 2:11For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God.
American King James Version×). In other words: how can a human being know or think? How can a person understand, perceive and have a consciousness of self? Your Bible, the Word of God says it can only be made possible by the spirit in man.
The spirit in man elevates us light years above the animals. It actuates our thinking and gives us self-awareness. It imparts qualities of the human mind including intellect, creativity, temperament, achievement and knowledge. Those are the aspects of our thinking that make us human. Those are the attributes that science can’t measure. We can appreciate art, design things, we can plan and create.
God, who wants us to think like Him, gave us this ability. “The Lord, the true God, said these things. He created the sky and spread it out over the earth. He formed the earth and everything it produced. He breathes life into all the people on earth. He gives a spirit to everyone who walks on the earth” (Isaiah 42:5 Isaiah 42:5Thus said God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which comes out of it; he that gives breath to the people on it, and spirit to them that walk therein:
American King James Version×, ERV).
Our minds have powerful attributes because we’ve been given the spirit in man. We have the ability to make choices. We can exercise our own resolve and carry out those choices.
Now on the other hand, man’s free will can lead down a dangerous path. We’ve invented weapons that assure mutual mass destruction. We hate and murder and threaten. We have been given free moral agency—and even in this—not a single animal can compare.
But God intended our thinking to be like His—very good. We can imagine the future. We can plan ahead and we have a sense of destiny and purpose.
So it’s important to realize that the human spirit itself, it can’t see. The physical brain sees, through the eyes. The human spirit in a person can’t hear. The brain hears through the ears. The human spirit cannot think. The brain thinks because the spirit imparts the power to reason.
If we made it into an equation, it would look like this: human brain plus human spirit, equals human mind.
Yet even this isn’t the full answer—there’s more.
And this is critical: the human spirit has no consciousness apart from the body, for man is mortal. At death our thinking ceases as the Psalm tells us: “Do not trust in princes, In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation. His spirit departs, he returns to the earth; In that very day his thoughts perish” (Psalms 146:3-4 Psalms 146:3-4 3 Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. 4 His breath goes forth, he returns to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
American King James Version×, NASB).
Can you imagine what man would be like without the spirit in man? The Bible actually gives us an example of the difference between a man with the human spirit and one who does not have it. It’s found in Daniel 4.
Now this is a true story: King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was boasting about his great kingdom—when God took his empire and something else from him. The king was “driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws” (Daniel 4:33 Daniel 4:33The same hour was the thing fulfilled on Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.
American King James Version×).
Apparently, he wasn’t just driven off—the king actually became like an animal. He no longer thought like a man or reasoned like a man—but instead; he was like an animal.
Then, something amazing happened to the king. Various translations say this: “at the end of the time…my understanding returned to me (Daniel 4:34 Daniel 4:34And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honored him that lives for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:
American King James Version×, NKJ); my mind was healed (CEV); I could think normally again (NCV); I was given my mind back (Message).”
It seems that God took the human spirit from the king. And what resulted? He became like an animal. When he was given back that spirit, it actuated his thinking, his reasoning. And it turned on the light bulb and changed everything.
“At the same time my reason returned to me, and…My counselors and nobles resorted to me, I was restored to my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added to me” (Daniel 4:36 Daniel 4:36At the same time my reason returned to me; and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor and brightness returned to me; and my counsellors and my lords sought to me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added to me.
American King James Version×).
You could say, he was human again! The spirit in man makes the difference between animals and humans, making it possible to think, and reason, and have self-consciousness—the attributes which God Himself has.
Yet, that’s not all. Something’s still missing. There’s even more to the story. So up next, we’ll discuss critical details with the Beyond Today panel that you won’t want to miss.
But first, I hope you’ll want to learn more about God’s incredible creation and His plan for you. I have a unique free offer for you.
It’s a valuable study aid that will help you discover the full answer to the mystery. Creation or Evolution: Does It Really Matter What You Believe? —this valuable study guide will help you unlock the why—behind the secret of the mind.
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Our topic today is the power of the human mind that God has given us by the spirit in man. To discuss this further fellow Beyond Today hosts, Darris McNeely and Gary Petty, join me.
Now we were talking about how the human spirit combines with the human brain to equal the human mind. But that only tells a part of the story, doesn’t it?
[Darris] It does. There’s still a vast gulf. There’s still another missing dimension there and that’s really the spirit of God. We have, as you well explained in your program today, this spirit in man that separates us from the animal brain.
The apostle Paul talks about this in 1 Corinthians 2 in a very remarkable verse. In verse 11 he says, “For who among men knows the thoughts of the man except the man’s spirit within him” (1 Corinthians 2:11 1 Corinthians 2:11For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God.
American King James Version×NASB)
The thoughts of this world, the knowledge and understanding of this world is known because we have this spirit within us. Paul very clearly brings that out.
But he goes on in the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:12 1 Corinthians 2:12Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
American King James Version×).That’s what’s missing. And that is the major gap there that is a missing dimension in this whole subject.
[Gary] You know what’s amazing is something that’s hinted at in the Old Testament but really expounded by the apostle Paul, is the concept that human beings are incomplete. That we are created with the human mind—it makes us superior to animals, but we have this potential to live forever. To live forever in a different way of living and to become spirit beings. But, we’re incomplete creations. And God has to complete the creation in us and that’s where the concept of receiving God’s Holy Spirit, which is throughout the New Testament, is a recreation so that we are able then to be changed at the return of Jesus Christ and enter into the family of God.
[Steve] So really, you’ve got two monumental leaps. You’ve got the spirit in man that makes this giant leap between animal and human brain—human mind, and then you’ve got the human mind added to the spirit of God. When they join together, then that takes you to a whole other level.
[Darris] Absolutely. There is a scripture from the prophet Isaiah where God says through the prophet to man, “my ways are not your ways, your thoughts are not my thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8 Isaiah 55:8For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, said the LORD.
American King James Version×).
And it’s a remarkable verse to help us understand again, this vast gulf between the way God thinks and looks and the way man looks. And it helps us to understand, again what you’re talking about, that there is this vast gulf between animal brain and human mind. And to bridge the first requires the spirit of God. To bridge the second requires the spirit in man.
But that again, that opens up this vast understanding of why man thinks the way he does. We are conscious beings. We know we are. And we also yearn and want to understand why we are, and that there is something beyond us. There is this spiritual craving. This topic Steve, really, begins to get us to some of those profound understandings about who and what man is.
[Gary] Once we have the human mind coupled with the spirit of God, something profound happens. And the apostle Paul talks about this in the book of Romans.
He says, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you received the Spirit of adoption, by [which] we cry out, ‘Abba, Father’” (Romans 8:14-15 Romans 8:14-15 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15 For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
American King James Version×).
God literally becomes our Father because we receive His Spirit and now He will work in us to become what our real potential is—to be His children forever.
[Steve] That changes everything.
[Gary] It changes everything.
[Darris] It does.
[Steve] So if we are really going to complete the equation, you’d have to say, the human brain, plus the spirit in man, plus the spirit of God, equals a godly mind. The potential then to really have a relationship with God which then…
[Darris] To become a son of God.
[Steve] It changes it all.
[Gary] It changes it all.
[Steve] Well God has given us amazing potential. Potential to be His sons and daughters forever. And that’s a potential that every human being has.
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Hi, I’m Steve Myers. I’m the pastor here at the United Church of God Cincinnati East congregation. I’d like to welcome you to come and join us on this great spiritual journey. We have hundreds of congregations around the United States and across the world. Click on the “Congregations” tab to find a church near you. We’re committed to growing in our relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ as well as fellowshipping with each other.
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Science has discovered incredible things about the brain, yet it can’t explain fully the functioning of the human mind. What is the mystery of the mind?
Your Bible clearly explains the secret: “…it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding” (Job 32:8 Job 32:8But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty gives them understanding.
American King James Version×, NIV).
We are more than just physical beings. There’s a special spiritual component, which God gives to every person that imparts awareness and intelligence. It is this human spirit that enables you with the potential to have a mind in God’s image.
I hope you’ll want to find out more about what God has revealed: The mystery of the mind is the spirit in a man.
That’s our program for today. Don’t forget our free offers and be sure to tell your family and friends about us. Tune in again next week for another edition of Beyond Today and join me in praying, “Thy Kingdom come.” For Beyond Today I’m Steve Myers. Thanks for watching.
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