Mapping the Brain: The Missing Dimension

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Mapping the Brain

The Missing Dimension

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In announcing government investment in continued research into mapping the human brain, U.S. President Barack Obama rightly stated: "You know, 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" (introducing the BRAIN Initiative, April 2, 2013).

The neuron is the brain's basic building block. Billions of neurons joined together by trillions of complex neural connections compose the body's most intricate organ. But is a central aspect of the human mind and brain beyond the understanding of even neuroscientists?

One of the main purposes of this mapping project would be to better treat, cure and even prevent serious brain disorders like epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease.

Apparently new technologies will be employed such as the manipulation of brain activity with light. Scientists have speculated about the great hopes of even unexpected successes. As The Economist put it: "If the project's researchers get really lucky, they might stumble across the secret of consciousness and thus answer one of the biggest questions of all" ("America's Neuroscience Initiative: Mind-Expanding," April 2, 2013, emphasis added throughout).

So one ultimate aim has to remain the potential discovery of just how the brain itself generates our conscious human minds—if indeed it really does. Many scientists now believe that some 15 billion years of cosmic evolution transformed matter into consciousness. But is that how it truly happened?

Fifteen of America's most capable neuroscientists have been assembled to initiate the project. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will lead several other respected scientific bodies to work out goals and milestones—indicating the importance of finding solutions to major health issues continually confronting the American public.

Where do we find solutions?

Although they don't realize it, many Americans, Canadians, Britons, Australians and Germans—peoples of many nations—already have a book of ultimate solutions in their homes. Even the Republic of China is not only publishing Bibles, but exporting them to other countries.

The very book that most members of the intelligentsia neglect to consult actually has workable solutions to mysteries and problems that have long puzzled and eluded mankind.

If we truly believe that God is our Creator, we accept that surely He knows just how we were put together and how to make our lives work well. King David of Israel said to God in Psalms 139:14-16 Psalms 139:14-16 [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. [16] Your eyes did see my substance, yet being imperfect; and in your book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
American King James Version×
: "I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made ... My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret ... Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed."

Only our Creator can reveal lasting solutions to mysterious human problems that intrigue, puzzle and even frustrate us. (We offer several free Bible study aids to help you have more confidence in God as your Creator and the Bible as His authentic holy Word to mankind. Read Life's Ultimate Question: Does God Exist?, Creation or Evolution: Does It Really Matter What You Believe? and Is the Bible True?)

Human mind = human brain + human spirit

The word brain is not found in the Bible. Yet God's Word has plenty to say about the human mind and heart. Our brains and our minds are very closely related. Scripture also describes what will inevitably happen to us if we persist in neglecting to submit our minds and hearts to our loving Creator and His Word, following instead the evil imaginations and desires of our hearts (Jeremiah 17:9-10 Jeremiah 17:9-10 [9] The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? [10] I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
American King James Version×
).

The Bible tells us in the early chapters of Genesis that we were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27 Genesis 1:26-27 [26] And 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. [27] So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
American King James Version×
; Genesis 5:1-2 Genesis 5:1-2 [1] This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; [2] Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.
American King James Version×
; Genesis 9:6 Genesis 9:6Whoever sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
American King James Version×
). So logically every human being has enormous potential if he or she would only seek our Creator in prayer and ask Him to redirect our paths into conformity with His righteous way of life.

The missing dimension in understanding the human brain can be summed up in just one word, and that word is spirit. The Bible tells us that a human spirit exists in every human being. It is this spirit essence that gives us human consciousness, self-awareness and understanding. As God tells us 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×
, "There is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding."

When God created the first man Adam, He "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×
). Apparently this is the moment when the spirit in man first entered into the first human being. 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×
elaborates, "Thus says the Lord, who stretched out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him."

How is it that human beings are conscious of their environment and can learn material knowledge of all kinds? The apostle Paul replies: "For what man knows the things of a man except [by] 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×
).

Because of this spirit in human beings, we are fundamentally different from the animal world. Animals have brains—in some cases much larger than ours—but the gulf between human and animal capability is vast. This spirit in man combines with our brain to give us what we commonly call the mind—and with that the ability to think, plan, create, plan for the future, learn from the past and ponder the great questions about our existence.

The spirit in man is not independently conscious

The human spirit is not some independent consciousness to be equated with what many have come to term an immortal soul. The Bible teaches that there is no consciousness in death (see "The Spirit in Man Is Not an Immortal Soul").

So what happens to the spirit in man when we die?  King Solomon mused on this question in Ecclesiastes 3:21 Ecclesiastes 3:21Who knows the spirit of man that goes upward, and the spirit of the beast that goes downward to the earth?
American King James Version×
: "Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward [at death]?" But he answers the mystery in the concluding chapter: "Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it" (Ecclesiastes 12:7 Ecclesiastes 12:7Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return to God who gave it.
American King James Version×
).

During Jesus Christ's last moments of human consciousness, just before taking His final breath, He said, "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit" (Luke 23:46 Luke 23:46And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into your hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.
American King James Version×
). The spirit leaves a human being when he or she dies, and it goes back to God who gave it.

But again, it is by no means then a disembodied consciousness. Rather, it is a record of our makeup and thoughts that God will use to enliven us anew in the future resurrection from the dead. (Imagine a running computer program that is shut down when the computer is turned off—and then transferring that program to another machine with a new operating system and reactivating the program with the data intact.)

But this is very far from the whole story. We return to 1 Corinthians 2 to connect the dots and fill in more of this marvelous picture. The spirit of man impacts conversion and salvation, the overall purpose of life and the whole plan of God for humanity.

The Holy Spirit and the spirit in man

In the verse previously quoted from Paul about the spirit in man, 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×
, he continues, "Even so no one knows the things of God except [by] the spirit of God." Without the Holy Spirit, people's understanding of spiritual truths remains very limited. Capable men have written whole commentaries about the Bible and yet still lacked real comprehension of spiritual truths obvious to converted people who possess the Holy Spirit.

In the next verse, Paul goes on to say, "Now we [Christians] 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" (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×
, King James Version). The precious spiritual knowledge of our Creator cannot come to us unless He reveals it by His Holy Spirit.

Continuing in the same context: "These [spiritual] things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (1 Corinthians 2:13 1 Corinthians 2:13Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
American King James Version×
). Material knowledge emerges from the possession of the spirit in man. But spiritual knowledge that ultimately results in salvation and everlasting life can only come during this age of man if God the Father chooses to call us (John 6:44 John 6:44No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
American King James Version×
, John 6:65 John 6:65And he said, Therefore said I to you, that no man can come to me, except it were given to him of my Father.
American King James Version×
).

Why are there so many atheists, agnostics and unbelieving secularists ignorant of God and His purpose and plan for human existence? Paul next states in 1 Corinthians 2, "But the natural man does not receive the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 2:14 1 Corinthians 2:14But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
American King James Version×
).

Paul expresses this basic principle in another way elsewhere in Romans 8:6-7 Romans 8:6-7 [6] For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. [7] Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
American King James Version×
: "For to be carnally [fleshly or naturally] minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be."

The expected result: "If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His" (Romans 8:9 Romans 8:9But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
American King James Version×
). All truly converted Christians have the Holy Spirit. But how do we receive it?

The Holy Spirit combines with the spirit in man

Normally several things must happen before we can receive the Holy Spirit. First God the Father must select us for salvation as one of His firstfruits (James 1:18 James 1:18Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
American King James Version×
)—God's converted people over the entire span of human history until Christ's return. As part of calling us (John 6:44 John 6:44No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
American King James Version×
), God reveals saving spiritual knowledge and leads us to repentance and even to having faith (Romans 2:4 Romans 2:4Or despise you the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
American King James Version×
; Hebrews 11:6 Hebrews 11:6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
American King James Version×
). After that we must be baptized, and then we will receive the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands of Christ's ministry (Acts 2:37-39 Acts 2:37-39 [37] Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brothers, what shall we do? [38] Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. [39] For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.
American King James Version×
; Acts 3:19 Acts 3:19Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
American King James Version×
; Acts 8:12 Acts 8:12But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
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, Acts 8:15-17 Acts 8:15-17 [15] Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: [16] (For as yet he was fallen on none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) [17] Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version×
).

But how does the spirit in man fit into this overall scenario? Paul tells us in Romans 8:16 Romans 8:16The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
American King James Version×
: "The [Holy] Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit [the spirit in man], that we are the children of God" (KJV). Apparently at the moment when we are first converted, the Holy Spirit merges with the spirit in man within us.

By physical analogy, this occurrence is not unlike what happens at human conception. A male sperm merges with a female egg to form a new human being. As one science book put it: "Human life begins in ... cooperation of the most intimate sort. The two cells wholly merge. They combine their genetic material. Two very different beings become one. The act of making a human being involves ... cooperation so perfect that the partners' separate identities vanish" (Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, 1992, p. 199).

How wonderful are the ways of God!

Summing up

For many decades neuroscientists have diligently studied the complex wiring of the human brain. This cumulative knowledge has grown many times over and been documented by many books and research papers on the subject.

Man was made in the image of God, and there seems to be no material knowledge that can be withheld from him. Our Creator remarked on man's knowledge potential at the ancient Tower of Babel: "This is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose [or imagine] to do will be withheld from them" (Genesis 11:6 Genesis 11:6And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
American King James Version×
).

Our examination here is in no way intended to denigrate mankind's true scientific knowledge about the human brain, nor his further research into its marvelous workings. The book of Daniel foretold that one of the characteristics of the time of the end, the period leading up to Christ's return, would be that knowledge would markedly increase (Daniel 12:4 Daniel 12:4But you, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
American King James Version×
), and this is certainly true of our age.

But what about God's awesome plan and purpose for human beings? Should we not also study and research into the subject of salvation and our future as a worthy project during our entire lives as Christians?

Does God have a way of continuing life after death into a glorious paradise? Jesus Christ and His apostles guarantee that everlasting life in the Kingdom of God will definitely happen (John 5:24-29 John 5:24-29 [24] Truly, truly, I say to you, He that hears my word, and believes on him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death to life. [25] Truly, truly, I say to you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. [26] For as the Father has life in himself; so has he given to the Son to have life in himself; [27] And has given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. [28] Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, [29] And shall come forth; they that have done good, to the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation.
American King James Version×
; 1 Corinthians 15:22-23 1 Corinthians 15:22-23 [22] For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. [23] But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
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)—but only if we individually choose to meet the spiritual conditions God sets for us.

Returning to 1 Corinthians 2, we find Paul speaking in 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 [9] But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him. [10] But God has revealed them to us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
American King James Version×
of the glimpse God gives us through His Holy Spirit of the awesome future He has planned for us: "But as it is written: 'Eye has not seen, or ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the spirit searches all things, yes, thedeep things of God."

 

[Read the corresponding article: The Spirit in Man Is Not an Immortal Soul]