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Vital Signs

The Universe Within

Dr. James Watson, one of the discoverers of DNA, has written that the human brain is “the most complex thing we have yet discovered in the universe.”  Indeed, with its 100 billion cells, the human brain is a universe within a skull.  This isn’t an original insight: The importance of the brain was understood for thousands of years before scientists were able to analyze and explain its electrical and chemical complexities.  The contemporary mapping of the brain only reinforces an understanding that goes back into the distant reaches of history.

The more we learn about the brain’s structure, about the firing of neurons and the functioning of specific areas, the more our sense of wonder increases.  But neuroscience and chemistry cannot fully encompass the miracle of the brain—or, more importantly, the mind.  Only the fixated materialist believes that the mind is nothing more than the sum of the brain’s electrochemical actions.

The extreme of materialism is revealed in the words of Dr. Marvin Minsky of MIT who said that the brain is just “hundreds of machines . . . connected to each other by bundles of nerve fibers, but not everything is connected to everything else.  There is not any ‘you’” (Newsweek, April 20, 1992).  Does that explain Plato, Saint Paul, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, and Einstein?  This kind of crude mechanistic...

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