Using our Brains in a World of Information and Technology

There is some truth to the saying, “use it or lose it.”  Mostly, I’ve thought of this in terms of skills and muscles, but it also applies to our brains.  The brain is much like our muscles, the more we use it, the stronger and more capable it becomes.

I was recently asked by someone that hasn’t lived without the internet, if I thought it was overall good or a detriment to our lives.  In the moment, I provided some observations of things that I feel the internet has provided and things that we are missing because of the prevalence of technology in our lives.  With additional time to process the question, I can identify many things that we are lacking because of our dependence upon technology.

Thinking required

The biggest negative I have seen with technology is that we tend to stop thinking for ourselves.  We have volumes of information, the ability to do so much more, and we allow the technology to do our thinking.  There’s a pandemic of lack of thought.

With the availability of calculators, it was no longer necessary to learn how to do even simple math in our heads.  Ever had an experience with a cashier who couldn’t figure out how much change to give back without the computer telling them?

As we have become dependent upon GPS units and now maps on our phones, we no longer seem to know how to read a map or follow directions.  This can be a real problem in rural areas like where we live, as the GPS map may not actually direct us where we want to go.  For example, if you put in the address for Legacy Heights, you will get close, but be about a half mile away from the driveway.

Brain exercise

The more we exercise our brains, the stronger they become.  This requires that we are constantly learning new information and that we are processing the information, not just absorbing it.  

If I push a weight on a cart across the floor, I’ve moved the weight and maybe used a few muscles.  If instead, I pick up the weight and carry it to the new location, I have used more muscles.  As we use our brains to wrestle with thoughts and ideas, we are building the muscles of thought.  

There are many things that seem reasonable, until we think deeply about it.  The surface can be deceiving.  We need to be willing to wrestle with the concepts and draw meaningful conclusions, even when they are contrary to our desired outcome.  The truth is not dependent upon our whims and wishes.

This applies not only to  what we read and hear on the internet, it applies to what we hear from the pulpit.  I’ll admit that there are times when I’m preaching that my mouth doesn’t say what my brain is thinking, therefore, I have learned to give grace for the occasional misstatement.  Unfortunately, there are many things being purposely taught in the name of God that are contrary to His Truth.  We need to take all teaching to the Holy Spirit and the Holy Bible to determine what is beneficial to be ingested and what is fat or bone to be discarded.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:16-17

History is important

With all of the new information that we have available to read, I see many failing to learn from the past.  When was the last time that you read something written more than 50 years ago?  There is so much that we can learn from those who have lived before us.  Just because we have more information does not mean that we have more wisdom.

The nature of man hasn’t really changed over the centuries and millennia.  When I read books written many years ago, there are commonalities that I see in our world today.  There are also many lessons for us to learn of things that are good and things not to repeat.

There’s another saying, “Those who ignore history are bound to repeat it.”  I’d add that those who distort history are deceived in thinking they can avoid it.  We need to understand the reality of the past, no matter how ugly, in order to learn how to live the present better.

A measuring rod

With the flood of information, we have to be able to decipher what is fact and what is opinion.  Back in the 1980s, situational ethics popped up in the schools.  I believe that this has contributed to the collapse in our nation’s moral compass.  We need to have a fixed standard against which to measure things.  For me the Word of God (The Holy Bible) is my measuring stick for what is right and wrong.  

Regardless of the situation, there is truth; unchanging, independent of opinion, real truth.  The sun does not rise and go down based on our wishes.  It is a fixed truth that only God, the Creator, can change.  I can call myself whatever gender I choose, but the truth is that I have body parts specific to the male gender.  I can call good evil, and evil good but it is still either good or evil when measured against the Truth.

We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.  1 John 4:6

Feed your brain

One final saying important in our discussion of the brain is: “Garbage in, garbage out.”  What we put into our brain is of utmost importance if we want it to be healthy and produce positive outflows.

Chemicals that we physically ingest have an impact on our brain’s ability to process information.  A steady stream of junk food will negatively impact our brain.  I’m no expert in dietary anything, but I know from experience that my ability to think varies based on the quality of the food I eat.

The things that we read, watch, and listen to also impact our brain and especially affect our behaviors.  A steady diet of shows that contain profanity will lead to the speaking of profane things.  Constantly viewing negative concepts will lead to a negative thought pattern that flows out in all areas of our life.  Music has a powerful effect on our thoughts and emotions, for either good or bad.

While it is impossible to avoid all bad things, we need to be purposeful in what we put into our brains.  We need to think about what we hear, not just accept everything at face value.  God’s standards do not change, so we can stand firm on His Truth, regardless of what the world is choosing to believe.  With the help of the Holy Spirit we are able to align our thoughts with the Truth in Christ.

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:31-32

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