Sermon quotes on the brain

Diane Ackerman

Shaped a little like a loaf of French country bread, our brain is a crowded chemistry lab, bustling with nonstop neural conversations….Imagine the brain, that shiny mound of being, that mouse-gray parliament of cells, that dream factory, that petit tyrant inside a ball of bone, that huddle of neurons calling all the plays, that little everywhere, that fickle pleasure dome, that wrinkled wardrobe of selves stuffed into the skull like too many clothes into a gym bag.

An Alchemy of Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain, Scribner, 2005.

William F. Allman

The brain is a monstrous, beautiful mess. Its billions of nerve cells – called neurons – lie in a tangled web that displays cognitive powers far exceeding any of the silicon machines we have built to mimic it.

Apprentices of Wonder. Inside the Neural Network Revolution, Bantam, 1989.

Susan Allport

Most of us have spent some time wondering how our brain works. Brain scientists spend their entire lives pondering it, looking for a way to begin asking the question, How does the brain generate mind? The brain, after all, is so complex an organ and can be approached from so many different directions using so many different techniques and experimental animals that studying it is a little like entering a blizzard, the Casbah, a dense forest. It’s easy enough to find a way in – an interesting phenomenon to study – but also very easy to get lost.

Explorers of the Black Box: The Search for the Cellular Basis of Memory, 1986.

Amy Farrah Fowler (Played by Mayim Bialik)

I study the brain, the organ responsible for Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. Bernadette studies yeast, the organism responsible for Michelob Light.

The Big Bang Theory TV show

David Bainbridge

The modern geography of the brain has a deliciously antiquated feel to it — rather like a medieval map with the known world encircled by terra incognito where monsters roam.

The Strange Anatomy of the Brain, New Scientist, January 26, 2008.

R.J.A. Berry

An intimate acquaintance with some of the structural features of the human brain is thus seen to be not only necessary to the physician, but also to the psychologist, the educationalist, and the social worker.

Brain and Mind or The Nervous System of Man, 1928.

Tim Birkhead

Although we tend to think of the brain as a discrete organ – a lump of squidgy tissue – it is better to think of it as part of an elaborate network of nervous tissue that reaches out to every single part of the body.

Bird Sense: What It’s Like to Be a Bird, Bloomsbury, 2012.

Keith Black

If you look at the anatomy, the structure, the function, there’s nothing in the universe that’s more beautiful, that’s more complex, than the human brain.

Taken from Discover magazine, April, 2004.

Susan Blakemore

In proportion to our body mass, our brain is three times as large as that of our nearest relatives. This huge organ is dangerous and painful to give birth to, expensive to build and, in a resting human, uses about 20 per cent of the body’s energy even though it is just 2 per cent of the body’s weight. There must be some reason for all this evolutionary expense.

Talemfrom “Meme, Myself, I”, New Scientist, March 13, 1999.

Floyd E. Bloom

As we begin the 21st century, the Hubble space telescope is providing us with information about as yet uncharted regions of the universe and the promise that we may learn something about the origin of the cosmos. This same spirit of adventure is also being directed to the most complex structure that exists in the universe – the human brain.

Quoted in Fundamental Neuroscience edited by L.R. Squire et al., 2003.

Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio)

Once an idea has taken hold of the brain, it’s almost impossible to eradicate.

Movie Inception, 2010.

Gene D. Cohen

A great deal of scientific work has also confirmed the “use it or lose it” adage: the mind grows stronger from use and from being challenged in the same way that muscles grow stronger from exercise.

The Mature Mind: The Positive Power of the Aging Brain (Cambridge, MA: Basic Books, 2005), xv.

George Costanza (Jason Alexander)

Because important things go in a case. You got a skull for your brain, a plastic sleeve for your comb, and a wallet for your money.

Seinfeld, “The Reverse Peephole,” 1998.

Arthur Conan Doyle

I am a brain, Watson. The rest of me is a mere appendix.

Sherlock Holmes in The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone, 1921.

Arthur Conan Doyle

A man with so large a brain must have something in it.

Sherlock Holmes, in The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle, 1948.

William Feindel

Made up of a dozen billion microscopic nerve-cell units interconnected by millions upon millions of conducting nerve-threads weaving incredibly intricate patterns, the brain, as an object of research, presents a defiant challenge to its own ingenuity.

Taken from Wilder Penfield, The Mystery of the Mind , Princeton University Press, 1975.

Gerald D. Fischbach

The brain immediately confronts us with its great complexity. The human brain weighs only three to four pounds but contains about 100 billion neurons. Although that extraordinary number is of the same order of magnitude as the number of stars in the Milky Way, it cannot account for the complexity of the brain. The liver probably contains 100 million cells, but 1,000 livers do not add up to a rich inner life.

Taken from Scientific American, September, 1992.

Robert Frost

The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts working the moment you get up and does not stop until you get into the office.

Timothy R. Jennings

The human brain is truly the most sophisticated, elegant, biological piece of machinery ever known.

Taken from The God-Shaped Brain by Timothy R. Jennings. ©2017 by Timothy R. Jennings.  Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove  IL  60515-1426. www.ivpress.com

Gary Larson (Some dinosaurs talking in “The Far Side”)

The picture’s pretty bleak, gentlemen… The world’s climates are changing, the mammals are taking over, and we all have a brain about the size of a walnut.

The Far Side

Feggy Ostrosky-Solís, Miguel Arellano García, and Martha Pérez

Learning how to read, has been shown to powerfully shape adult neuropsychological systems. Brain scans have also revealed that people whose written language uses logographic symbols, like the Chinese, develop a mental circuitry for reading that is considerably different from the circuitry found in people whose written language employs a phonetic alphabet.

“Can Learning to Read and Write Change the Brain Organization? An Electrophysio-logical Study,” International Journal of Psychology, 39, no. 1 (2004): 27–35.

Hayley Morgan

Why can’t our brains take something we intellectually know, something that seems easy, and process it into something we just get with our whole selves.

Preach to Yourself, Zondervan, 2018, p. 27.

Erin M. Straza

Our brains need to engage and make decisions again, instead of floating along the paths of least resistance.

Comfort Detox: Finding Freedom From Habits That Bind You, InterVarsity Press.

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