THREE POUNDS OF LUMPY GRAY AMAZEMENT
So, what are we to make of the human brain? We generally associate complexity with intelligence. The more complex a building or machine, the more intelligence is required to engineer it. The human brain, for starters, contains 12 billion neuron cells intertwined with 100 trillion connections. To illustrate a number as large as 100 trillion, molecular biologist Michael Denton suggests visualizing a solid forest of trees covering half the United States. If each tree contains one hundred thousand leaves, the connections in a human brain would equal the total number of leaves in the entire forest.
Yet the brain’s connections are not mere intersections like those in a highway system, but rather are a highly organized network far exceeding the complexity of all the communication networks on planet Earth.19
Our memories (one billion trillion bits of them) are not isolated in one section of the brain but instead are intertwined throughout the network. “Each junction has the potential to be part of a memory. So the memory capacity of a human brain is effectively infinite.”20 Inside that three pounds of gray matter of yours is enough information to fill 20 million books (19 million if you aren’t that bright).
As we examine our universe, nothing else in it even remotely approaches the complexity of the human brain. Stephen Hawking compares the complexity of the human brain with most present-day computers and reveals the overwhelming superiority of our brains: “In comparison with most computers which have one central processing unit, the brain has millions of processing units … all working at the same time.”21
Even if communication engineers could apply the most sophisticated engineering techniques known to humanity, the assembly of an object remotely resembling the human brain would require an eternity of time. Even then, they still wouldn’t know where to begin.22 The overwhelming processing power takes place within an area of our brains called the cerebral cortex, and it is here where the human enigma is most apparent.
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