When Do We Stop Learning

Can We Fill Our Brain?

NeuronsI woke this morning thinking about all the new stuff showing up on my plate and wondering what it would take to absorb it completely.

Is there room in my brain for all this stuff?

Then I thought: Will my brain ever fill up? Does this mean there comes a time when we no longer learn? What will it be like when I stop learning? Do I want to stop learning? (Think of a stagnant pond for the answer!)

Wouldn’t that be a boring time!

A little personal research shows me there will probably never be a time that I will stop learning, unless I chose to stop picking up new things to put on my plate.

So. What happens to all those things that I do learn.

The human brain consists of about one billion neurons. Each neuron forms about 1,000 connections to other neurons, amounting to more than a trillion connections. If each neuron could only help store a single memory, running out of space would be a problem. You might have only a few gigabytes of storage space, similar to the space in an iPod or a USB flash drive. Yet neurons combine so that each one helps with many memories at a time, exponentially increasing the brain’s memory storage capacity to something closer to around 2.5 petabytes (or a million gigabytes). For comparison, if your brain worked like a digital video recorder in a television, 2.5 petabytes would be enough to hold three million hours of TV shows. You would have to leave the TV running continuously for more than 300 years to use up all that storage. (Click here for source)

2016-06-28 08.13.563. Million. Hours. Of. TV… 300 years of TV? Whoa… What does that actually represent? How could we ever use up all that storage?

That means that I could never hope to use up my brain capacity!

Being a bibliophile (a person who collects or has a great love of books), I am not surprised that I was pleased to get a new dictionary from some friends on their recent trip overseas. 1706 pages of the Tenth Edition, completely revised, Concise Oxford Dictionary.

I will have to put this to use!

But for a moment, consider that there is much we do not need to know. We search for answers only to find useless information to occupy our thoughts and energy. Rabbit trails of research seldom satisfy the immediate need for data, but it is often enjoyable to find new things. Back in the early days of the World Wide Web we called it “surfing the web”. The excitement of a new tool eventually wore off, only to be replaced by social media. It seems we are ever searching for something new but never becoming satisfied with the answers.

Imagine for a moment all the things that earlier civilizations did not know. Things we take for granted. Math. Sciences. Medicine. Health. Wealth. We comprehend the earth and its continents, the solar system and the universe. The atoms. DNA. Things small, and things large. We peer into the closest and farthermost of our world.

Yet. We are never happy. We keep looking. Hoping for a better answer. Something new. And still never being satisfied.

For me, its always wanting to know what’s around the bend of the road. It’s difficult to stop. Retrace my steps. Return to something familiar, even if the path I’m on reaffirms some place I’ve already been.

  • That’s why I like to travel. I want to experience things and places that are not in my memory banks.
  • That’s why I like to read new books. I want to know more about subjects than what I’ve ever known.
  • That’s why I continue to research and look for things. It’s part and parcel of my DNA to want to know the next thing I do not know, or to affirm things I already know I know.

The Apostle Paul writes to Timothy something that teaches me that what I focus on learning, that new thing, should keep me coming to the conclusion of truth. Read the entire 3rd chapter of 2 Timothy to get his full message, but let me pull out a few points for you to consider.

1: But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: (2 Timothy 3:1-17 NKJV)
2: For men will be lovers of themselves
7always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
10-11: But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me.
14-17: But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

I wonder what “Holy Scriptures” Timothy had? The New Testament was not yet compiled, so, essentially a student of Paul would have only the Old Testament as his teacher. And in these available writings are the things that will make you “wise” for salvation…through faith…which is in Christ Jesus.

Paul sums us what all the scriptures prove in this little bit of space. It is the “inspiration” of God, and from it we are profited for doctrine, reproof  (censuring and rebuking), correction, instruction, and righteousness. Why? So we can be complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Notice the phrase dealing with profit. Scripture is profitable for doctrine.

What is Doctrine? Essentially, “a particular principle, position, or policy taught or advocated, as of religion or government” (Click Here for Source) For many of us it is the result of researched learning and presentation. When I learn scriptural doctrine, then I am applying knowledge to myself from another source. All those research papers I wrote were primarily regurgitation of others position on some subject. When I work on my doctorate then my research often broadens the depth and breadth of this “doctrine” and concludes potential new insights and positions to present and future researchers. Hopefully, shedding more light on the subject.

But is this needed? Perhaps. Is it a good exercise? For me, yes. I cannot answer for you. Perhaps you have already reached the saturation point of “knowing” – but I have not.

That’s why I read. Write. Study. And continually search for new things around me. My brain is not filled to capacity. Nor will it anytime soon!