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  • Languages Contribute to Cultural Unity

    pen with Chinese writings
    Languages Contribute to Cultural Unity

    I mention this little story because it carries a valuable message for many of us today.  The knowledge of a second or third language provides the owner with skills and benefits not available to those who are limited to their mother tongue.  Despite the availability of language education, many young people do not appreciate the tremendous value of being able to communicate or even work in a language other than that of their birth.

    Many years ago I published a research paper in which not only were the obvious benefits to career potential for a multilingual person mentioned, but also revealed was a number of other advantages. These included an improvement to one’s intellectual potential, as when learning a new language the brain actually grows additional neuropathways, enhancing how the brain can reason. In addition, measured against control groups, the multilingual student performed better than students who knew only one language in mathematics, the sciences and even in their first language.  More recent research has demonstrated that being multilingual can reduce the risk of becoming afflicted with dementia.

    Even beyond the benefits to the physical brain, being multilingual provides another important contribution. This is in the area of cultural understanding. The great Polish pianist of the last century, Jan Pederewski, refused to include music from Spain in his repertoire until he had travelled to Spain and learned the Spanish language and its culture. Only then did he feel that he could properly interpret the intent of the Spanish composers.  He became familiar with their way of life, their way of thinking and grew to understand and respect their culture.

    In many ways Hong Kong is well suited to take advantage of the benefits of being multilingual.

    Due to past history there is a strong legacy of English language usage and opportunities for learning English. As well, most people are born in families with Cantonese as a first language, and now due to the present relationship with the mainland, there is growing opportunity to learn Mandarin. The benefits to the youth of Hong Kong are immense, given Hong Kong is now well placed to be a cultural bridge, with all of the scholastic, cultural and financial possibilities that brings. Hong Kong is also in a good position to bring into its schools educators who can teach a second language which is their own mother tongue – always an advantage to the learner.

    It cannot be overstressed however that one of the greatest benefits is the respect for the cultures represented by language. I myself have had opportunity to visit and work in China on twenty-five occasions. These trips and the study of the culture, ancient and modern, changed my viewpoint, and hopefully helped me appreciate and respect the issues citizens and leaders face and appreciate the efforts made to address local challenges.

    Learning to communicate through language and cultural understanding helps us see the humanity in each other, regardless of ethnic, linguistic, cultural or national divides.

    This ability was present in a man used to write many books of the Bible, a man we know today as Paul. He had great standing among both the people and many of the rulers of the day. One of Paul’s advantages was that he spoke several languages, including at least Hebrew, Greek and Latin. His father had provided him with a very good education. He also understood the cultures and thus was able to present his message in a manner which could best be comprehended.  His appreciation of people of other cultures had helped him to see that all humanity should be treated with respect, and that mankind should ideally live with harmony between the nations.  He wrote instructions to a young minister named Titus in how to instruct the members of the congregations:

    “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.” (Titus 3:1-2)

    Sometimes cultural and language barriers create walls between peoples, walls of distrust, hatred and misunderstanding. Thus Paul also wrote to a church in the Greek city of Philippi: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”  (Philippians 2:3)  This was to be the attitude of the ruled and the ruler.  Such a condition would ensure a kind, prosperous and peaceful society.

    Learning is very important, and parents need to encourage their children to become knowledgeable in many things, especially to become proficient in a language other than one’s mother tongue. This enriches the mind, and opens the door to communication, understanding and opportunity, but also creates in us a respect for those of other cultures and willingness to work with all peoples.

    Universal peace will yet come to this earth, and the harmony that so many seek today will eventually become a reality.

  • How to Lead a Young Generation?

    man in position of leadership
    How to Lead a Young Generation

    The new generation that is just now entering the work force may find the nature of life forty or so years ago hard to imagine.  We are dealing with the pressure of work as never before. Recently the South China Morning Post (March 10, 2018) presented an article on the matter of the long working hours experienced by many Hong Kong workers. The article reported that some are working up to 75 hours per week.  This impedes a positive family life, contributes to health issues among the work force, and is a significant source of stress in workers.

    In all of this there are also changes in the concept of morality, often driven by western-oriented media, but there is another aspect of modern life we need to be aware of, and which many will have to find a way to address: how the new work generation relates to leadership.

    While certainly this is not an issue for all of this new generation, it is however a clear trend witnessed by many employers.  The “millennial” generation tends to value individualism, while relying on someone to organize things for them and provide explicit instructions.  Many are from a one-child family, who have been looked after and have had all decisions made for them.  There is a tendency not to accept the authority of another who is in a position over them and yet desire direction and nurturing. One can add that it is a generation addicted to the internet.

    So the question becomes: To what kind of leadership do Millennials best respond?

    Research has shown that many in this age category want to be able to ask questions, sometimes hard questions, what we might call disagreements, and leaders need to provide answers for them. They will respect a well-prepared, polite response, which deals specifically with the issue and does not attack them for their impertinence in asking, but treats their concerns as sincere and deserving of a reply. This will go a long way with this group, as it will build their trust.

    Strong, polite leadership, which can provide explanations for instructions, will also develop a sense of loyalty, that some have not developed in the cultural milieu of the modern world. The type of leadership we must provide to be successful in this age, is that which encourages, teaches and develops. Loyalty must be built through the building of trust and confidence and through the example of hard work from the leader.

    Gone are the days when we faced a population accustomed to accepting authority, or accepting an idea because someone in authority said it. Today, in companies or organizations, if people get offended they leave. They walk out of marriages, or don’t get married so they will have no commitment. That is the mood of society. We are all potentially affected by this mood to some extent.

    Successful leaders today are those who can be classified as knowledgeable, firm, fair and supportive. Interestingly, a study recently reported to the board of one of Canada’s largest school systems the results of a large survey indicating that hundreds of younger employees felt they were not supported by leaders.  At the same time older workers were quite content. This clearly showed there was a difference in expectation between the two groups.

    Those Millennials who identified with and liked a leader were looking for someone who would seek some input on a situation before issuing an order.  Not that employee input was necessarily followed, but at least it had been heard. They found a supportive leader was accessible, was a source of encouragement, and built confidence in the new employee. He was also defined as someone who was consistent and reliable, and was an example of the hard work he requested of others.

    The supportive leader fostered a high level of trust, and lower worker absenteeism.  There was also higher staff retention and more willingness to put in extra time and effort on the job.

    Leadership is powerful, and a good leader will bring out the best in those under his authority. He will be a person who is a good example of what those under him should be. He will be a positive person. He will be consistent and polite, and be open at least to listen to and sometimes welcome new ideas.

    Long ago Confucius was asked by a scholar: “How do you make people reverent, loyal and mutually encouraging?” Confucius’ reply was very insightful. He stated: “If you preside over them with dignity, they will be reverent; if you are filial and loving (footnote: ‘I.e., filial to your parents and loving to your children.’), they will be loyal; if you promote the good and instruct the incapable, they will be mutually encouraging.” (Analects 2:20)

    The idea that Confucius expounded was underscored by an instruction on the characteristics of Godly rule by Jesus Christ, who taught his followers about real leadership thus:

    "And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave [servant], just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many”. (Matthew 20:27-28)" 

    In other words, the leader should serve the employees in such a way as to ensure they can be as productive as possible, while being an example of how they should be working. Rather than diminish his authority, this actually enhances authority, loyalty and productivity.

    Real leadership is one of ensuring those under the leader are treated kindly, fairly and respectfully.

  • To Ink or Not to Ink?

    tattooed man
    To Ink or Not to Ink?

    Gao Changli, the director of SAPPRFT’s publicity department outlined the following rules:

    “Absolutely do not use actors whose heart and morality are not aligned with the party and whose morality is not noble. Absolutely do not use actors who are tasteless, vulgar and obscene. Absolutely do not use actors whose ideological level is low and have no class. Absolutely do not use actors with stains, scandals and problematic moral integrity” (Source:

    More recently the Chinese Football association followed with a similar decision when they banned players from displaying tattoos on the pitch. Football stars are some of the most inked celebrities out there, only rare exceptions exist such as the Portuguese forward, Cristiano Ronaldo, who resists the trend because he doesn’t want to limit his ability to donate blood.

    China’s clamp down on tattoos and what it deems to be offensive or vulgar public displays is somewhat unique; at a time when media in western nations have been promoting alternative culture for decades. Western shows such as Ink Master along with Kat Von D’s Miami Ink and L.A. Ink are prime time television programs that turn tattoo parlours into ‘Reality TV’. Subsequently the statistics for tattoos have increased globally. In North America two out of ten have at least one tattoo. What is not spoken about too often is the follow up statistic, that a significant percentage regrets this decision. (

    In Hong Kong, tattooing was once seen as the marking for criminals and violent street gangs but today it has become part of popular culture, even your grandmother can have one.

    What drives people to make the decision to mark their body? For many it may have simply been a drunken night or peer pressure from friends but at the heart of tattooing is vanity. The prerequisite is that you have to spend an inordinate amount of time admiring yourself or the image you are trying to portray. The Chinese government knows this and recognises that tattoos and an unbalanced focus on the ‘self’ are at odds with a moral society. When we begin putting ourselves above the well-being of those around us, then society begins to suffer as a whole. Tattoos are only the first step towards a vain self-interest. Regardless of the associated risks from poor hygiene, blood transmitted diseases or likely regrets on your choice of markings, tattoos promote an unhealthy culture not too dissimilar to undergoing surgical enhancements.

    There are numerous negative physical side effects to tattoos but the most disconcerting aspect is the psychological condition of those who tattoo themselves. We should be balanced in the way we conduct ourselves, by all means take care of our bodies through healthy choices of food and exercise but avoid the psychologically damaging effects of admiring your body to the point of tattoo ink.

  • A Grain of Sand: What We Can Learn from It?

    A Grain of Sand: What We Can Learn from It?

    We can ask the question, where do these grains come from and can they be useful?

    A long time ago, they may have been part of a large quartz rock or volcanic material that was broken down by the powerful forces of weather or action of natural events. These forces are continually occurring around us each day.

    Mankind has found many practical uses for different types of sand, such as in the manufacture of concrete for building materials, manufacture of glass and even for advanced technology where they have been used for active materials in concentrated solar power and high temperature thermal energy storage.

    When scientists recently had a closer look at a typical grain of sand, they discovered some surprising characteristics.

    Just like there are no two people on this earth who are identical in every way, there are no two grains of sand that are identical, to the finest detail, even though there are vast supplies of sand in deserts and on the sea shores around the world.

    The National Physics Laboratory in England has found some even more surprising characteristics in their studies. They calculated the total amount of energy locked up inside a typical single grain of sand, at the atomic level. They wrote, if all of this energy could be effectively released, “There is enough energy locked up in a grain of sand to boil 10,000,000 kettles” of water. Other independent scientists have arrived at similar conclusions. This is an enormous amount of energy.

    This means, in order to create one grain of sand at a basic atomic level, at least the same amount of energy would be required. From this study we realise that all physical matter, small and large, contains huge amounts of locked up energy.

    Now when we consider how many grains of sand and physical matter make up the planet we live on, our minds cannot grasp the enormity of the energy required to create it all.

    Perhaps one day, mankind may find a way of easily extracting this energy. If they could, then the energy needs of every nation could be fully satisfied.

    Now let’s look at what a typical single grain of sand can hide.

    Between 2003 and 2012 the Hubble space telescope was used to study a small portion of the night sky, equivalent to the area covered by a single grain of sand held at arm’s length, and deep field photographs were taken, spanning many days. The results were staggering. Scientists were surprised to discover 50,000 to 100,000 galaxies spread far out in the universe, just in that small area of the sky.

    Just one galaxy can contain millions of stars and planets.

    Scientists at National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently estimated that there could be 100 billion galaxies in the known universe, and as new telescopes are brought into action, possibly many times more than that number will be found. Our human mind cannot begin to grasp how much physical matter is contained in the physical universe and on top of that, how much energy was used to create all of it.

    Where did all this physical matter come from? Scientists have many theories. One of them is the Big Bang theory, which states that all galaxies and material in the whole universe began with a big bang approximately 13 billion of years ago.

    But where did all that energy come from, to start the big bang? Scientists are perplexed and cannot give a satisfactory answer.

    Now there is one source which provides definitive answers to this perplexing question. It can be found in the pages of a book which was written many thousands of years ago. The first verse of the Bible says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis1:1) Here God is defined as the creator of the entire universe and the earth.

    The Creator God describes Himself in many verses of the Bible. Here is one example: “To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to Him? Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.” (Isaiah 40:18 to 22).

    God also explains that He is the One who began all things. His life span has neither beginning nor end of days. He has the power to create and set into motion all the powerful forces of nature. Many thousands of years ago, He revealed to mankind where all the complexity of life we see around us, the energy and physical matter, all originated. No scientist can answer those questions but they can be found in the pages of the Bible.

  • How a Christian Should Respond to Government?

    government building
    How a Christian Should Respond to Government?

    During this period, from the town of Qufu, in the state of Lu (now Shandong), a government official named Confucius became well known for his views on social order. Becoming disenchanted with the government of Lu, he resigned and devoted his life to the development of a philosophic system that would show how a “true gentleman” should conduct himself, and how one in the position of governance should rule. At one point Confucius makes a statement to those who would find themselves in positions of authority: Consideration for others is the basis of a good life, a good society.

    The intention was to instruct those in governance to rule for the purpose of providing what is in the long-term best interests of the ruled, and not for the enhancement of power or wealth among themselves.

    If a government does what it feels is in the best interest of its people, how should people react if they disagree with the approach of those in power?  This is a serious question. There are many possible answers to this question. Some would say demonstrate, protest and refuse to obey. But what should be the approach of one who claims to be a Christian?

    Thousands of kilometres west of China, in the land of ancient Israel, another set of writings were still being developed at the time Confucius was formulating his ideas. These writings were compiled over a period of 1500 years, and today are known as the Bible. They were finished at a time when the Jewish nation was dealing with a loss of sovereignty to Roman authority. Thus between AD 31 to AD 95 there were many questions asked by Jews who had accepted the Christian faith about how God would have them deal with the situation. Should they protest? Should they revolt? There were many in their society encouraging them to do so, as Roman rule was applied more thoroughly. The early leaders of the faith, who had been taught by Christ personally, provided the answer. It may not have been the answer the people wanted to hear, but it was the answer that if followed would lead to the best long-term result.

    The Apostle Peter gives this instruction:

    Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as Bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king (1 Peter 2:13-17).

    The Apostle Paul, whom God used to carry His message to non-Jews makes this statement:

    Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

    From the Bible it is very clear that a follower of God will not be involved in protests or stand in opposition to government, but put issues before God in prayer, that He may guide the affairs of those who are in positions of authority to rule for the benefit of all.  We are to pray that rulers will be given wisdom to allow us to live a peaceful and prosperous life.  It is our personal responsibility to be hard-working, productive and law-abiding citizens, which if we do, we will grow in favour with God and man.

    This is how a true Christian responds to government.

  • Mystery of the Mind

    brain representing the mind
    Mystery of the Mind

    Is the human mind the ultimate unexplored frontier?

    The human race has explored mysteries in seemingly every corner of creation! Men and women with courage to match their curiosity have ventured to the highest mountains and the deepest caves. When we cannot go there ourselves, we send machines to explore for us: plunging robotic submersibles to scour the depths of the ocean and hurtling complex probes to the very edges of our solar system and beyond.

    Yet, even as human beings apply their marvelous minds to the understanding of the unknowns before us, one area remains, perhaps, the greatest mystery of all: the human mind, itself!

    In many ways, science in recent years has come to understand more about the physical brain than ever before. Parts of the brain related to reason, thought and emotion—even to moral judgment—are beginning to yield some of their secrets.

    But as more is learned about the human brain, the human mind seems ever more mysterious! Some of the scientific findings concerning the brain and the mind seem contradictory—pointing to a marvelously complex physical structure, but also to something that extends beyond the physical: beyond our ability to measure, weigh or count.

    What is it about the human mind that makes us so remarkably different than the animals around us—capable of so much more? What is the answer to the mystery of the mind?

    Powerful Differences

    Like many other creatures on planet Earth, human beings have a brain—an intricate, physical organ devoted to controlling the various systems of the body and playing a central role in directing its behavior. Because human beings share this trait with many other animals, a common assumption is that the human being is just a “slightly more advanced” animal—one whose brain is a small-but-significant step above fellow creatures such as the chimpanzee or the dolphin.

    Yet, when we compare the awesome mind-power of human beings with the relatively meager capabilities found throughout the animal kingdom, the difference is startling! Yes, we find animals such as chimpanzees stripping leaves from twigs to craft “tools,” and we may marvel at how Koko the gorilla was taught to communicate through simple sign language. But have we ever seen a group of orangutans team up to build a space shuttle? Have we witnessed a dolphin designing a stunning work of architecture? Has a parrot composed a passionate sonnet that stirs the soul?

    Despite having a brain very similar physically to some other mammals, human beings have scaled amazing heights and achieved astonishing feats of vision, planning, creativity and imagination. No other species has ever come close! So, what makes the difference?

    For many decades, scientists have poked, prodded and probed the brain, hoping to find clues to the mystery of how our brains make us who we are. In doing so, they have uncovered surprising facts that may pose a challenge to many people’s religious and philosophical understandings.

    The Very Physical Brain

    Science has demonstrated that there is a very physical component to our minds—to our personality and our intellect. Who we are as individuals is very dependent on the physical condition, health, and structure of our brains, and altering that structure can bring fundamental changes in core aspects of our personality and even our values.

    Consider, for example, morality. Many would say that the ability to make moral choices, judging between right and wrong, is one of the defining elements of individual identity. Yet, simply by applying magnetic pulses to a part of the brain just above and behind the right ear, scientists have been able to alter people’s ability to make accurate moral judgments (“Magnets Can Alter Moral Judgment by Changing Brain Activity,” Medical News Today, April 1, 2010).

    In fact, researchers have known for some time that physical alteration of the brain can cause changes in how we think and act, and even in our basic personality. Consider the case of railway worker Phineas Gage, who in the mid-1800s experienced a traumatic brain injury when an explosion propelled a 13-pound iron bar through his skull. Though the projectile tore out a portion of his brain, he not only survived—he recovered! Yet many friends and acquaintances testified that the Phineas Gage they had known was, in the words of his doctor, “no longer Gage”—that his personality and character was completely and radically altered (“Recovery from the passage of an iron bar through the head,” Dr. John Harlow, Publ. of the Massachusetts Medical Society, 1868).

    Though Gage is one of the most famous cases, it seems he has a lot of company! Researchers have noted that profound brain injuries are frequently accompanied by dramatic changes in personality, such as increases in impulsive and aggressive behavior, and the loss of previous inhibitions (“Agitation, aggression, and disinhibition syndromes after traumatic brain injury,”NeuroRehabilitation. 2002;17(4):297–310).

    Such findings seem to show clearly that much of who we are—our personality, our ability to make moral choices and judgments—is profoundly dependent on our physical brain. So, is the human brain all there is to the human mind?

    Many scientists answer, “Yes!” Most researchers in the field of neuroscience conclude that our entire individual identity—our likes and dislikes, our values, our personality—is completely dependent on physical combinations of molecules and electrical impulses in our brain. For them, there is no mystery of the mind, because they have concluded: there is no mind! In their view, human thought, consciousness, moral judgment, free will—everything we call the “mind”—is an illusion, perpetuated by a physical brain acting mindlessly (quite literally) according to the laws of chemistry and physics, and the chance combinations of chemicals in our brain matter. As Jeffrey M. Schwartz, research professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles, has written, “It is not merely that the will is not free, in the modern scientific view, not merely that it is constrained, a captive of material forces. It is, more radically, that the will, a manifestation of mind, does not even exist, because a mind independent of brain does not exist” (The Mind and the Brain, p. 8). This idea—that there is no “mind,” no “free will,” and nothing truly “spiritual” about human existence—is called materialism, and it is the reigning idea in research today.

    More to “Mind” than “Brain”

    The materialism of modern science, however, is increasingly being challenged by further findings that seem to demonstrate that the human mind is very real, and is somehow much more than can be explained by a physical brain alone. Consider the much-debated work of British neurologist John Lorber of Sheffield University, who has studied hydrocephalus—a condition in which much of the brain is missing and the skull is filled, instead, with fluid. Left untreated in early childhood development, individuals with hydrocephalus often face severe retardation and early death.

    Lorber’s research has taken many by surprise, as he has studied startling cases of people who have led otherwise normal lives despite having almost no brain at all. One of the most celebrated cases involved a “socially completely normal” college student with an IQ of 126 who had earned a first-class honors degree in mathematics. Yet scans of this amazing young man’s skull indicated that he had virtually no brain. His cranium was almost completely filled with cerebrospinal fluid, leaving only a thin film of brain matter “measuring a millimeter or so” (“Is Your Brain Really Necessary?,” Science, 12 December 1980, pp. 1232–4).

    If the human mind is nothing more than the human brain, how are such cases explained?

    Additionally, scientific research is beginning to demonstrate more clearly than ever that the human mind and free will are not mere illusions generated by the physical brain. Writing in the Wall Street Journal (“How Thinking Can Change the Brain,” Jan. 19, 2007), author Sharon Begley describes neurological studies that were performed at the University of Wisconsin. Their work indicated that, over time, the structure of the brain can be changed merely by the act of thinking!

    The standard materialist world view makes the claim that this is impossible, because “mind” is supposed to be merely the effect, and physical brain the cause. But studies are demonstrating that the reverse can also be the case. Far from the brain creating the mind, scientists are discovering that mind can change the brain—it is a “two-way street!”

    So, what exactly is going on here? Are all these different scientists reaching incompatible conclusions? What is the relationship between mind and brain? It may surprise many modern readers to learn that the missing dimension in this discussion can be found in an ancient source of knowledge: the Bible! God’s word reveals the truth about the mystery of human mind—a truth that agrees with the findings of science, rightly understood, and points us to deeper, awe-inspiring truth that science alone could never discover!

    Mankind: Something More

    In the book of Genesis, God reveals that He made human beings out of the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7). Like the other living beings in our world, mankind is a part of God’s creation. Unlike God and His angels in the spirit realm, human beings are physical beings, subject to death (Genesis 2:17; 3:19).

    Human beings see the world through physical eyes that collect physical light and focus it onto physical retinas in our two eyes. Electrical signals then migrate to the brain, where they register that something has been seen. Similarly, as human beings, we hear the world through physical ears, feel it through physical touch, and smell it through a physical nose. The brain collects, channels, processes and manages all this incoming sensory information.

    The mind, however, involves much more than the collection of physical data! Left with nothing more than a physical brain, human beings would be no different than the animals—responding to stimuli, taking care of physical needs and processing at the most mundane of levels.

    But God intends much more for mankind than life at “mundane levels.” When He describes the creation of the animals, he says that He “made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind” (Genesis 1:25).

    So, are human beings merely a “human kind”? No! When it comes to the creation of mankind, God tells a very different story! “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26–27).

    Unlike the animals—each made after its own animal kind—the Bible boldly declares that human beings are made after the God kind! From the beginning, God intended human beings to be like Himself! When His entire, wondrous plan is fully understood, we see that God has created human beings for the purpose of growing in His holy and righteous character, until they not only resemble God on the outside, but also radiate His character from the inside! God’s plan is to transform human beings from their physical, mortal existence into an eternal spiritual existence (1 Corinthians 15:50–55)! To learn more about God’s awesome purpose for you and me, please read our inspiring booklet, Your Ultimate Destiny.

    As part of His plan for humanity, God has added an extra element to human existence, which works with human brain to make men and women so much more than the animals they would otherwise be. This element is called “the spirit in man.” Combined with the physical brain, this imparts to human beings a powerful mind, allowing accomplishments far beyond the simple instincts of even the brightest dolphins or chimpanzees.

    We read about this spirit in Scripture. As Elihu tells the patriarch Job, “there is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding” (Job 32:8). Indeed, it is the spirit in man that gives him knowledge and comprehension: “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?” (1 Corinthians 2:11). This is not an immortal soul; it is an essential God-given element of the mortal human mind, making men and women who and what they are!

    Key to the Resurrection!

    Scripture explains that when human beings die, it is this human spirit—not an immortal soul, but rather the God-given element of our human identity—that God recovers. We read: “Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). At death, our physical bodies return to the earth from whence they came, but our “identity”—the “spirit in man” that contains the record of our character and experience—goes to God in preparation for the resurrection.

    Is the “spirit in man” conscious after we die? No! Scripture plainly reveals that when human beings die, we are not conscious again until the resurrection from the dead (Ecclesiastes 3:18–21; 9:5). We read of those who “sleep in Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 4:14). Again and again, Scripture describes death not as a disembodied conscious state, but rather as a “sleep” without awareness (John 11:11; 1 Corinthians 11:30).

    Every human being receives the “spirit in man” as part of God’s act of creation. However, for those who become Christians, an even more important Spirit is added to the equation. After repentance and baptism, Christians receive the Holy Spirit. Just as the “spirit in man” gives human beings a “mind-power” unknown to other animals, the Holy Spirit gives Christians a spiritual power unknown to other human beings.

    The Holy Spirit, working with the human mind in the physical body, gives each Christian the ability to prepare to be born into eternal life as a member of the Family of God, at the resurrection of the dead.

    When we come to understand all this, the mystery of the human mind becomes clear. The mind is not simply an “emergent property” of a physical brain, with free will and thought only an illusion caused by the collisions and combinations of mindless molecules and electrons. Nor is the mind an immortal and purely immaterial component. The human mind is the result of two necessary components: the physical human brain and the human spirit, imparted directly by God! This is the solution to the mystery of the mind! It is the product of the divinely crafted combination of brain plus spirit.

    It explains why our marvelous minds are so dependent on the condition of our physical brains, yet also why our physical brains simply are not enough to produce the wondrous human mind!

    This is why the animal world—while it can certainly amaze us—is still light years behind humanity in the realms of creativity and communication, and in capacity for reason and imagination. Unlike even the most remarkable of the animals, God designed human beings for a cosmic purpose!

    Together, the physical brain and the spirit of man bestowed by God, combine to create the awesome human mind. And it is this mind, yielding to the instruction and care of a loving God, that has the power to come to know, imitate, and one day experience the presence and spiritual reality of its Creator. As is so often the case, God’s word shines its light upon mysteries that science alone simply cannot explain!