Does God Have Too Many Friends?

Friends affect our brains. Not just our thoughts, but our actual brains. There’s a correlation between the size of a person’s social network and the size of portions of that person’s brain. Live Science reported on a recent study about friendships and the brain:

Some brain areas were enlarged and  better connected in people with larger social networks. In humans, these  areas were the temporal parietal junction, the anterior cingulate cortex and the  rostral prefrontal cortex, which are part of a network involved in “mentalization” — the ability to attribute mental states, thoughts and  beliefs to another.

See, it’s just as I suspected: the temporary party junction and the anteater cigarette cortex and the roster of preferential Cortez all get bigger the more friends you have.

OK, maybe I don’t understand the science behind this, but I do understand that the research shows that it is the act of having a large social network that actually increases those portions of the brain.

So you might be thinking that the secret to a bigger brain is to have lots of friends. And just where would that leave us introverts anyway? Well, it’s not that simple. The skull is only so large and a brain can only achieve a finite size, according to researcher MaryAnn Noonan, a  neuroscientist at Oxford University.

The fact  that some brain regions may be larger and more connected suggests other regions  might be smaller in the brains of the more socially adept, Noonan said.

“If you’re spending a lot of time in social environments using social  skills and your brain’s changing, maybe you’re not learning to juggle in your  free time or becoming proficient at the piano,” she said. “The brain is just  changing and optimizing to reflect your needs, and if that is thriving within a  complex social environment, that is what your brain is reflecting.”

I’m going to take comfort in my relatively small social network. It means my brain is ready for me to learn to juggle. Won’t that come in handy around the courthouse.

God’s Brain

God doesn’t have a brain, of course, but he does have thoughts.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9.)

And as David expressed:

How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! (Psalm 139:17.)

God’s thoughts are vast in number and higher than any we could ever hope to have. And unlike the human brain that only has so much capacity for thinking about people, God’s capacity for thinking about people never fails.

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-10.)

He has gathered together more people than anyone could ever count, and yet he knows them each completely.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me … . My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:14, 27.)

It’s grace that God thinks about us at all, but he does:

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? (Psalm 8:3-4.)

God not only has thoughts for his people, but he also is able to think of all else he has created, the heavens, moon and stars.

He loves you, he loves to think about you, and he’ll never run out of thoughts for you.

I’m glad God has a bigger brain than I do.

***

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20 Responses to Does God Have Too Many Friends?

  1. Nice perspective, Tim. I’ve never thought about God’s “brain” before in this way. Isaiah 55:8 fits in well here, I figured you would be citing that verse. Also, I like the picture of the sheep staring directly into the camera 🙂

  2. Tim I take great comfort in this statement “I’m going to take comfort in my relatively small social network. It means my brain is ready for me to learn to juggle.” It means it really is OK that I’m just a simple country boy and definitely dumber than most.

    I take even greater thought in knowing that while Colossians 1:22 is true so is Psalm 8:3-4 and as a result there is now freedom to be found in those, thoughts, HIS actions and in HIS grace.

  3. Jeannie says:

    Thanks for another encouraging reminder of God’s amazing power and grace and love, Tim. I thought of that verse in Ephesians that says God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” It’s hard even to imagine how that’s possible!

    Yesterday in church we sang this song “Whom Shall I Fear,” and it has this line that always blows me away: “The One who reigns forever, He is a friend of mine.” That’s awesome.

  4. Erica M. says:

    A juggling judge? Sounds like a Monty Python skit to me…

    I really loved this part of my Psychology class. It also goes a long way in explaining how we form habits-our brain is literally changing itself to accommodate that habit.

    Thankfully, this also means that the more we spend time learning about and praising God, the more our brains change to be geared toward that. It brings to mind the verse “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”. 😀

    • Tim says:

      Great point, Erica. Our brains are designed to adapt, and God graciously allows us to adapt our brains to him. It’s like that renewing the mind thing Paul talked about.

  5. janehinrichs says:

    You don’t think God has a brain? I guess I never thought about it, never wondered if He did or not. I guess I assumed He did since He thinks. Hmmmm….as a fellow introvert I am glad my brain gets more connected in ways other than having lots of friends.

  6. “He loves you, he loves to think about you, and he’ll never run out of thoughts for you. I’m glad God has a bigger brain than I do.” Seriously!!

    Hmm..as an ENFP turned INFP, now morphing back into an ENFP (MBTI typology for what it is worth) , I clearly need to give other areas of my brain a fighting chance!!! Bye bye friends, hello Encyclopedia! 😀

  7. Aimee Byrd says:

    This post has my mind reeling as I am also reading from Scott Oliphint about God’s necessary knowledge and free knowledge and will. The degree to which God knows us just blows my mind.

  8. “Trying to explain the vastness of God is like trying to explain the Internet to an ant.”
    Don’t know where we heard this, but it’s one of my husband’s favorite quotes.

  9. Sarah Beals says:

    Fun article, Tim. Whenever we come home late at night and I’m walking in the driveway with my two youngest, I mention the gorgeous stars that are out, and then quote “When I consider the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained…” and then say “Isn’t God amazing that he thinks about us?” My girls call it the “star verse” now. 🙂

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