In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared mind.Louis Pasteur (27 December 1822 – 28 September 1895) French microbiologist, chemist, pioneer of the “Germ theory of disease”, discoverer of molecular asymmetry and stereo-chemistry, and inventor of the process of Pasteurization. (from here)

God made each of us for His own purposes. Why? I don’t truly know.  The Bible says God made us for His glory, but why would God believe we are even worthy of giving Him glory? What potential do we have? What gift has God given us that makes us worthy?

I reblogged The Freedom Of Being Wrong

a couple of days ago. This morning I went back and read the comment trail. It appears that I was not the only one intrigued by ‘s posts and the comments that followed.

ColorStorm says:
April 3, 2016 at 9:33 pm

Hey we’re crossing paths! Funny thing, I was thinking yesterday about the accumulation of knowledge that we have at our disposal, instantly even, and how we can actually choke on information, without processing it, chewing the cud, bringing it up for consideration again and again.

Then I thought of the vast wealth of truth even, and compared to God, how it must be a mere eye drop in the oceans of the world. ‘Eye has not seen, ear has not heard’ kinda thing, then again, God does delight in sharing his deep things with us.

And as you say, there is a potential danger, as if it is OUR knowledge, or OUR truth. No, it is not my truth, or yours, but we can share it. Experts though? I tire of the word ‘experts.’ Ha, insects are specialists, we are no insect.

But you are right though, there is power in admitting we are weak, feeble, peccable, while maintaining God is flawless. Good stuff trish.

Information! Does our ability to process data  and reach conclusions matter to God?

I think, therefore I am.René Descartes (from here)

If that is so, then does what we think and how we think matter?

Keith DeHavelle says:
April 5, 2016 at 4:50 pm

It seems to me that the free and instant access to information has cost humanity something important.

It has happened before: Up to the 1400s, humans in general had well-developed memories, and the scholars among us memorized entire manuscripts word for word, and painstakingly accumulated knowledge by deep reading and understanding. Then Gutenberg developed the printing press (in the face of yet another plague on the planet: an attorney stole it from him).

Soon, in the space of a few generations, one no longer needed to remember entire manuscripts worth of knowledge; you can acquire the thing as a book and have it one your shelf. The ability to memorize giant chunks of information, no longer exercised, was lost to most cultures. (continued here)

silenceofmind focused on the weakness of our memories.

  silenceofmind says:
April 8, 2016 at 6:06 am


Not everyone can remember whole manuscripts. Only a select few with high IQ’s can do that.

Books, and later calculators and computers and still later, wide area networks, opened up the treasure house of human knowledge and wisdom gained over the ages, to the common man.

A low born peasant like me can read and study Plato and Aristotle and the Founding Fathers like only the aristocracy of yore could do.

And isn’t it better to understand how something actually works according to “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God,” than to simply memorize large quantities of information?

How much does the memory matter? I guess that there is some correlation between having a good memory and high intelligence. However, I recall reading about a famous mathematician whose memory was far from perfect.  Therefore, when he could not remember a formula, he just derived the formula he needed. At that point I was both humbled by my stupidity and quite glad to have books.

Books or memorization? Since some of us have poor memories, perhaps there is a place for both.

It is no doubt of great importance to learn, to understand, and to retain information.  But what information? The Bible speaks of wisdom. If we don’t know how to properly apply what we know, what is the point of learning, understanding, and retaining knowledge?

Consider that much of ‘s post is an expression of personal regret. She admits to lacking humility, a common sin. Consider the words of an apostle.

1 Timothy 1:12-17 New King James Version (NKJV)

Glory to God for His Grace

12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, 13 although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. 16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise,[a] be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

When the Apostle Paul was born again, he repented. He repented of persecuting and killing people, Christians. He gratefully admitted how little he knew, and he accepted the grace, the love, and the mercy of our Savior.

Is our ability to repent what makes us worthy of glorifying God? Repenting of our sins does seem where we each must start.

So how should we prepare our minds — and the minds of our children? Perhaps we should strive to remember that God is the Creator, that He even created us. When we strive to to learn, to understand, and to retain information, we seek to discover in what we learn His Glory, not our own. It is to Him we must give the Glory and our worship.

15 thoughts on “THE PREPARED MIND

  1. I realize that the post is directed at larger questions than just memorization, but the latter is a point that interests me particularly. I’ve often wondered whether the sheer volume of information that we have access to in modern life – not just content, but also the proliferation of media beyond print – crowds out, hampers or extinguishes the ability to memorize. Keith’s comment got me back on this, although he posits that this is not a recent phenomenon, and that something like the advent of a moveable type printing press was a major medium multiplier that suppressed the memorization habit or ability over what it might have been in days of rare and not very accessible manuscripts. I hadn’t thought about that, but he may well be quite right – any major new medium for disseminating information may further diminish previous mental habits developed to cope with the limitations of the previous prevailing medium.

    The ability to memorize words, while it varies between individuals, seems to be something that is susceptible of improvement through practice. My family comes from somewhat poor, rural areas, and there has been a tendency over time for the males have long life spans and to marry and have children fairly late in life. As a consequence, my father, who died just a few years ago at 100 years of age, remembered well being schooled only intermittently at home and in a one-room school house. His father and mother were in turn home schooled by their parents – their fathers were combat veterans of the Civil War (it has always struck me that my sense of American history is perhaps artificially compressed because of the fact that, when I was a little boy, I knew people whose fathers had fought in the Civil War – it makes that period not seem very distant to me). My father later taught in multi-grade one-room school houses while working on his undergraduate degree (he eventually got his Ph.D. with the help of the GI Bill after WWII). In all these educational settings, memorization was used liberally, partly to account (Keith’s reference to Gutenberg foreshadows this) for the lack, or only temporary access to, reading materials. Both my father and grandfather had prodigious memories for great swathes of poetry and classical prose, whether in English or Latin. They were accustomed to committing text to memory and could do it well all their lives. I was always impressed with the sense that my father remembered virtually everything he had ever read, including some verbatim passages. Of course, it may not have been as it appeared to me, nonetheless, his memory of information absorbed in the print medium was startling.

    Another example: I had the honor to work in the Reagan administration and had some opportunities to observe the man close at hand on several occasions where it was clear that he had memorized his speaking points and was able to convincingly deliver remarks in a way that seemed almost impromptu, but, if one had been part of the staff work, one realized that he had a capacity to memorize, probably a skill that was very much an outgrowth of his acting career. Stage actors, even more than film actors who can shoot scenes in small segments, tend to have cultivated this gift from large-scale, quick memorization.

    Lincoln – again a man of very limited formal education – knew big chunks of Shakespeare and the King James translation of the Bible by heart. In his day, this appeared to be commonplace at least among the statesmen whose memoires and biographies we have access to.

    So the questions come back: are we less able than previous generations to memorize and recite because we have moved beyond a print-centric media world and our modern brains simply can’t handle the amount of information we process (however imperfectly), or is it just a matter of practice? I once had to make a long solitary sea passage. I decided to use my free time to memorize a poem each day from an anthology that I had on board. The poem I memorized on the 10th day was more easily stowed in my brain than the poem I attempted the first day. Interestingly (at least to me), I still remember all ten poems very well, some 30 years later.

    But I can’t ever seem to remember where I put the car keys or my spectacles.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. @Scout, who wrote:

      So the questions come back: are we less able than previous generations to memorize and recite because we have moved beyond a print-centric media world and our modern brains simply can’t handle the amount of information we process (however imperfectly), or is it just a matter of practice?

      The old “nature or nurture” question, basically. It seems to me to likely be a mixture, but far more on the “nurture” side — as you put it, it’s “a matter of practice.”

      The reason I think that nature does play a small role is from the notion that, over time, those who were capable of easily remembering great swathes of text might have been more successful (or at least more highly valued by society) and thus more likely to reproduce. I imagine that this natural selection effect was pretty small.

      But it isn’t just that we don’t get the practice, I think. Modern societies (with the notable exception of Islamic ones) simply don’t value memorization at all.

      This treatment started long ago: I was a younger man in the early 1970s, managing a restaurant. The district manager came in and during the conversation asked me if I knew anything about a particular topic. It happened to be one I was interested in, and I was able to provide a lot of info off the top of my head, answering more questions as he asked them. Finally, he looked at me for a moment and said, “I think you’re worth $300.”

      At the time, I was making $240 a week as a restaurant manager; this sounded good to me. “Thank you,” I said.

      He said, “I don’t mean $300 per week. I mean $300, one time. I can go out and replace you with a $300 encyclopedia set and be done with it.”

      “Then who’s going to run the store?”

      “Oh, I don’t mean anything about that, you’re doing great. But why have all this stuff in your head?”

      I tried not to look too relieved. “It’s not intentional, really, I’m just interested in a lot of things.”

      “Waste of time,” he said, and we went on to review business results. But it was disappointing.

      I’m still interested in a lot of things. But all over the Internet, where exposure to individual knowledge is far larger than in real life, I see evidence of huge masses of people that simply are not. Commenters in many forums repeat things that are utterly untrue, and that ten minutes of investigation would fix. But they get their news and opinions prepackaged from television shows, and not only fail to remember, they are disdainful of the whole idea of learning. That is the real disappointment, the difference between correctable ignorance and willful ignorance.

      One more reminiscence, if you’ll allow me: A fellow machinist from way back when described a lizard to me that lived under his house. From his description, I was able to help. “That’s called a racerunner. Very fast, and even able to run on its hind legs.” He shrugged. “I just call it a lizard,” and he turned away.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle


      1. @Keith

        Disdainful of learning or just jealous? As Aesop taught, people often disdain what they either won’t make the effort to do or cannot do.

        As a people, we spent a huge amount on learning. In order to pass tests, various professions require the memorization of large volumes of material. I know from personal experience that is true of scientists and engineers. What we don’t often do these days is require people to memorize the text of religious works. Why? Well, I think it is because we have a hard enough time just getting people to read the Bible.


      2. Keith, You and I are probably the types who spent a lot of times as children randomly reading Encyclopedias. That activity rivaled baseball as my favorite boyhood pastime. I would just grab a volume, open it randomly, and start reading. I didn’t think about the utility of what I was learning. It just seemed a valuable thing to do for no obvious, tangible reason.

        I wonder if kids today have anything similar to that experience. I suppose one can learn a lot by using the internet or hopping from link to link at a site like Wikipedia (I was looking at one this morning about musical tonality). There was, however, something very special about sitting on the floor in front of a multi-volume set of encyclopedias and thinking that, eventually, one might know everything.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. *chuckle*

          My biological parents, got back together and retrieved me at age 5 (to my dismay), could not afford a set of Encyclopedia Britannica volumes. But my mother had a friend that she visited often, and that friend had a set in her living room. That was, indeed, how I spent my time there. The friend had a daughter about my age, and I was keenly aware of the continuous “which child is smarter” contests between the two.

          The daughter and I became friends, but with an edge of imposed rivalry. Her name was an unusual one, and I just looked it up. Apparently she became a fairly well-known artist in Texas, and passed away in 2004. It’s been more than half a century since my last contact with her.

          For me, it wasn’t sports that kept me from being entirely an inside kid. It was a fascination with reptiles in particular, and wildlife in general. I wound up becoming a fairly adept camper/hiker/hunter before I turned 10.

          SilenceOfMind wrote,

          And isn’t it better to understand how something actually works according to “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God,” than to simply memorize large quantities of information?

          It has always seemed to me that learning is not “memorization” though it may include that as a tool of learning, and learning is a tremendous aid to exactly the sort of understanding described. Thus I, and many here, try to continually learn to improve my own understanding.

          I don’t have a lot of time for this, but I am finding educational podcasts to be useful. To SilenceOfMind’s point, I listened to the entire Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers this year, and found new layers since my last pass through these years ago.

          With any luck, I will be able to structure my life around such learning. For now, it’s back to earning a living.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Kind of a creepy idea, but there has been some research that suggests we are memorizing just as we always have, it is just that the things we are memorizing are now being injected into us by the media and the culture. I know kids that have the entire script from advertising jingles memorized as well as songs and albums, celebrity news and gossip. It is not that they can’t memorize, it is that their heads are already full, not unlike a hard disk on a computer.

          Elderly people have always experienced some issues with recall, memory, so even those who are sharp as a tack may require a few more moments to remember. Research suggests this is not really an aspect of aging, it is simply the brain needing more time to search through all the clutter. So today we have the same thing occurring in young adults, their ability to memorize and to learn is actually worse than what we’ve often seen in the elderly.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Here is the Communion Antiphon from today’s Catholic Saturday morning Mass celebration in the words of Jesus (John 17:24):

    “Father, I wish that, where I am, those you gave me may also be with me, that they may see the glory that you gave me.”

    Jesus, who possessed human nature, was teaching that humans being were created to actually share in the glory of God.

    This teaching is celebrated everyday in the Catholic Church in the sacrament of Holy Communion.

    That is, physically ingesting into our human bodies, the Body and Blood of Jesus so that we can join God in the land of the living, in his eternal glory.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. John 17 is the Lord’s Prayer. What we call the Lord’s is how we should pray, and it is humbling.

      In John 17 Jesus spoke of the love of God for us, that God is willing to give us so much for so little. Until Jesus, who knew God cared so much.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. John,

        Among Catholics and old fashioned Protestants the Lord’s Prayer has always been from Matthew 6:9-13:

        “9 This, then, is to be your prayer,

        Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name;

        10 thy kingdom come; thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven; 11 give us this day our daily bread;

        12 and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us;

        13 and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.”

        The Lord’s Prayer has been passed down through the centuries in Latin as,

        “Pater Noster (Our Father)”

        I don’t think your brand of Christianity would be considered Kosher.


  3. Wow Tom, what a great expansion of thought here from my original post. I love how individual knowledge respectfully shared can inspire contemplation and new thoughts on different but linked topics. Really good stuff here!

    To me intellect is partly the gathering and understanding of information. Wisdom is knowing what to do with it, which really only God can provide direction on. Humbling oneself enough to understand and follow this can be challenging and I believe pleases Him to no end when we do.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Very interesting, Tom. I love the wisdom of Solomon, all is vanity, there’s nothing new under the sun. I call that intellectual humility, surrendering to the idea that human wisdom is quite limited. There really is a kind of sorrow that comes from knowing too much. Some of the happiest and healthiest people spiritually actually suffer from major cognitive impairments. While they are busy delighting in the simple gifts that life brings, us brainiacs are busy wallowing in angst, misery, and woe, making one wonder who is more foolish?

    I of course, can’t say precisely why God created each of us, beyond for His glory, but I think some of it is that He desires to be seen and known by us, to share a relationship with us. He is like a Great Artist who has created all of creation and the painting needs to be seen, the Artist understood and recognized. Again, I can only equate it to marriage, a poor example for sure, but we seek a kind of communion with one another, love, companionship, to be seen and known for who we are. We are created in His image, so while the relationship is not equal by any means, the positive things we desire are likely similar to the things He desires. Of course God is much bigger than my ability to even imagine Him, but those are the rather limited human ideas that I am capable of relating to Him.

    Liked by 1 person

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