Small Brains, Big Brains

on November 28, 2009

Live Science: “Bigger Brains Not Always SmarterSmall brains can do big things. Big brains can miss the obvious.

Diminutive insects have tiny brains in comparison to humans, but they can still perform complex feats, such as counting, categorizing, and differentiating between shapes. This led researchers in the latest issue of Current Biology to suggest that it’s not the size of the brain that determines intelligence.

This led researchers in the latest issue of Current Biology to suggest that it’s not the size of the brain that determines intelligence.

Bigger animals, they argue, have bigger brains because there’s more to control:

they need to move bigger muscles and therefore need more and bigger nerves to move them, the authors say. But that may not equate to higher thought.

Looking through past research initiatives, Lars Chittka of the University of London and his team found many examples of insect intelligence. For instance, honeybees have a brain containing fewer than a million nerve cells—compared to 85 billion for humans—but the amazing pollinators have no trouble finding flowers or making honey.

We’d love to stop right there and marvel at the incredible design inherent in brains of all sizes. But the researchers—perhaps not impressed with what they found—decided to tack on a few materialistic claims:

The authors suggest that “advanced” thinking requires a very limited number of neurons. Computer modeling shows that even consciousness can be generated with tiny neural circuits, which could in theory easily fit into an insect brain, they write.

And there you have it. Slap a few neural circuits together and—voila!—consciousness. Computer modeling says so.

However, this hardly accords with reality. All the elements of life can exist in dead animals, for example—the atoms, the molecules, the biological systems. But just because those elements are there doesn’t mean the animal will spring back to life. There’s something missing beyond mere matter.

Materialists have no choice but to believe that consciousness comes from the brain, which is why they like to bluff about how easy it will be to create one day. The irony, of course, is that these are conscious, self-aware beings willing to deny their own consciousness in favor of a mechanistic universe.

Beyond this, brain size should never be the determining factor in how “smart” or “advanced” something is. Insects having complex reasoning shouldn’t surprise creationists in the least. After all, “advanced” is an evolutionary invention to arbitrarily separate “primitive” life or species from more recent ones—such as “primitive” humans in the past from “wise” humans now (the meaning of sapiens in Homo sapiens).

All life is complex—more complex than anything humans can create. Sure, we can borrow ideas from what we find in nature and perhaps even one day “create” semi-homemade life using cobbled-together parts. But consciousness and life are gifts from a Being far beyond our ability to comprehend. He took great care in designing even the smallest brain to do amazing things.

Materialists would do well to use the one He gave them to see the evidence all around them.

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