Question: A neurosurgeon, whom you quote often, applied electric currents to the brain’s surface....Probing some areas would trigger whole memory sequences, [even] a familiar song that sounded so clear, the patient thought it was being played in the operating room....It seems that memory is physical [yet] you say thoughts even about physical things are nonphysical....If memory is part of the brain, then I can’t see why thoughts, too, can’t be part of the brain....If memory is nonphysical and has a physical source, then I can’t see why thoughts can’t have a physical source too (i.e., the brain).
Answer: First of all, even the memory of a physical event must result from its having been observed by a nonphysical intelligence or there would be no memory imprinted upon the brain, which in itself neither observes, thinks, nor understands. Memory, like other ideas, involves thought, and thoughts are clearly not physical because they involve nonphysical ideas such as truth, justice, perfection, etc. Amazingly, however, because of the mysterious connection of the mind to the brain, what the mind thinks is recorded upon the brain.
Obviously, no event of itself creates memories. Nor is the mechanism (whatever it may be, such as a video camera) by which a memory is recorded, the source of either the event or a memory thereof. Thus the brain is no more the source of memories physically stored on it than a video or DVD or audiocassette or computer is the source of sights and sounds physically stored on it.
Dr. Wilder Penfield, to whom you refer, described the brain as “a computer programmed by something independent of itself, the mind.” That a computer (or the brain) can have implanted on its physical structure “memories” of ideas or events, does not mean that the computer (or brain) originated such ideas or events. Just as an intelligence that exists outside and is independent of the computer must put into it whatever “memory” it has, so it is the mind (the independent intelligence) that imprints memories on the brain. Simple logic tells you that if thoughts originate with the brain, then the person living in that body is not doing the thinking but is at the mercy of the brain—and who will monitor the brain to see whether its thoughts are accurate?
The physical brain serves many essential functions, but in all of them it is either directed by the mind or operates as an integrated part of autonomic body systems. The brain is not an intelligence. The fact that memories are physically recorded in certain parts of the brain and can be awakened by an electrical stimulus of such areas does not say that the brain either originated or even knows the significance of these memories. In the case of an event that was observed, both the awareness of the event and a comprehension of its relevance requires a nonphysical mind. A memory has no existence without a mind to recognize and give it meaning.