Trouble Memorizing Scripture? Scientists say, “Turn Off Your Computer and Go Outside”

Narrow is the path that leads to righteousness The Scriptures tell us we are to mediate on the words of the Bible “day and night” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:1-2). This requires that we care for our minds and make ourselves aware of how our technology and environment affects our ability to focus on the Scriptures. A few recent studies indicate that being constantly connected to technology impairs our minds, affecting this aspect of spirituality.

  1. A study from the University of Michigan says that going outside and spending a few moments with nature – you know, that thing we’re supposed to take care of (Gen 2:15) – can improve your focus, memory, and attention.
  2. At the same time, scientists also say that city life can dull our thinking. “After spending a few minutes on a crowded city street, the brain is less able to hold things in memory, and suffers from reduced self-control.” This study also suggests that nature can improve the brain’s ability to think.
  3. Earlier last year, Nicholas Carr asked the question, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” which suggested that our brains are adapting to searching rather than knowing. We can know process lots of little pieces of information, but not large blocks. (The Bible is a large block).

Computers are a blast and necessary in our day, but if we want to grow spiritually, the scientists seem to be saying that we should spend a little less time with our creations and a little more time with God’s.

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John Dyer

In my day job, I work at Dallas Theological Seminary, and at night I write Bible software for countries whose leaders could be called "overlords." This one time, I wrote a book about technology and Christian faith. You can find out more about what I'm up to at

6 thoughts on “Trouble Memorizing Scripture? Scientists say, “Turn Off Your Computer and Go Outside””

  1. I am going to have my class read this when we study the Romantics in my World Literature class. . . Much of Wordsworth and Keats’s poetry deals with this theme of nature and our need to get away from the industrialized world for a bit to connect deeply with God.

  2. Really great thoughts. As we have talked about, I do think through the fact of our brains being “trained” if you will by “services” such as google, twitter, facebook, etc. We are becoming accustomed to rapid amounts of small tid-bits of information, and rather we know it or not; all of this is impacting our thinking, communication style, etc. (Not just with people, but even in the way by which we communicate with God. As if God only wants us to “micro-blog” our life to Him.)

    Although I really enjoy “social networking” I always want to enjoy my “real life” relationships and spend more time pouring into those then I do these “virtual” ones.

    I think a computer fast would do many of us good – myself very much included.

  3. On the flip side, there are some great tools for memorising scripture that technology provides. For example, I’m trying the Mental Case app for my iphone – it’s like an electronic flash card system, and I’m finding it useful.

  4. Loving this blog and particularly this post. I will be back in the future to read more.

    I have always wondered about computers, the way our brain works and spirituality. I find preparing for messages that just pushing away from the computer and or writing and then transferring my notes to digital alway “unlocks something” for me spiritually.

    Thanks man.

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