People don’t memorize anything – a decade of changes

People don’t memorize anything.  At least according to   That’s probably an overstatement.  There must be some things we memorize.  Sure, it took me ages to remember my own cell phone number.  But who calls themselves?  At least I know my address.  But the problem really comes when we look to Google, Siri, Alexa, Etc. to provide us all our information.

People don’t memorize anything - a decade of changes is article #5 in the series: Ten years of life changes. Click button to view titles for entire series

People don’t memorize anythingTo that end, here’s what had to say about not memorizing anything.

Psychologists like to use the term “outsourcing our brain.” When was the last time you actually memorized a phone number that wasn’t your significant other’s? Everything you need to know is a click away. In many cases you don’t even need your phone anymore — Alexa, Siri, or Cortana will instantaneously provide you with the information you need.

Oh no.  Not Cortana.  Please.  I have a Windows desktop.  And a notebook.  But I draw the line at using Cortana or Edge.  But I digress.  Back to the topic.

Empty memories and blank post-it notes

To some extent, our memories are becoming like those post-it notes above.  Empty.  Because it’s so easy to just look things up.

Truth is, when I was working I was like that too.  When I did operating system support on mainframe computers, I had dozens and dozens of manuals.  There’s no way I was going to memorize all that. 

Although, I did have a class time where the instructor had a photographic memory.  We had at least 20 manuals, just for that class.  Two weeks.  All day.  The guy didn’t have one single note for the entire time.  And when a question was asked, he told us the manual, the page number, and how far down the page the answer was.  Every time!

But not me.  I was happy just to remember which book things were in.  Then I could find what I needed after that.  

But now?  Online manuals.  Online everything.  Who needs to memorize?

Who needs to memorize?

I’ll tell you who needs to memorize.  Everyone.  

Yes, we have online everything.  But there’s a lot of junk out there.  A lot that’s wrong.  Outdated. Just plain mistaken.  Or outright wrong on purpose.  Did you read the previous article in this series?  It was Fake news is everywhere.

Memorizing in Biblical times

Since this is a site about religion, Christianity and others, you knew it was going to come to this.  If you weren’t expecting it, you probably wouldn’t be here.

The first use of the word remember

Even non-Christians probably know about the flood.  The time when God wiped out all the people and every living creature except Noah and his family, along with the animals in the Ark with him.  Of course, even some of the animals in the ark didn’t make it, since there was not only the “2 by 2”, but also some additional ones for food.

After that flood, this is what God told Noah and his sons.

God’s Covenant With Noah

Ge 9:8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: 9 “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

Ge 9:12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

Ge 9:17 So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

Did you catch it?

I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind.

Did you remember that God’s covenant wasn’t just with Noah and his sons, but also with all living creatures of every kind?

Maybe that’s a reason to memorize at least some things?  If not the actual words, at least the important facts?  Like, assuming you have them, that God’s covenant is with your pets?  

There’s more in there too.  Other things you may not remember.  For instance,

Gen 9:3 Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.
Ge 9:4 “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.

How’s that for needing to remember things?  If you remember all those restrictions about eat this but not that, they didn’t come until Exodus.

Speaking of Exodus

Not the book of Exodus, but The Exodus.  There was a command from God to remember something.  Actually to not forget.  Which does mean to remember.  Back then, of course, there was no Google.  So they had to memorize it.  Especially since the ability to read was rare.

But even today, if we don’t memorize anything, how do we even know to go out to Google to look for something?

Well, here’s what God told them to not forget.

Obedience Commanded

Dt 4:9 Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. 10 Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.” 11 You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain while it blazed with fire to the very heavens, with black clouds and deep darkness. 12 Then the LORD spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice. 13 He declared to you his covenant, the Ten Commandments, which he commanded you to follow and then wrote them on two stone tablets. 14 And the LORD directed me at that time to teach you the decrees and laws you are to follow in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess.

Kind of important, don’t you think?  And while we are New Testament / New Covenant people today, there is an equivalent to remember.  You know – the stuff Jesus taught?  

Maybe even more important, things like the fact that Christians (should) believe that Jesus is the Son of God.  That He is God.

Memorizing – being able to avoid being misled

Where  I live, there are frequently people from Jehovah’s Witness coming around to talk to us about their religion.  They claim to be Christian.  They also claim to believe in Jesus.  If you try to get more than that, they become very defensive.  Along those lines, here’s something they believe, but really don’t like to mention when they know they’re talking to a Christian.

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is God’s “only-begotten Son”, and that his life began in heaven. He is described as God’s first creation and the “exact representation of God”, but is believed to be a separate entity and not part of a Trinity.

Now – that excerpt is from wikipedia.  I really don’t like to use them as a source.  But a lot of people do use it, so it fits my purpose here.  If you were to use Google to find out about Jesus and this is the first thing you came to – you’d probably believe it.  And, you’d also believe that Jesus isn’t part of the Trinity.  That He’s not God.  And since Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to be Christian, you’d come away thinking that was the Christian viewpoint.

BTW – for those who may doubt what I just wrote about what JW believes, it’s on their own website at

But it isn’t!  That’s not what Christianity is about.  And while JW claims to use the same Bible that “all” Christians do – that’s also not true.  I had two of them at my door and we had quite a long discussion. 

One of them got very upset when I pulled out my iPad with my copy of supposedly the same translation they had – and it wasn’t the same.  Oops.  They left immediately.  Full disclosure – they did come back and he apologized for getting angry.  But didn’t want to discuss the passage any further.

Yet another good reason to at least memorize some facts.

If we don’t memorize anything …

If we don’t memorize anything, or at least the important things, bad things can happen.  From the Christian point of view, or maybe I should say from the person who thinks they’re Christian but doesn’t take the time to memorize anything:

The Book of the Law Found

22:1-20 pp — 2Ch 34:1-2, 8-28

2Ki 22:1 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. His mother’s name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath. 2 He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.

That last verse is interesting.  It sounds good, doesn’t it?  He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.  And yet, by verse 11 Josiah will be very disturbed at how far aside he really is.  Here’s the key:

22:2 nor did he turn aside. Josiah had complete devotion to God’s approved course of conduct for his life (cf. 23:25). He obeyed the Mosaic stipulations as he came to know them, following the example of David, who set the pattern for the rulers of God’s people (Dt 17:11, 20; Jos 1:7).  [1]MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (2 Ki 22:2). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

So, it’s not that Josiah really stayed on the straight and narrow.  He didn’t really follow The Law of God.  He followed The Law as he knew it.  That means some combination of what  he’d been told, what he’d seen, and being human – some of his own desires probably factored in as well.  In other words, he didn’t truly follow The Law of God as it was written.

2Ki 22:3 In the eighteenth year of his reign, King Josiah sent the secretary, Shaphan son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, to the temple of the LORD. He said: 4 “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest and have him get ready the money that has been brought into the temple of the LORD, which the doorkeepers have collected from the people. 5 Have them entrust it to the men appointed to supervise the work on the temple. And have these men pay the workers who repair the temple of the LORD— 6 the carpenters, the builders and the masons. Also have them purchase timber and dressed stone to repair the temple. 7 But they need not account for the money entrusted to them, because they are acting faithfully.”

2Ki 22:8 Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the LORD.” He gave it to Shaphan, who read it. 9 Then Shaphan the secretary went to the king and reported to him: “Your officials have paid out the money that was in the temple of the LORD and have entrusted it to the workers and supervisors at the temple.” 10 Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king.

Uh Oh.  Here comes the moment of truth.  Josiah is now 26 years old.  And he’s about to find out whether his knowledge of The Law actually lines up with The Law.  It’s going to come down to whether or not people memorized the law properly.  That would be the people from the time the Book of The Law was lost, right up until the time The Book was found.

2Ki 22:11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. 

Oops.  Looks like either The Book of The Law wasn’t memorized, or it wasn’t memorized properly.  Either way, this isn’t good news.

12 He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: 13 “Go and inquire of the LORD for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the LORD’S anger that burns against us because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.”

2Ki 22:14 Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Acbor, Shaphan and Asaiah went to speak to the prophetess Huldah, who was the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem, in the Second District.

2Ki 22:15 She said to them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Tell the man who sent you to me, 16 ‘This is what the LORD says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people, according to everything written in the book the king of Judah has read. 17 Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and provoked me to anger by all the idols their hands have made, my anger will burn against this place and will not be quenched.’ 18 Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: 19 Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people, that they would become accursed and laid waste, and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the LORD. 20 Therefore I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.’ ”

Keep in mind, this was Old Testament.  Old Covenant.  Punishment and reward.  More immediate than now, under the New Covenant.   It was about this life, not the next.  In any case, even though Josiah thought they were following The Law, they weren’t.  Justice requires some sort of penalty.

So they took her answer back to the king.

The New Covenant

These days, under the New Covenant, justice comes in the next life.  And we don’t have to pay the price for not following The Law.  Partly because it’s a New Covenant, and The Law, per se, has been changed from “don’t do this” to  “do this” by Jesus.  And, when we acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God, accept His offer of salvation and truly try to follow His teachings, His Crucifixion pays for our sins.

However, there’s still a need for some amount of memorization.  Things like –

The Greatest Commandment – Matthew

22:34-40 pp — Mk 12:28-31

Mt 22:34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Mt 22:37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Things like that seem to be worth memorizing.  And yet, many people who think they’re Christians, just like Josiah thought he was following The Law, don’t do it.  And then we end up thinking we’re living right, even though we aren’t.

Jesus warned us of exactly that event.

A Tree and Its Fruit

Mt 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Mt 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Conclusion – If we don’t memorize anything

Yeah – ultimately, not memorizing anything is a bad way to live life.  Some things are just too important to not memorize.  Because of the cost of remembering them wrong, or looking them up in the wrong place, it’s just too high.

No one who wants to be Christian should go through life without memorizing certain things.  Things Jesus taught.  Because the one thing we don’t want to hear is Jesus saying, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!

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1 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (2 Ki 22:2). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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