The thoughts of a believer of mixed origins.
Like the many individual strands in a rope bound together to form a whole, my spirituality has been formed from many streams, ancient to modern, of Christian ideas and practices. Charismatic, evangelical, contemplative paths have all left their mark. I am truly a Mongrel Christian. Welcome...I don't bite...well hardly ever.
Thursday, 15 May 2014
An Argument for the Spiritual
Consider how old the universe is. Consider how big it is. Consider how long things were going on in this universe before life began on the earth, before human beings came a long, before consciousness arrived. It’s a long, long time and a very big universe. It really messes with our sense of scale. It’s like dealing with natural logarithms or probability, we don’t have a feel for these time periods and expanses of space. We have never needed to have a touch for these ideas until the last 200 years.
So we tell the story of origins and meaning of life with the wrong lenses on. We tell a story…That’s what we do. Our minds need stories, they are how we organise reality, put it on our plate chop it up and consume it. But our way of processing truth should not change the actual truth we are processing, like kids thinking that fish have fingers or that milk comes from supermarkets. Like Schrödinger’s cat.
There is a universe out there. It began 14 billion years ago. If a 24 hour day, represented the beginning to now, we come in less than the last second.
We look out and try to figure it out with our limits of intelligence and need to break everything down into bite size, intelligible morsels. But this story cannot be like the ones we know from our normal lives, can it? Does it have to be understandable and logical like everything else we know? Is it not possible that we cannot understand it but won’t admit it?
We have 5 senses that evolved to enable our ancestors to survive and pass on their genes. The senses did their jobs allowing us to perceive enough of the reality of the universe to survive. We apply these senses -useful for surviving – to the universe and try to figure out where it came from and what it means. Is it not possible that there are other parts of the universe that exist that we don’t know about (and that we would need senses different to the ones we have evolved to survive with) and that we need new senses to experience and to inform our search. To use an analogy, we would not expect a soldier who has developed the skills needed to survive in the jungle to be able to play a complicated piece of piano music only based on his experience in the jungle.
Why are we sure that there is nothing beyond what we can experience with our 5 senses? Surely, by definition we must admit that a new undiscovered sense would seem supernatural to anyone who didn’t have it. What must it be like for a person born blind to see colours for the first time? How could you describe the colour red to a blind person and how it is different to the colour green? We don’t have the language.
Of course it is possible that we have all the senses we need to eventually fully understand the universe. But wouldn’t it be a fluke that our evolution gave us all the senses we need for everything, even things that we didn’t meet along the way.
There are dimensions around us all the time that we simply cannot experience. Because our senses never needed to experience them to get us here. Similar to the 2D people living on flatland thinking it inconceivable that there is a 3D world, we might think that the idea of other dimensions of reality is madness. But why? So is the colour red to a blind person and yet we know that the colour red exists. It would seem supernatural, i.e. beyond what we know and have experienced. Couldn’t there exist spiritual realm within the universe? One which with our laws of physics, expanded, could describe, new equations etc. A realm, that once we were used to it, would seem continuous with what we know. Where a child could understand that a resurrected Jesus can appear in the upper room and then disappear. Where miracles make as much sense as putting on the kettle. A world where there is no difference at all between the physical and spiritual worlds, because there isn’t any difference, really. NT Wright continually reminds us that ‘our world’ is wrapped up, intermeshed with what we call ‘the spiritual world’. Like sugar in hot tea, we are diluted in the the spiritual world and yet rarely sense or realize it. Isn’t this what the final new creation is all about? If we open our eyes we can see glimpses and perhaps ‘see in part.’
So let’s realize that this is the reality we live in and ask God to enhance our spidey senses.
So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the LORD opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.