Once when I had been lurking among a few atheist blogs, one thing stumped me. How is it that some people can’t see the nose on their face?
Serious. What seems so obvious and self-evident and true becomes a great puzzle to a group of people, or a myth to be debunked, or a superstition to be discounted.
Why is it that some people are so easily sucked into disbelief?
Children have no problem believing in what they cannot see. Monsters, Inc. was such a funny movie because we could all relate to the concept of believing in frightful creatures that popped out at night when we were alone in the dark.
Of course children stop believing in monsters because adults tell them they aren’t real and that they don’t need to be afraid. But how does the all wise adult know there are no monsters? He or she relies on what they can see.
They in turn crush something inside their child that recognizes the unseen world, teaching her to trust only in her physical senses, not her internal sense that this universe is greater and more complex than even science can know.
Am I saying there ARE monsters? Yes, there are. In religious terms we call them demons. Am I saying that every child afraid of a monster is seeing demons? No. I remember distinctly thinking something was in my room at night, only to realize it was the shadow of a tree moving with the wind or a pile of clothes I’d forgotten was on the chair.
Truly our imaginations can “make us” see things that aren’t there. But how foolish to use that as proof that spiritually evil creatures don’t exist.
Because I don’t see black holes when I look at space, am I going to say those scientists who acknowledge them are superstitious? that they are making things up? that they’re believing a myth? No. I’m going to acknowledge that they have equipment that allows them to see into space in a way I can’t see. I’m going to trust in their expertise, research, calculations, and conclusions.
Why don’t spiritual matters work the same way?
Well, they actually do. More than once the Bible records a person who is given spiritual sight so he can see what otherwise he could not. Elisha, for example, saw his master caught up by a whirlwind into heaven after a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated them.
We can poo poo such a thing, claim it never happened
But we can poo poo black holes too and say they don’t exist.
Oh, someone may counter, they do exist. You just have to infer its presence through its interaction with other matter and with electromagnetic radiation such as light.
But the same is true spiritually. God’s presence can be inferred through all kinds of evidences–Scripture, His miraculous work in the world, nature itself, the experiences of countless believers.
What about all the countless believers in a different god? Doesn’t that prove the myth aspect of the spiritual? No, actually not. All it proves is that there are counterfeits–that the spiritual world includes more than God, that as the Bible makes clear, there is a spiritual war going on between darkness and light.
Here’s what God told Paul when He revealed Himself and called the apostle to Him.
“For this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:16b-18 – emphasis mine).
Some things require spiritual eyes to see. I’m pretty sure a person who says, The supernatural does not exist, isn’t a candidate for spiritual eyes.
That would be like saying, Prove to me the existence of black holes but don’t use inference. Well, you’d be told, you need to infer their existence from their interaction with matter and with light. Hypothetical, the doubter says, nothing more than indirect observation from which you’re finding what you hoped to find. You have no proof.
Well, actually, if I were a scientist and saw what they saw, calculated what they calculated, tested what they tested, I could reach the same conclusion. But the doubter unwilling to accept inference as proof will discount it all.
How odd that we so easily accept as true the fallible research of humans struggling to know that which is so distant from us, so other, and yet we do not accept the infallible record of God revealing Himself so that He will no longer be distant from us, so that we can comprehend, at least in part, His very otherness.
I can only conclude that seeing the spiritual requires spiritual eyes.
This post first appeared here in May 2013.