Sunday, August 03, 2008

Faith: The Potential for Sight (or Foresight)

From a multi-lateral discussion on faith and, well, un-faith, came out rather interesting analogies worth looking at.

It all started with someone saying that a human, like a frog, lives in a dimension back-dropped by a pond-water horizon, floating and flying insects, underwater dwellers and flora on a river bank that makes up the hills or mountains of this lowly amphibian. He does not know what lies beyond this pond-world. If he knew, he would be more than a frog; I mean, human.

From this analogy, one argued that, as a consequence, if another frog, a lab-escapee, for example, would tell of a world of test tubes, flasks, glass cages and gigantic monsters dressed in white who tortured and killed frogs.

Now that would be like someone coming from a place like hell, telling earthlings that there is such a horrible place one must avoid at all cost. Or, that there is also such a place called heaven. It would take a lot of effort to convince a pond-frog of the “truth”.

The above analogy segued to one which illustrates the clash between the concepts of sight and faith. Someone who can see has learned the concept of color. A blind person, on the other hand, has no conception of what red or blue means. No amount of verbal description can help that blind person to “see the light or truth”. Faith in God, in short, develops only on the basis of seeing or understanding certain concepts that are beyond the purview of “normal” experience.

At that point, I had to raise the analogy much higher by saying that for God to be truly wise, then, He would have inputted in humans the idea of eternity itself for us to be able to grasp the infinite or the very nature of the Divine. Otherwise, we would all be hopeless frogs with no lovely princess to kiss us to a blissful metamorphosis.

Even someone who is born blind, I argued, had the potential for sight even as a fetus. We all started as normal, one-celled beings that rapidly multiplied and acquired the basic parts necessary to become humans – the developing limbs, torso, skeleton and organs. The specialized components needed to build the eyes and to achieve the capacity for sight would have been there in the first few months of every person. Somewhere along the development, the DNA might decide to make erroneous or abnormal encoding to produce incomplete or defective organs. And for those who had fully-formed and already functioning eyes in their final stages of gestation, say 7th or 8th month, and contacted a disease that made their eyes fail, the concept of sight, unconscious perhaps, would have at least left some pre-natal memories in the blind baby that came out into the world.

Yes, we can argue that in the womb, the idea of color would still be irrelevant. But that of sound is not. So, who can tell that a baby in a womb cannot see? Don’t we see darkness when we close our eyes? So, in that sense, the color black is what a blind person can fully understand. His lack of sight does not mean he or she does not have the capacity to imagine what colors may be in reality by using other tools available, like the sense of touch, sounds and tastes. In fact, there is this syndrome called photo-audio-synthesis which allows a person to actually see colors through particular sound stimuli.

Or who can argue that the potential for sight in an unborn infant couldn’t be as real or actual as that of a baby already born but still with eyes closed? At that stage, the baby may already be accustomed to the color red as it sees the glimmer of light behind its unmoving eyelids. Perhaps, we are all born with eyes closed to prevent us from being blinded by the light. That the idea of learning involves familiarizing ourselves with the light just as the dawn gradually accustoms our eyes to the glowing sunlight when we awaken? (Today, we are almost always awake with all the lights at night that surround us – the lamppost, the gate light, the digital wall-clock and the cell-phone beside us. So much light, but not enough enlightenment.)

Why do we sleep in the darkness? Why do we dream with our eyes closed? Perhaps, that is when we really see what we wish for and what we need to see. For scientists and artists, that is where they unravel mysteries of nature and create masterpieces. The “unconscious” (what we do not see) may actually be the realm where we can encounter the truth and that the “conscious” (what we see or, at least, think we see) is merely the surface of the ocean.

We may have no recollections of our stay in the womb as our senses were not meant to function as they should in that stage. But that does not mean we were not alive and prepared to live the life we now have. That does not mean we have zero memory of that stage or that we were totally unaware of our own future.

Perhaps, we kicked in the womb to signal our desire to walk or see who is talking. Like John the Baptizer acknowledging the presence of the Lord, while they were still both in the womb. Our infancy then simply reminds us of our present journey toward what life is and can be all about.

Finally, an unborn child has no doubt that it has a mother, just as we are sure that we live in this physical world. Somehow, it must have inkling that it also has a father whose voice it can hear and whose presence is irrefutably real. So it is with faith in God.

Hence, an infant pictures the simple process of developing the foresight in faith. For such is the search for truth: We all have the potential for sight or faith which is nothing but the ability to see beyond what we see or beyond what is. Even beyond what we do not see. Those of us who remain in the pond will remain as frogs. But those who know – for humans are prescient beings – that they are potential princes and princesses will travel far to meet their savior; ah, should I say, lover? They are one and the same.

In the womb, we were all potential human beings, just as we are now potential divine beings.

Hence, God will not send His Son to do the impossible – die – without having a noble purpose for doing so. No, He would not have even dreamed of taking the form of a human being if the humans He was meant to save did not have the potential or the latent ability to desire to become like Him and to know like He knows. That is, to achieve everlasting life and to be with God.

To Adam and Eve, the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of the Good and Evil carried both the experience and the realization that Good meant that humans have the Divine Nature and that Evil meant they will die in that state. God-like and yet mortal. To have physical immortality at first and then to die. To be made in the image of the Creator but condemned to carnal decay. A complete reversal of God’s original plan.

Yet, all that misfortune is undone through faith in Christ, the God Incarnate.

Yes, Satan laughed at the idea of the Incarnation saying that humans will curse God instead. But, amazingly, the curse that Christ went through – the crucifixion – became the source of our salvation. Checkmate, Satan! Game over! Faith won the day.

But today Satan continues to muddle the light. He continues to create so much unbelief. He continues to make it hard for people to see in spite of all the evidences available. So much proof that if the ancient Greeks had access to it and they were to appear before us now, they would berate us for our foolishness. “Logos” would have been Christ in every nation by now if they had a way of reaching us. But the ancient Greeks do live in the pages of Scriptures. By faith, their testimony lives forever. So will we if we believe. Such is the power of the Word. Anyone who does not appreciate such power is as blind as an astronomer who has seen the far reaches of the Universe and still denies the existence of an Intelligent Creator.

For faith is merely confirming what God has done in creating the Universe and giving humans life, pleasure and abundance. The reverse of faith – unbelief – denies the truth and all that God has done. We waste our potential. We remain blind because we will not see.

Many say, “To see is to believe.” I say, “To believe is to truly see.”

So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider. (Isa 52:15)

(Photo above: The world is a big pond and we are but frogs leaping on its fringes. But then, even frogs can see the sun and not deny a bigger world out there.)