Potiphar12's Blog
An Octogenarian in the modern world

THE INTELLECTUAL PRISON

 

Encountering some health problems, and speculating about the future for myself and my wife, I find myself reading the New testament in the evenings. It is all rather casual, and last night the book fell open at the Gospel according to Matthew. Matthew is very strong on miracles and I read the story of the feeding of the five thousand and the walking on water. I wondered in what sense I could believe those stories. My modern mind sought for some allegorical truth behind them. Christ did not, my mind said, literally feed five thousand people with a handful of loaves and fishes. Christ did not, literally, walk out over the sea of Galilee without sinking. So my mind asked what the stories meant and why they were written.

Imagining a meaning is not too hard. You can say that the 5,000 story is meant to show that spiritual benefits are not limited in the same way as physical benefits. You can say that the walking on water is meant to show that faith and belief can enable men to achieve extraordinary things. But why were the stories written like that? Why fabricate a story when the message can be offered in a simple, clear, direct way? Did the writer believe what he had written to be literally true? Well, perhaps he did. Unless the writer had witnessed the events, he was only reporting what he had heard from others. There is room for alterations in verbal transmission and room for ‘improvement’ if the central figure has since been recognised as ‘The Son of God’.

But these thoughts are the product of a modern mind that can’t accept this sort of miracle and has to explain it. This is an instinctive reaction forced upon me by the rational and scientific age in which we live. The alternative is to believe that it really did happen. Just suppose that there is indeed some omnipotent, supernatural power that controls the universe and is called by us GOD. If you believe that, as many do, then you have to accept that GOD can perform miracles if He wants to.

Science seeks to explain the universe logically and impersonally in terms of cause and effect that are both discernible to us through our senses, aided by instruments. Religion insists that there are opposing forces of good and evil. That classification makes them purposeful rather than dictated by previous events. They are therefore outside the boundaries of science. Does science have any boundaries? Can anything exists outside such boundaries?

In the present times we have been conditioned to answer NO. But at the heart of the scientific method is OBSERVATION. Modern instruments vastly extend our ability to observe things, but the observation still depends on our physical senses. What if things exist which our senses are not capable of recognising? Many thinkers and philosophers and holy men have  claimed that there are such things. They can’t prove their case to the satisfaction of scientists. Of course not: for the scientific insistence on observation through our human senses disqualifies them. So it comes down to one question. Do you, or do you not believe that everything in the universe can – or will eventually – be apparent to this species called Homo Sapiens? To believe that seems to me to be dangerous and arrogant. I would like to escape from this prison that science has constructed around my mind.

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