Explaining the Inexplicable

hidden-3d.com-gallery-x-3Dimka_Chel_CamelIt is surely true that one of the greatest lessons I learned as I ventured into the blogosphere is something that cannot be learned easily in the real world, unless over long periods of time.

It is that everyone’s brain does not work the same. We tend to think that they do. When we come up against a person who seems unreasonable and without logic in their thinking, we tend to say “it’s just them”, as in something is wrong with them individually.

But when, via the Internet, you meet dozens and then more dozens of people who have this same “problem”, you realize that there must be really different ways to organize thinking.

The two groups that have frustrated me the most are fundamentalists and atheists. I probably should subdivide that somewhat because not all atheists are the same, nor probably all fundamentalists. Let us just say that the most fervent among either group share this trait–a perfectly ironclad belief that they are right, and a perfectly ironclad belief that there is no fact out there that can change their mind. They basically don’t acknowledge the latter of course.

Fundamentalists insist that I suspend all my senses and the accompanying logical deductions that seem to support conclusions in accord with those senses and believe that for whatever reason God wants us to believe a completely different scenario of “how things came to be”.  Our senses serve double duty–allowing us to function in a natural world, yet designed apparently to lead us terribly astray if we follow them to their logical ends. In other words, see the dangerous animal ahead, but don’t look much further into what composes the animal.

Atheists, at least the vocal ones nowadays, say all such God-talk is utter nonsense, and there is no point in trying to debate a fantasy. No one who believes in God, whatever their education can be other than a dolt. They are reduced to making fun of believers, mining the Bible for quote after quote, ridiculing the logic and implications. If you try to point out history, context, literary genre, or anything similar, they point out that “progressive” explanations are merely attempts to not dump the baby out with the bath water.

Atheists reduce all religion to fundamentalist definitions because that is the easy target. It is would be akin to defining and then criticizing all political parties using only the Tea Party model.

It is frustrating to “explain” belief to a non-believer. It is hard to explain because if you have not had that “moment” its hard to make it understandable. It requires a willingness to think outside the box I guess.

I have no answer for the fundamentalist. Mostly life either throws them a curve that upsets their apple cart or it doesn’t. For those to whom that happens, they discard fundamentalism rapidly thereafter, and alas often any belief in God at all. This is the unfortunately reality. The Internet abounds with various “help” blogs for “recovering fundamentalists”.

But there are a vast number of atheists out there who are not of the vocal and hysterical variety. They are just quietly what they are, much as I was for many years. Contrary to the “new” atheists who claim they are discriminated against, I and I dare say most atheists have never felt this. Frankly it’s something that seldom comes up in any conversation.

Among my atheist or agnostic friends, still the subject of “why do you believe in God” does arise in a friendly way, and as I said, it is hard to explain.

This is all to say, that I have found what I believe is the most cogent and helpful explanation of what believing is all about. And it’s all about stereograms.

Stereograms are pictures that contain other images within. For some, the other picture is apparent almost immediately. For others, it takes some minutes, maybe longer. For some few, it never happens. The beauty here is that even those that “never can”, can at least recognize that others can.

Thus belief is seen as “another way of thinking” or “another way of seeing”. Some can “see” this way easily, some after a while, some only after a long while, and some never. But the nevers (atheists) can at least know that others can see this different way.

If that all sounds confusing, then I urge you to go to Making the Spiritual World Real. I’m quite sure that David Flowers explains it much better than I. If we can make inroads in our differences, at least to understand each other, then we have moved miles.

Blessings this day.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. athornamongmany
    Oct 06, 2013 @ 11:15:52

    Brilliant! Sherry, when I take the time to read what you’ve written, I am never disappointed. Love to you…


    • Sherry
      Oct 07, 2013 @ 10:06:08

      Oh Jerry I was just thinking of you this morning and wondering how you were doing with a new school year underway. Probably swamped with work. I treasure our brief conversations. Saw some awesome pics of the balloon festival the other day. Parker insists that we are going for sure next year and taking Diego. Have to find a motel that will take him with his kennel. Much love back to you and Craig. !END


  2. Tim
    Oct 06, 2013 @ 13:38:49

    Oh Sherry, I’m coming up from nearly constant study these past two weeks and looking for refreshment–and here you are! I find both groups you identify here are much more focused on what they don’t believe than what they do. The fundamentalists are perhaps more adept at pressing this agenda, as they frame their rhetoric as “the only way.” But the message at the heart of what they say is that all other ways are wrong–and that’s the message they’re hoping to deliver. When I encounter these sorts of discussions I try to press them to state their beliefs in a positive fashion: What do you believe? And then, Why do you believe that?

    Belief is such a personal thing that that gets both of us on the same level. And then the question becomes whether or not one can respect the other’s belief (and by extension, his/her right to believe as he/she does). If that can’t be respected, then the conversation needs to end right there. For me, it’s as simple as saying, “Suppose we talk about something else then?” That always confuses them, as they assume I’m pushing an agenda as well, and I’m not.

    I do love your stereogram analogy. It perfectly describes how two or more people can look at the same issue and see completely different things. Whether or not some of us can accept that such a phenomenon is possible is an entirely different–and often dismaying–matter.

    I’ve missed being here the past couple of weeks! It’s always a joy to swing by and hear what you’re thinking about!

    Blessings always,


  3. Terri
    Oct 07, 2013 @ 07:08:29

    Why do I believe in God? I think it has a lot to do with hope. I hope there is a God, an entity, an energy, a creator, a force, that is the underlying inspiration for all life – who yearns for all creation to be healthy and peace-filled, able to enjoy life. When we humans drive life into the dumpster with our selfish motivations I hope there is a God who seeks to inspire us to live more compassionate lives. Believing in God is not, for me, about certainty. But it is about hope.


    • Sherry
      Oct 07, 2013 @ 09:54:25

      I think it is for me as well Terri. I think in some sense it’s an even proposition, but life seems much more hopeful with God than without. It has nothing to do with “salvation” or an “afterlife” per se. It has to do with the belief that we may well not get to peaceful co-existence on our own, and I know we will with a God. Still, I too have had this “other way of knowing” experience and believe that once you have had that experience, it seems much more real in every way. Science may attempt to define it through chemical reactions, but I choose to be believe that we are only capable of these moments of true presence because there is something out there to really meet. 🙂 !END


  4. Thomas
    Oct 16, 2013 @ 07:02:44

    I loved the “stereogram” analogy!


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