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Optical Illusions

Suppose for a moment you were blindfolded and escorted into an empty room.  When the blindfolds were removed, you sensed that you were wearing a pair of glasses.  When you looked around you, everything appeared to be pink.  How would you know if the walls themselves were pink or only appeared to be pink because you might be wearing a set of pink glasses?  If you couldn’t remove the glasses for whatever reason and you couldn’t cheat by looking out of the sides of the lenses, you would never know the real color of the walls.

This might seem like an unusual experience, yet in a somewhat similar manner, an element of uncertainty enters into all of our knowledge of the world.  In order for us to know something, we first have to perceive it and then pass along the sensations to our brains for understanding.  But this understanding is based on the structure of the human mind and therefore we can’t necessarily assume that what we perceive is a true reflection of the real nature of the world.  (Are the walls pink or do we see them as pink?)

Looking at more walls won’t help because we would be using the same standard of comparison that may not have any basis in fact in the first place.  The problem is that our minds have a natural tendency to assume that all of the phenomenon of the world can be explained rationally.  The laws and principles of science are based on the way scientists perceive the likely effect of a set of causes.  But because these results are being analyzed by a human mind, we can still never be sure why a ball falls to the ground or if, in fact, it will continue to do so 100% of the time.

Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, one of the most brilliant writers and educators of the 19th century wrote,

“Without the belief in the spiritual aspect of the universe, scientists could never be sure that they are not deducing dream from dream and proving dream by dream.”

According to this, the reason we perceive a universe is because everywhere we look, in everything we sense, God fills in the blanks.  He allows us to feel, hear, see and smell only those things that He wants us to experience.

The conception of an orderly and meaningful existence, therefore, can only be based on the view that there is an all-powerful, all-knowing Creator and Ruler of the universe, Who sees true reality.  Scientists only assume that there is a rational world for us to experience, but they can’t prove it because, hey, they’re only human.

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Comments icon January 3, 2010


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