The Limitations of Perceptual Reality: Where is God

March 4, 1999, By: Timothy W. Shire


--I took a day to search for God,
--And found Him not. But as I trod
--By rocky ledge, through woods untamed,
--Just where one scarlet lily flamed,
--I saw His footprint in the sod.

--Then suddenly, all unaware,
--Far off in the deep shadows, where
--A solitary hermit thrush
--Sang through the holy twilight hush-
--I heard His voice upon the air.

--And even as I marvelled how
--God gives us Heaven here and now,
--In a stir of wind that hardly shook
--The poplar leaves beside the brook-
--His hand was light upon my brow.

--At last with evening as I turned
--Homeward, and thought what I had learned
--And all that there was still to probe-
--I caught the glory of His robe
--Where the last fires of sunset burned.

--Back to the world with quickening start
--I looked and longed for any part
--In making saving Beauty be . . . .
--And from that kindling ecstasy
--I knew God dwelt within my heart.

---By Bliss Carman

When senses fail us or perception conflicts with logic and what we consider knowledge are encountered, the test we must apply, just as scientists who when confronted with the unexplainable, we must consider the results. If there is tangible or detectable evidence then we can not ignore these consequences any more then we can deny any other portion of what we are determining to be, our reality. Though our language and corresponding syntactical formats tend to devalue evidentiary consequences without substantive corroboration that does not mean that what we have detected is necessarily less likely to be. (translation of last sentence: our words tend to downgrade things that are not supported with what we see but that does not allow us to ignore evidence of something)

For those of us who grew up with a half hour or so of Sunday School each week and a couple of weeks at Bible camp each summer, we have, to some extent, a much more limited and limiting view of what should be our innate spirituality. Though our Sunday School teachers and bible thumpers have outstanding intentions they have given us a remarkably stinted and narrow view of God. For as soon as one sets out to define anything it is necessary to limit that definition and the definition itself becomes a formidable encumbrance Genesis tells us the story as it relates to human beings, God and all things, but in that confining and word bound form of the knowledge of its time and experience, of some five thousand years ago.

Think of it this way, how would Moses have described creation today were he to have been raised in an exclusive and upper class society with all of today's benefits of education and knowing full well that his audience can all read and write, most have an education equal to his and have seen the Discovery channel and know that in 1969 Buzz Aldran and Neil Armstrong went for a stroll on the surface of the moon. Genesis would be a much different work and even though it might necessarily express some of the same sequences and conventions, Moses' insight would enormously alter the final product. Some of the precepts of the work include the thought that humans were made in God's own image and though that sound pretty flattering, it might also have some unsettling ramifications as were explored in Chariots of the Gods by Erich Von Daniken. This perception transcends God and mankind to a common physical entity
which makes the whole idea easier for some to swallow, but converts the concept of God to a much more limited being. For many people now and in the past, it seems necessary to quantify or embody a spiritual entity into a physiology or time space physical construct. If you can free yourself of that crutch, you have a much better chance of being able to look for and see God or manifestations of "Goddess".

When I set to work to write this, I wanted to open the door a crack so that the reader might look beyond what they memorized as children and try to see those words now as adult concepts with other more symbolic and creative meanings. I consider myself to have been extraordinarily fortunate that I did have a chance to attend Sunday School and Bible study classes and enter into debate of the implied, as opposed to the literal meaning, of scripture, but I am completely convinced that this pathway to awareness and spirituality, albeit interesting, may have been a restriction or impediment to high level considerations.

We humans are remarkable creatures, definitely animal, consuming vast amounts of our daily energy in looking after our physical survival needs and devoting a good portion of our lives to ensuring that our species continues, but we are also intellectual beings. As a child psychologist, I encountered children with vastly different capabilities and from what we might consider the smartest, to the most profoundly reduced in intellectual capability. It can be said with confidence that humans have amazing powers of thought. When you encounter an individual who appears to be less endowed with intellectual capability the most overwhelming awareness is that the limitation of communication has the most affect and the ability to process and consider input data is the very nature of what defines a human being. This observation has also been applied to non-humans and when chimpanzees were taught sign language they in turn taught each other that same skill. When you meet a dog you will discover a life form with a fully developed emotional response system able to work out outstandingly difficult problems.

So given that life is intelligent life, why are we so inclined to deny the capabilities of our nature and in so many religions rely upon "faith" and blind trust. The memorization and rout learning of scripture is handy in a linguistic environment but useless to further our growth of self awareness and insight. Knowing is learning through experience.

As we progress through life we will encounter people who for various reasons we do not like. There are others who are pretty downright offensive but if we go back to the issue of communication we will discover that once we learn about someone, no matter what a scoundrel has done, we will have a difficult time not liking every person we know. One of the most chilling things you will ever encounter is the black feeling of hate, it is surprisingly rare at the individual level but once seen it is unmistakable, yet such a strong emotion is measured only a fraction away from its opposite. The strongest condemnation we can have of people is for their actions not for them as individuals. When you come to realise this and know it to be true, you will have moved a big step toward knowing yourself better. We humans screw up, make mistakes and commit grievous errors, some of which can not be forgiven by us mortals, but that does not remove from us the ability to be compassionate and understanding. Ultimately we have no option but to love one another and that is one of the main reasons Christianity has been around for two thousand years apparently, that was his main message.

So where is God? No need for batteries or complex radar, God and Godliness is internal, it is the supreme positive nature in us and all living things. Don't for a moment accept that statement, you don't need me to tell you this, you have what is needed to reach your own conclusion. I once shocked a minister by asking him if he would consider Karl Reiner's work as the greatest piece of theological writing in this century. The minister scoffed at my suggestion but if you get a chance look again at what Karl Reiner had to say. Carl Reiner was a comedy writer for the Sid Caesar Show of Shows television programme and among his work was the screenplay for the movie starring George Burns, Oh God. Remember that the movie was made for entertainment but within it there are some gems including the main message God wants John Denver's character to pass on to the world. "You have all that you need and it does work."
This is the third in a three part series the first dealt with our actual senses and cognition of those senses.
second dealt with apparitions and black holes.