Repost: Making the Spiritual World Real

©2009 Gary W. Priester – Image used by permission of the artist

Is the spiritual world real? Yes. Can I prove it. No, of course not. But I think I can offer here an explanation that at least explains why belief in the spiritual world is plausible, and not counter to reason. At the risk of sounding immodest, I believe that what you are about to read represents the best thinking I have done thus far in my life on the subject of spiritual things. It is quite simply my favorite of all my original ideas.

I am a teacher.  My goal in life is to take concepts and ideas that can be difficult to understand, and make them accessible to people.  A few months ago, in an email conversation with an atheist friend of mine, I came up with a way of explaining the spiritual world that may not convince atheists to become theists, but I think can at least help them see why belief itself is valid.  I also think this is a good way of helping believers through times of difficulty and doubt.

The image above is a stereogram.  Stereograms are pictures that are not what they appear to be.  On the surface they can look like almost anything, but if you look at them long enough, stare kind of into them and kind of past them, (go ahead, try it!) a whole other 3D reality emerges and once you see it, it’s as clear as could be.  This is not magic, though it appears to be.  The truth is that the dots in the picture above have been placed in the way they are specifically so that the richer image inside can emerge if a person is looking at it the right way.  There are some people, I understand, who will never be able to see the richer pictures inside a stereogram.  Therefore, they will never have a single bit of evidence beyond the testimonies of those who have seen.

Among those who do see, some see with great ease and others see with great difficulty.  And for the sake of the analogy, let’s say that the picture in the stereogram isn’t of a dinosaur or a picnic basket, but an incredible 3D Rorschach inkblot.  In other words, something extremely real hidden in the plain random dots on the canvas, but then once a person sees it, people might be inclined to impose their own understandings as to what the image is.  No debate whatsoever that it is real and that the shape itself is exactly the same for everyone who looks at it, but people will take different things away from it when they look at the picture.  But nonetheless, they would be seeing, in spite of the protests of those who either do not see or simply have not seen yet.

Some would say, “I saw a frog.”  Others would say, “I saw breasts.”  Others might say, “I saw a house,” and others, “I saw what looked like random shapes and patterns.”  Of course that’s what’s actually there. So the person who gives what seems to be the least clear description may be telling you most accurately what is actually there.

But what would you make of someone who refused to even try to see?

Continue Reading »