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Through a Glass, Darkly

By Carl S ~

God believers live in the world without actually seeing it, because "this world" is interpreted through the lens of superstition. There are standard answers when beliefs car-crash into reality: "We can't question the wisdom of our god, there’s a higher purpose in this; There's a reason for everything and we can't know it; It happened to teach us a lesson, like, to be humble." And, one of my favorites, "Someday, we'll know." It’s a regular diet of junk food for the soul they consume.

Blame that last "explanation” on the self-conflicted St. Paul, who wrote of humans experiencing the world as, "We now see through a glass darkly." But, in Paul’s view, after the believer is dead, everything will be revealed. THEN believers will completely understand all the good, bad and indifferent explanations about life! In other words, THEY shall be as gods (whoops!). Wait until after they're dead? Sure, that makes it easy, don't trouble your mind. Don’t try to cure AIDS or cancer, or try to understand and deal with all the other unnecessary sufferings of mankind now. Don't trouble yourself to be sensitive about these things; they're in "the hands of god," and you'll understand later. Now, THAT'S Novocain for the mind.

The “clarity" of belief of the faithful is the clarity of "in vino veritas," looking through the wine glass in a drunken stupor. Yeah, it all makes sense when you see things soused. So, your friend is dying of cancer, children are suffering and dying of preventable diseases, and a tsunami drowns thousands, but "god has a plan," or "They're in a better place now." "Someday we’ll understand." Are they listening to themselves?

There may be an explanation why the faithful don't think much about what they believe. Maybe you have heard that believers go through life with blinders on, but that doesn’t sound quite right. After all, blinders force an animal to look straight ahead, without side distractions, but the path ahead is 20/20.

This is an example not of the blind leading the blind so much as the blurry-eyed leading each other, and accepting the same distorting, muddled "vision." Think about that "seeing through darkly" thing; darkly, as in distorted, smeared, dirty. That’s dogma, where nothing can be seen clearly with theological prescriptions. Now it makes sense why believers keep bumping into what should be clear and obvious. This is an example not of the blind leading the blind so much as the blurry-eyed leading each other, and accepting the same distorting, muddled "vision."

Give a believer a pair of the clean, crystal-clear glasses of reality, and the brightness is too much, too sharp, the colors too bright. The believer reacts like a hearing-impaired person (like me), when first reacting to a digital hearing aid. Hearing impairment is a condition one becomes accustomed to over time as a part of life; one gets used to hearing only parts of sentences, to not hearing the highs and lows of music's delights, and the colors of speech. When such people first try on a hearing aid, there's a sudden realization of just how much they've been missing, they are overwhelmed by the “noise,” and many throw their hearing aids in the dresser drawer because they make the world too loud and uncomfortable.

The lesson here is that maybe this is why believers don't get it. They live with blurred vision, even choosing it. They don’t how the real world works because they can’t see it clearly, and don’t want to, because the reality is too bright and clear and uncomfortable. Religious distortion is their security blanket. It’s just too scary to come out from under it and into the light.

How sad to approach the world with a completely unnecessary handicap and be missing so much! Living with the belief that one must die in order to “understand,” is to waste one’s life, the only life we have. Carl Sagan’s widow said, “He did not want to believe. He wanted to understand.” And he understood much, and passed it on.

Those who have taken those dirty, distorting glasses off, and kept them off, understand.