Friday, November 5, 2010

Two Views of Reality

Pablo Picasso. Portrait of Dora Maar. Oil on Canvas. 1937
Attending the excellent Picasso exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum got me thinking about seeing multiple sides of things simultaneously. In several of Picasso’s paintings like “Portrait of Dora Maar” the viewer can simultaneously see the front and side of the subject. I feel the same way when it comes to interpreting events. The left over skeptical side of me says that agents act of their own accord and that natural events occur because they are impelled by Newtonian physics (or perhaps Quantum Mechanics). The newer Christian side of me says that sometimes God may intervene in the universe.

David Hume wrote, "But if the spirit of religion join itself to the love of wonder, there is an end of common sense." He argued that humans are gullible and fallible, that they try to ascribe supernatural explanations to events that can be explained by empirical evidence. There are times where that could be very well be true, but at the same time it may be true that our perception of reality may be limited because we don’t have the capability to observe the workings of the supernatural.

It is also possible that God acts through tweaked natural causes. The best example of this is the possibility that God set the universal constants to fine tune the universe to make it amenable to life. Also, God could put thoughts into you head such as the need to double check that you locked the door in order delay you a few moments to avert a possible fatal collision on the way to work. Do we have ability to perceive such things? Of course not, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t happen.

Sometimes I think that supernatural explanations are the best ones. Take the explanation of the success of the early church. Skeptics come up with elaborate explanations about Jesus’ resurrection such as the body was stolen or that it was all made up by the apostles. The problem with these explanations is that they don’t explain why the early church didn’t implode after their Messiah died. Why didn’t the church fold under the intense pressure of Jerusalem and Rome. Why did the apostles let themselves be martyred for proclaiming the name of Christ if they knew he was a fraud? The simplest explanation is that he really did rise from the dead as was claimed.

In most cases I think that rain storms occur because of low pressure systems and people do evil things because they have the free will to do so. The natural laws that God formed rule most of our daily events, but sometimes I think that God may intervene when He deems it necessary. If God created the natural laws then He can certainly break them. When looking at daily events they seem as enigmatic as a cubist painting, they very well could be natural events, but I’m open to the other side that says that there may be more going than it first appears.

No comments:

Post a Comment