She sat as she usually did at the beginning of one of her more philosophical lectures, with her one thigh resting on the edge of her desk. When she brushed her short dark hair behind her ears, tucking the strands neatly into the arms of her slim spectacles, as she did now, it somehow lured onlookers, in this instance, her students, to sit forward in anticipation. It was her way of readying herself, and us, for what was to come. She interlocked her fingers in her lap and with a vaguely shaky voice, she began.
“How hard is it, to believe in the invisible… how hard have we tested our perception of invisibility? An ‘invisible God’, for instance? Why, why is he invisible in the first place? And is the concept of invisibility even believable, I mean, it’s been the subject of many art pieces - films, scientists have actually been working on an actual ‘invisibility cloak’. But can there be any truth to this concept, anything more than fiction? Is it yet another fruitless pursuit of some impossible goal?”
She turned her gaze to the open window now.
“The more we know, the more we clutter ourselves. Travel to a rural town, experience a slower paced life and it will begin to lend some appreciation, not only for our creature comforts, but also to how simple life can be, or once was. I’ve met people whose only concern, quite literally, amounted to “when was the rain coming?” – that was and still is their main cause of stress. I’ve met farmers who’ve prayed for rain…
I started in this manner because I want you to take a mental step back for a moment and think about life differently, to clear the clutter of bills, work, study, even family, from your plate, and let’s just think about life… the roots of it.
When it comes down to the essentials, it becomes a matter of perception, because your life is less cluttered, you get to focus on the real things. I think of rural dusty towns because on such outskirts you become most aware of life in general.” She said her two fists together, “You’re conscious of it all the more, and just like that your perspective changes because quite literally, you’re relying more of your five senses to interact with your surroundings. City life often involves things or people jumping out at you, asking for your attention, making a noise, shrouding your vision… assaulting your senses. In remote places, that is removed, and you’re suddenly aware of the sound of your own footsteps, natural smells and aromas of nature, the cleaner air, being able to see to the untouched distance, and after a while you’re perhaps aware of the sound of your own breathing, because it is the only sound punctuating the air.
You become fully aware of your own existence because now that everything, family, friends, TV, wifi, noise, is all gone and nothing is begging for your attention, everything around you just is. So your own existence… it feels, strangely “close” because now your senses are required to fetch stimuli from around you." She grabbed fists of air.
It’s simple; it’s how we perceive life. How we see this material world before us. Our senses, are our gateway to this world, allowing us to experience it. What we sense, governs what we determine to be invisible or not. The ancient peoples and rural cultures all had a sense of the spiritual, yet city life has diminished that sense by simply droning it out. We’ve become desensitized on a spiritual level.
Think about this a moment: Dogs have more powerful olfactory sensors, said to be 1000 times more powerful than ours. So their sense of smell is richer, and broader, detecting odours that we can’t. They’re able to hear certain frequencies that we cannot.
Crustaceans, in particular, the Mantis Shrimp, has one of the most elaborate visual systems ever discovered. They’re considered to have the most complex eyes of the animal kingdom. Some species possess 16 different photoreceptor types, of which 12 are for analysing colour. What does this mean? Well we only have 4 visual pigments of which 3 are used for colour perception. The rainbow stems from 3 colours. What this means is that they not only possess a better visual spectrum than we do, but it’s even better than our best technology can offer. It easily outperforms Blu-Ray optical technology.
Mantis Shrimps can perceive more colours than we can. Does this mean there are more colours than we know? It makes sense if there are, since most of the light spectrum is not visible to us. What’s certain is that they perceive more than us, including ultraviolet light, and even polarization vision.
What is clear to me is that even by studying the material world there’s a whole lot more than meets the eye… or ears and nose - not forgetting taste. So already we know, or are aware of the unknown… sorry to use this once laughed at idiom. But this is the known unknown…
So by considering the invisibility of God, specifically addressing people who seem sure that there is no God, or spiritual/supernatural realm, we can already ascertain that even within our humble finite existence, we cannot see all there is to see, or hear all there is to hear… and this is about what we know exists out there. To us, they are known invisible entities. There are definite elements that exist outside our realm of perception.
Now, spare another thought for the invisible world of . . . your mind.”
Her head cocked to one side, “Wait what? – Yes,” She nodded, looking at our faces, “everything happening inside your mind, your thoughts, your imagination and your dreams. ALL this takes place outside, or apart from the natural material world, and are, by their nature, invisible to others. They are intangible.
So already we’ve established 'perceivable' unknowns or invisibilities, and thence indefinable invisibilities. Again, these are invisible elements we know exist.
Now think about this:
If you’re in an accident, you may lose limbs, have an organ transplant, become paralyzed…" She waited, "the point is, that despite these things, you would still remain who you are, in mind, your personality… the essential things that make you, YOU. And guess what, it’s those invisible things that make us different. I’ve seen a couple of medical cases where patients lost portions of their brain, and though their lives were adversely affected, they still remain essentially who they are as people.
So what makes us who we are? This is the existential question, because even through all that I’ve mentioned, there’s still more to us. A relative of mine recently suffered a stroke which has drastically impaired her speech. As a result, she could only enunciate two words: 'Willy boy' – this incidentally is what she used to call her now deceased husband. So of all the words in the two languages that she was able to speak, somehow her brain and mouth 'chose' those words as their default setting as she now learns how to speak again. Is this due to habit, muscle memory, or Love, or all of the above? Either way, its food for thought.
We are already more than what we can perceive.
Is believing in an “invisible God” really that hard?
Ask yourself this: Is your idea of God too ‘provincial’? –
The Bible is, well, its like a Vladimir Nabokov quote – ‘not like one wave... and to experience it does not mean you’ve grasped the whole sea. To truly understand it, would mean getting in the boat, going out to open waters until you can’t see land anymore. You then experience the waves that the sea can muster, and in the midst of it, find out what God’s Grace is really about… but still, you would be in the dark as to the teeming life beneath the surface, and the endless undercurrents...
Many want to think of God as a simple timekeeper, who wound the universe’s clock, and then let it tick on,” she wafted her hand, “leaving it be, to run its course. But no, when we were created, the first of us, we were created holy, and righteous to stand in God’s presence – it was only Good.
So what is Holy? – It means to belong to, or derived from, or associated with - a divine power. Something sacred. Regarded with veneration or specificity. Something reverent.
But we disobeyed God, and thence removed ourselves from holiness, from God’s presence, as we descended into sin.
And what is Sin? - A condition of estrangement from God, resulting from such disobedience. Romans 14:23 “… and whatever is not from faith is sin” – thus we are born into it, because we are born separated from God – we’re on opposing sides.
But this creator of the universe, who sits on his throne in heaven, then stepped off that throne, to be born of a woman, and live amongst us, knowing full well what would happen. He knew he would be killed. But God planned this since our fall in Genesis 3. He planned it perfectly. He chose to dwell among us, to demonstrate his love… and true love is sacrificial – caring not for oneself, but for others.
And Sacrifice? - A Relinquishment of something at less than its presumed value. === Imagine you were sentenced to death for a crime you were guilty of - which we all are, in this life - and someone came, and they said they loved you… even though we did not deserve the love, and they said they would take your place,to be executed in your stead. THIS is the type of love God has for us.
God didn’t just choose to die, he chose to be beaten, tortured, laid bare and humiliated… reduced to a bleeding chunk of ripped flesh nailed to a wooden cross. - When this was prophesied in the Old Testament, this method of death, and punishment, hadn’t even been invented yet.
God not only humbled himself, but Jesus subjected himself to hours of pain for our sake.
It would be simple for God to show up and exercise his power, much like the miracles he performed throughout the Bible, with the same universe-creating power, making it obvious to us that he is the one true God, the almighty, brandishing his majesty in a visual feast of splendour and authority, essentially asserting that man choose to follow him, or choose death.
But instead, God chose death first, overcame it, and now offers his hand gently, to follow him. God does want obedience, yes, like a father wants from his child, but he doesn’t want to enslave us, or to force us. He cannot make us Love him, because that is not true love.
Read the Book properly, and you’ll find that it is in fact a love story, with a hero, fighting for us.
The facts are that historians are unanimous. There was a man named Jesus, and he lived, and died, under the rule of Pontias Pilate.
The bone of contention is whether or not he rose again. If he did not, then the entire Christian faith is based on a lie. In fact it would then mean that Jesus lied, since he said he would rise again, as it is written in Mark 10:34, Luke 9:22 and Matt 16:21.
In fact, the majority of sceptics who studied history and the Bible, to search for evidence, came out of it a Christian. It could be claimed that the ones who were not converted, were never sceptics to begin with, but were rather cynics who presented no evidence to back up their claims that the Bible Story is false. Bertrand Russell admits his take on Jesus was, and I quote 'not concerned with historical facts'. Even outspoken critic Friedrich Nietzsche referred to Jesus as 'the only one true Christian' – whilst the Hindu religious leader Dayanand Saraswati made the wildly ridiculous claim that Jesus is 'a hot-tempered person destitute of knowledge and who behaved like a wild savage' – which he said without producing any evidence.
So what we have, is historical evidence, and specifically a first generation of martyrs, who either saw what they claimed to see, or they were lying. All of them could choose to end their suffering, instead they chose to die for their belief.
Understand… this is not one man’s testimony, this is the core testimony of Twelve men. Or shall I say thirteen, for after Judas Iscariot killed himself, the Apostles elected Matthias to replace him, and thence there was Apostle Paul. Both of these men died for their faith. So there was twelve apostles who died for their testimony of Jesus. Only Apostle John lived to be an old man, though he endured torture and beatings in his life time. Thus they fulfill Revelations 21:14, where John writes about the names of the Twelve on the twelve foundations of the New Jerusalem.
So what does all this have to do with an Invisible God? Simple. These are the signs, the evidence of things unseen. The 'knowns'. Are we to suppose that what we see with our human eyes are all that is there? Let us think about that for a moment. We are claiming that all that our human eyes can see, is the extent of existence. And we do not even know how the human eye works. That is to say we don’t even fully understand the mechanism that allows us to perceive the world around us, and yet we have the audacity to claim “This is all there is”.
Primitive men, or people of older times, in rural places, believed in a spiritual realm. It was part of them. Yet modern man has sought to eliminate this aspect of life. Secularism has sought it educate spirituality out of us, to show that it was simply a reflection of the primal uneducated thought patterns. This of course makes the false assumption that you cannot have both spirituality and intellect. And yet, intellects have failed to tear down the Bible. Whether you are an intellect or a simple man, the battle is always in the mind. This is why it is written in Luke 24:45 – “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the scriptures.
Our physical bodies are visible, yet that which comprises who we really are, our mannerisms, character, personality and thought patterns… these are all invisible. We live finite lives, yet what we are made of, mentally and spiritually, is not finite.
Stepping aside from Jesus Christ for a moment, we can reason that God being 'invisible' as we understand invisibility, is simply because our natural finite human eyes cannot perceive something as vast as a creator of the entire universe. Something so immense cannot fit into this world. Yet he ‘inserted’ himself into his creation a number of times in subtle ways. Moses beheld a burning bush, and as a result he had to wear a veil because his face was glowing due to the encounter he had. Every heavenly encounter in the Bible comes with the words 'DO NOT BE AFRAID'. Because we, as humans, have three principle fears," she held up three fingers which she lowered one at a time as she listed them "the unknown; that which we cannot understand; and lastly, the truth.
Spirituality, the supernatural... ticks off all three.
To believe in God, you need to have an open mind.