Think about how we come to KNOW. For this musing, I am just working with five senses. We as humans have sight, hearing, tasting, touch, and smell. All that we know comes through one or several of the five senses. For instance, let’s assume we and others in the world are experiencing an encounter a “cup” for the first time. Keep in mind this is the first time all humans are experiencing the “cup” simultaneously in the world. (just play along) You can touch it, you can smell it, and you taste it, even though the contents might be more dominant. In any case, you come to know the “cup,” and you process that information in your mind. Next, you pass judgment on it, classify it, and when you discover others similar to it, you then categorize it. What you are doing is exploring the “essence” or the “nature” of the thing we call a “cup.” You are experiencing the “cupness.” Then you may at that moment or later down the road with more encounters, decide to pass “judgment.” Is this a good thing, a bad thing or am I indifferent? Now we humans need to communicate our experiences and share our knowledge of the “cup” and the “cupness” we encountered with others. But keep in mind, this is a human experience for the first time, we have not given it meaning, we might with others begin to discuss our experiences, and at some point, everyone involved expresses their experience either through symbols, words, or other verbal expressions, and we begin to describe what it means to us. We come to a point in time when we all agree on what the object is, and we give it meaning by now call it “CUP.” Keep in mind that “cup” didn’t scream out at us and say”hey dude call me “cup.” We continue to experience the cup daily and discover different sensations through our senses. We test, we share, we try different things with them. We check with others about their experiences, their perceptions, and judgments about the “cup.” With everyone’s help, we collectively shape our understanding about the cup, what it is and is not, what it can do and can not do, what are everyone’s distortions and perceptions regarding the “cup.”
I think you get the picture, and it helps us to step back and frame the situation we have as adults come to take for granted. How do we know and gain knowledge?
Perception, none of us would claim that our experience of the cup was the same universally. And “cups” look differently, in different sizes and shapes, yet we as humans have agreed it is a “cup.” When push comes to shove, we have to admit we don’t experience it the same as many in the world. Yet, we are all experiencing the “cup.” Some in the world may distort their experience, not that the experience was not real, but the perception gave new meaning to reality. Our senses are playing “tricks” on us and our experience. Sometimes we are not seeing exactly what others are seeing when they experience the “cup.”
So too with God. Where did you get all those “experiences” about God? What judgments have you made about God based on the experiences? The distortions? The perceptions? Who told you God exists? Why did you believe? Or not believe? How much of what you know is trust based?
Any direct contact with God? Now stop and ponder that for a few minutes. Direct contact should be possible if God exists.
For this week think about all the categories you put God or the lack of God into based on your experiences? What Judgments have you made about God? What perceptions have changed from childhood to adulthood?
We will pick it up from there next week