Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Experiencing Reality

Most mornings as I am getting ready to start the day I watch a few minutes of the weather channel in order to dress appropriately. The meteorologist will tell me what temperature it is outside, the humidity, chance for rain or storms, and even the pollutant level. The most precise details will be given of the conditions outside as the station’s expensive equipment gives him the latest facts about the weather. At this point, sitting on my couch, I haven’t experienced the truth of the report. I have been given purportedly true facts, but that’s all they are. If I never left my house that day that is how they would remain for me.


However, upon opening the door, stepping out into my yard, feeling the breezy 63 degree weather and the slight over cast of the sky I have now experienced the truth of the information given on the television. A new dynamic has taken place, I haven’t just a series of truth statements in my head, but my body has experienced them. I may not be able to tell its 63 degrees if the meteorologist hadn’t provided that information, but I could experience what 63 degrees feels like. I would then be experiencing the truth of 63 degrees on a cloudy day.


I recently went to see the movie Surrogates. In this movie all the people on the planet experience life through a robot. A person will purchase a very technologically advanced robot that looks like a perfect person with perfect agility and performance of all life’s work and pleasures. They will lay back in their chair or bed and hook up to a virtual system and live life without ever moving from their chair while their surrogate lives out their dreams each day. The idea was that no one would get hurt, if the surrogate got damaged sky diving a new unit would be purchased and the person would have experienced the virtual thrill of sky diving without ever leaving their bedroom.


Something goes terribly wrong and life as humanity knows it is shaken. I will leave out the details so as not to ruin the movie. At one point, however, as people emerge from their homes into sunlight they wake up from virtual reality. They experience touch and sound and feelings in the real world rather than through their virtual subconscious. Experience of reality occurs again as a novel thing and a man touching his wife’s cheek softly with his hand is so much more glorious than any of the greatest dreams lived out through a surrogate.


There is something innate to humanity that we have to experience life. Virtual experience is not good enough. We need to experience reality. We need not only to read books about adventures; we want to go on our own adventure. We need not only read about exciting places to visit, we want to go there. We don’t only want to decide on a spouse by reading a bunch of facts about who they are, we want to experience who they are and fall in love and enjoy life together.


The question is, then, why do we forget this when it comes to matters of God? Why is God only a potential fact that matters not either way? Why is He relegated to what we believe in our minds, but not understood as someone, if real, to be experienced in the depths of our person? It would be such a waste of time if all conversion or salvation was about was changing someone’s mind to believe a different set of facts about life as if that’s all there was to it. Some people have only experienced Christianity as a social club of people who believe a set of doctrines about life and try to live by them. Such Christianity is understandably found wanting and dismal. Such a reality would have nothing to offer anyone.


However, what if, it’s not just a series of facts akin to a meteorologist telling someone the weather report? What if it can be experienced like stepping outside your door and feeling the cold air of a coming blizzard or the warmth of a summer day. What if God isn’t looking for people to adhere to certain facts, but to know Him, experience His love and have a home in Him? What if our knowledge of Him grows not only in learning about Him, but in first hand experience? What if there is something amazing about life that is still left to experience that is greater than anything the natural world can offer a person?


Anytime I speak of the existence of God or the reality of Christianity, I am not talking only about a set of ideas that one needs to intellectually ascribe to and all their hearts desire will be satisfied. No, I am talking about ideas that lead to experiencing the reality of the glory of God. I am very much concerned about the reality of things, and the truthfulness of things, and if I hadn’t experienced God I wouldn’t be telling you it was possible. But I have experienced Him, I have seen His mighty works, I have felt the life that flows from Him into me and I have shared that love with others and seen them transformed. I come not with opinions, but with truth, truth I have experienced with awe and wonder as my soul leaps at the joy of His reality.

15 comments:

CyberKitten said...

karla said: There is something innate to humanity that we have to experience life. Virtual experience is not good enough. We need to experience reality.

We saw Surrogates last week. I thought it was OK. Flawed in too many ways to warrent buying it on DVD but entertaining enough for a few hours.

It did portray an interesting idea in an interesting way but, like a significant number of Hollywood SF films it was, at its heart, rather anti-technology. It was interesting however, that those who rejected the new technology were not exactly living an ideal life but were basically those who (it seemed) could simply not afford the new synthetic bodies.

Anyway - I think that if it was possible to enter a new world, either of your own making or designed for mass consumption and whilst there it felt totally real that people would not only log on in their millions but a significant number would spend their whole lives there. It would not overly surprise me if our entire civilisation eventually moved on-line and became 'virtual' with people being born and dying plugged into the system (basically The Matrix without the bad machines who put us there). If virtual reality is better than plain reality - and I see no reason why it can't be - then the battle is already lost.

I don't think that people need or want reality and it seems obvious that they do a great deal to get away from it whenever they can in many different ways. If they are given the choice of a 'reality' made more to their desires I'm certain that most people would choose that rather than this real reality.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

I think I just saw Schrödinger's cat run past me, twice.

CyberKitten said...

Mike - [laughs]

Actually I went through a time where I was having lots of Deja Vu. Nothing about cats though! Maybe The Matrix was upgrading to Windows from DOS and was being constantly patched?

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

That's the great thing about The Matrix, it could all be true and we might never know. ;-)

CyberKitten said...

It would indeed be impossible to tell - unless you could 'dodge bullets'. Could be rather terminal though if you didn't believe enough (or too much).

Don't try this at home kids!

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Wait, you guys can't doge bullets? I though everybody could that.

CyberKitten said...

When you're ready - you won't have to.... [rotflmao]

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

I need to watch that movie again. It's been too long and muy fiance has never seen it.

Karla said...

Cyber "I don't think that people need or want reality and it seems obvious that they do a great deal to get away from it whenever they can in many different ways."

Notice in the movie people were trying to experience reality without being limited by age, injury, handicaps, or pain. So the object was still to experience reality. But their attempt to do so virtually wasn't satisfying. So the aim was still to experience a reality without pain and natural limitations by the aid of technology. What if the real was devoid of danger, pain, handicap, imperfection, and we could experience it directly without resorting to escapism?

Karla said...

lol Mike, I've gotten behind in my comments and woefully behind on responding to comments on your blog. I'm going to jump in where I can over there in a minute.

cl said...

Good post. I think you perhaps inadvertently touched upon a source of what's possibly the biggest chasm for believers and atheists to cross: "Give us evidence," the atheist demands, yet the evidence they need and want most is this "experience of this reality" that you allude to in the post - and that's not something like an intellectual series of facts or a set of objective data, that a believer can simply reproduce at will. Rather, it requires the compliance of a living soul. Atheists want to walk outside and experience 63 degrees, not just hear the weatherman's report.

Karla said...

Well put CL. Unexperienced truth is still true, but has little to no affect upon us.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: Notice in the movie people were trying to experience reality without being limited by age, injury, handicaps, or pain. So the object was still to experience reality.

What they were trying to experience was perfection - not reality. If you want to feel reality you don't wear gloves to do so. Clearly the one's using the surrogates didn't want very much to do with reality and spent most of their waking hours avoiding it.

karla said: What if the real was devoid of danger, pain, handicap, imperfection, and we could experience it directly without resorting to escapism?

Sounds good. Depending on what you mean by 'imperfection' of course..... and there are people who like danger and seek it out.... but generally it sounds like a better world....

Karla said...

Cyber "Sounds good. Depending on what you mean by 'imperfection' of course..... and there are people who like danger and seek it out.... but generally it sounds like a better world..."


I believe that such a world exist in God's heavenly Kingdom and that He has made it possible to restore this physical reality to be such a world.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: I believe that such a world exist in God's heavenly Kingdom and that He has made it possible to restore this physical reality to be such a world.

Yes, I know you do. I don't.