Friday, July 7, 2006

Missing Perception

Exodus 4:11
The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD?
I read a while back about an amazing thing called synesthesia. Synesthesia literally means "perceiving together," and is a phenomenon in which a person perceives things in one sense in response to stimuli in another sense. That's a terrible explanation, so here's an example: some people see specific colors associated with specific numbers and letters. That is, they read a sentence printed in black and white and perceive all the R's as being red, all the K's as being blue, etc. In other instances, people hear specific sounds for specific colors or taste certain things in response to reading certain words. Some people hear music in color.

Now, the amazing thing about this penomenon is that it isn't psychological, it's biological. I taste glazed donuts when I hear the Newsboys song "Shine," but that's Pavlovian conditioning, and it's fading. For a synesthete, this unique perception starts in infancy and the person experiences it their whole life and it doesn't change. In fact, most synesthetes at some point find out that other people don't see, smell, taste, hear things the same way, and are surprised. To a synesthete, it only seems natural that the word "stapler" tastes like butterscotch, or that adding a leg to a 'P' changes it from yellow to orange. For a long time, synesthesia was dismissed as delusion, but tests have been done that prove the consistency and reality of this ability. For instance, in one test, synesthetes who see numbers in color were asked to look at a page full of hundreds of numbers like the following and they were able to pick out all the 5's (there are 3) in a matter of mere seconds because they all stood out in bright red (or whichever color, it's different for each person).

13246813219413216840684976011324641321968746124106
98798412064984632121657610849610108416321413210203
64942012034987984613023169798749846132031984613620
20687964894123006347984416302203647978961320132169
69843201503849813203220646874984361032031984968163
02106787496412310320684984798794130320352699489416
32101649879616120641984123039686749641203202897463
12320303684813200306884413203006489946103203003284


Hover your mouse here.
It amazes me that a mere connection of neurons in the brain can make the rest of us seem like we are walking around half blind. It makes me want to experience what they can see that I can't.

I started attending Southern Baptist churches about nine months before I was born, and I became a Christian in 1989. I have spent most of the last 17 years trying to learn all of what it means to be a Christian and in some ways I know less now than I did when I started, but there has never been a time in my life when I did not know that God exists and that he is the one in control of the world. I see everything in the light of what I know about God, and so it is a shock to me when I remember that not everyone sees the world the same way I do. Not everyone knows and believes that God exists and loves them so much that he came in the form of his son Jesus and died for them to pay the debt for their sins, so that we could be with him eternally, rather than eternally without. I have known that for so long that it is an integral, inextricable part of who I am and how I perceive the world, but I can't truly relate to people who don't know that until I understand what it means to be blind to God.

2 Corinthians 4:4-6
The god of this age [Satan] has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
For Christians, our connection to God has been restored through God's grace and forgiveness, and we are to love God and obey his commands so that others will seek to experience the same connection. Our lives are one of the "tests" God uses to demonstrate to the world the reality of that connection.

Imagine being able to see music in color, and then imagine not being able to...that is what it means to be blind.
Matthew 5:16
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

John 8:12
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

Some very interesting links about synesthesia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synesthesia
http://web.mit.edu/synesthesia/www/

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1 Comments:

Blogger cate mcmillan said...

so if i saw two of the fives immediately but took a minute to realize the third, do i just have bad eyesight? and what is the spiritual impact of that? maybe that the mind is focused but the heart a little fuzzy??

Monday, July 10, 2006 5:50:00 PM  

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