it all depends on what your definition of “is” is…

“The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words.”

“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” – Philip K. Dick, “How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later”

Sitting in my living room is an entertainment armoire.  It is golden pine.  It takes up a certain amount of space.  But wait.  It’s partially pine, but a lot of it is particle board.  On top of that, it has quite a bit of plastic, and metal screws.  On top of that, at the atomic level, it is mostly empty space.  At second thought, it’s a cabinet, so it is mostly empty space anyway.  And really, it’s not so much golden, as it is multiple shades of yellow.  There are also reds and browns.  And when you get right down to it, it’s only an entertainment armoire because I put a TV in it.  If I put it in my basement and filled it with junk it’d just be a storage cabinet.  And while we’re at it, this room is only my living room because it’s where I hang out and watch TV.  It could just as easily be a bedroom.   And it’s “my” because I signed some papers and send the bank some money every month.  It’s more like the bank owns it, and I’m renting to own.

I could go further, but I think you get the idea.  This is one small example of the ways in which our words define our reality.  How does this apply when we talk about God?  How does it apply when we speak of “us” and “them” and anything at all?  When I speak of my entertainment center, the only thing I have a hard time going back on is the fact that it takes up a certain amount of space.  There is something there.  It has qualities that we can discuss.  It has qualities like color and shape and size.  We can discuss them and get a decent picture of the reality of this armoire.  But they can never be the full reality of the cabinet.  A photograph of the Grand Canyon can never convey the reality.  As Alfred Korzybski said, “The map is not the territory.”

Our words about God, or anything else for that matter, while useful in getting the general idea, should never be confused with who God really is.  We each overlay certian ideas to our image of God.  But we must never confuse that with the reality of God.  Alan Watts said, “…a person who is fanatic in matters of religion, and clings to certain ideas about the nature of God and the universe, becomes a person who has no faith at all.”  The point being that we are clinging to a god that we can control by labeling.  A faith in a true God means that we have to be willing to let go of ideas about Him that turn out not to be true.  This is one of the reasons we have the Holy Spirit, to guide us and correct our ideas and presuppositions.  Beyond that is where the Bible sits.  The Spirit will never tell you anything that contradicts God’s Word.  Study the Word, open your heart and mind to the Spirit, and you will be one step closer to something that doesn’t go away when you stop believing it.

” A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered.  Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” – Proverbs 17:27-28

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About Andrew

The Universe is Round. View all posts by Andrew

5 responses to “it all depends on what your definition of “is” is…

  • L.L. Barkat

    Andrew, I totally love the opening here. The continue peeling back, or pushing forward… the unwrapping, the flipping over of philosophical coins and the sound of them tap, tap, tapping in my brain.

  • Romanós

    And I totally love the closing, “Beyond that is where the Bible sits. The Spirit will never tell you anything that contradicts God’s Word. Study the Word, open your heart and mind to the Spirit, and you will be one step closer to something that doesn’t go away when you stop believing it.”

    Foundational thinking built around a single foundational thought, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” You have raised this thought to a higher level, a spiritual level, by your God-breathed words.

    Axios!

  • Andrew

    And I totally love both of your comments. Encouraging words from people who I admire and respect. It does a world of good on a day where my demons won’t let me be.

    God bless you both!

  • L.L. Barkat

    Just dropping in to say hi…

    Hi!

  • let your light shine… « metanoia

    […] February 3, 2010 Andrew Leave a comment Go to comments I wrote a while back about my entertainment center.  In that post I discussed the difficulty we have in defining reality.  The entertainment center […]

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