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The painful truth about Herbert W. Armstrong, Garner Ted Arrmstrong and the Worldwide Church of God

Articles Pertaining To Herbert W. Armstrong, Garner Ted Armstrong and The Worldwide Church of God

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My Spiritual Blindness

By Retired Prof

Or what does a believer share in common with an unbeliever?
2 Corinthians 6:15 (New English Bible)

I have read in scientific articles that some flowers display patterns visible only to bees
and birds. Those creatures possess eyes sensitive to ultraviolet light; since human eyes
can’t see such short wavelengths, we are blind to the full beauty of such flowers.

The friends I hunt birds with tell me that woodcocks produce a twittering noise with their
wings when our dogs flush them. I have never heard that twittering; my ears are deaf to such
high-frequency sounds.

In matters of the spirit I find myself in a similar situation. My religious friends and
relatives say they can clearly sense (if not literally see) their spiritual connection to
god and all of his creation, and they tell me they are regularly guided and encouraged by
the voice of their personal savior.

I must be blind to spiritual wavelengths and deaf to spiritual frequencies, because I have
never seen nor heard the things they speak of. I can get only vague inklings of what they
mean by the words “spirit” and “spiritual.” When they warn me that I will never satisfy my
need to feel a deep “spiritual connection” to the universe until I make my own “spiritual
journey,” I am at a loss. The spiritual path is invisible to me, and if there really is some
spiritual voice offering to guide me along it, I can’t hear it any better than the
twittering of woodcock wings.

Fortunately, disabilities don’t always impose handicaps. I manage to shoot as many woodcocks
as my friends do by listening for the low-pitched flutter their wings make and staying alert
for unheard birds to flash into view. I can recognize a black-eyed Susan as well as a bee
can even though some of its beauty is hidden from me. As a matter of fact, some disabilities
offer advantages. My hunting buddy who is color-blind can spot dead birds on the ground
better than the rest of us because he is not so easily fooled by their camouflage.

On broader problems too I recognize that my knowledge of the universe is limited to what my
physical senses (sometimes augmented by instruments) can reveal about my material
surroundings. The name for me and other persons who acknowledge this limitation is
“materialist.” In this context the term doesn’t mean we have an unseemly greed for material
goods (though some of us do), only that we despair of explaining adequately how the world
works except by reference to material causes. Since I can neither see the spiritual light
that illuminates my place in the universe nor hear the spiritual voice that guides me toward
it, to reach a sense of connection I have to grope my way from material object to material
object. But I still get there.

Let me be specific. You know that Christians use the rite of Communion, or the Eucharist, to
betoken their connection to god. The wafer and the wine symbolize (or for some believers,
actually become) the body and blood of Jesus. If you think about it, you realize that no
physical relationship can be more intimate than that in which one material object merges
with another so thoroughly that their atoms commingle and link into new molecules. That’s
what happens when an organism digests parts of other organisms. Although Christians might
not express the process in just that way, their intuitive grasp of the physical union
permits the Eucharist to express how complete the spiritual union with their savior is felt
to be.

I feel just as connected, though not to a savior, and though the occasion for feeling so is
not limited to a special ceremony once a week or once a year involving specially sanctified
bread and wine.

Here’s how I think. My body consists of atoms of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen,
phosphorous, calcium, iron, and so on. Before those atoms became part of me, they made up
parts of wheat, potatoes, steers, cauliflower, peaches, chickens, corn, beans—all the plants
and animals that my food has come from over the years. Earlier they belonged to previous
generations of plants and animals, including people. This is reincarnation, you see, in the
purely chemical sense, the strictly material sense. Occasionally those elements would spend
a good bit of time just resting in the earth or suspended in the air or water until some
plant snagged them again and reintroduced them into the nutrient stream that flows from
living thing to living thing. Iron atoms in the hemoglobin in my blood once coursed through
the veins of dinosaurs; a couple of eons before that, they fertilized blue-green algae in
Precambrian seas. Trace the generations back far enough, and you find that more or less the
same supply of atoms has been cycling and recycling in a layer a few miles thick ever since
3.8 billion years ago, when the most complex and diverse biological community on the planet
was a mat of anaerobic bacterial scum. Scientists predict that those atoms will keep on
flowing in the nutrient stream billions of years into the future, until the sun bloats,
morphs into a red giant star, and boils the oceans away. So when I eat a meal—any meal—I
feel connected to all other living things that ever were or ever will be.

And not just living things, either. Those nutrient atoms came from our planet; they spewed
out of its volcanoes, eroded from its primordial rocks, dispersed in its atmosphere, and
collected in its seas. The stream they flow in regularly pools up anew in those places. So
when I eat a meal—any meal—I feel connected to the earth itself.

And not just the earth. Our sister planets and the star we orbit are all made out of
essentially the same stuff, in different proportions. What’s more, the sun is fusing
hydrogen and helium into heavier atoms just like most of those that constitute us; that
fusion is what pours out the energy that makes stars shine. Without the continuous stream of
light and heat, no life could exist. It’s not just the energy, either. The material that
makes up you and me and the solar system as a whole has condensed from atoms synthesized in
the fiery bowels of previous generations of stars and blasted into space when they exploded
as supernovae. We life forms are quite literally made of stardust. So when I eat a meal—any
meal—I feel connected to the heavens.

And not just the heavens as they are today. With instruments, scientists have looked farther
and farther out into space, and because light takes a long time to get from there to here,
the farther out they look, the farther back they see in time. They can see quasars that
formed when great masses of material fell together and collapsed into black holes. Farther
back, they can see small galaxies in the act of merging, bringing those masses of material
together. Farther back still, they can see such galaxies as they formed, glowing bright in
the throes of birthing new stars. Farthest back of all, they can see a dim microwave glow
permeating the sky—the cooling ember of what has come to be called the Big Bang, a colossal
burst of cosmic heat that condensed into infinitesimal packets of energy/mass, some of which
linked up to form subatomic particles that coalesced into atoms of hydrogen and helium,
clouds of which fell together to become those hot roiling stars that produced, stellar
generation by stellar generation, the stuff that constitutes all the material objects around
us today, including the ones that nourish me. So when I eat a meal—any meal—I feel connected
all the way back to the very origin of material things.

What lies behind that origin I cannot see with my personal eyes, nor has any scientist ever
devised an instrument to detect it.

Many people speculate. Some materialists theorize that Big Bangs recur in a more or less
regular cycle, eternally. Others suggest that universes erupt continuously, spontaneously,
in a kind of cosmic froth, so that ours is only one among an infinite sea of “bubbles,” with
each bubble operating on its own set of physical laws, perhaps entirely different from those
governing any other. Deists look behind the Big Bang and report a god who created the
universe and left it alone to play itself out by its intrinsic rules. Fundamentalists see a
god who created our universe specifically to house humankind, and who maintains a personal
relationship with us (according to some, the whole human race; to others, only the holiest
members of their own sect). Hasidic Jews say that “G-d” the creator permeates and sustains
every part of the universe throughout eternity. This activity, called “immanence,” means
that “G-d” is continuously and eternally willing everything into existence, including the
very first fiat, “Let there be light.” If he ever stopped, the universe would immediately
wink out.

Such ideas fascinate me, but because nobody has produced any material evidence to
substantiate them, I decline to place faith in any of them. Faith is superfluous anyway;
material evidence satisfies my need to feel connected. Admittedly, if I had spiritual
vision, it might reveal beauties yet unimagined. I contemplate the absence of such joys with
equanimity; it gives me mild regret, but no more so than my inability to perceive in flowers
the same colors that bees see.

My spiritual blindness may even offer an advantage. I take courage in the hope that, like
the color-blindness that lets my friend see through birds’ camouflage, my disability makes
it hard for spiritual charlatans to fool me.






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