Posted: 6/17/17 at 9:10am. Column by Ed Jordan.
It is spider season, and their webs are everywhere outside. I just read a marvelous little article in Lapham’s Quarterly (Spring 2017), which got my creative juices going. In an intellectual world filled with humans who accept nothing besides what they already expect to find, Loren Eiseley’s article entitled “So Far as We Know” (from his book the Unexpected Universe), carried my thoughts beyond what I expected to find. Eiseley encountered a large black and green orb spider and its web. He shares a wonderful, thought-provoking analogy between a giant black and green orb spider, and man.
The orb spider lives at the center of its universe. It sits connected to a large tactical and communicative web. When something touches the web the whole web vibrates, alerting the spider that something came into contact with the strands. Apparently the spider can tell the difference between the wind moving the web, or a raindrop, or a live prey.
Eiseley explains that he touched the web with the point of his pencil. The web communicated, and the spider went to alert status. But since there was no fluttering or further movement from the source of the signal, the spider ignored it. Yet here was a huge living being standing at the edge of the spider’s web, perhaps a friend, perhaps an enemy.
But the being (a man in this case) was not even perceived, because man is not a part of the spider’s universe. It only responds to specific information communicated through its web. Neither the poke of a pencil on the web, nor the giant being standing next to the web, fit into the spider’s intellectual or sensory map. Eiseley wrote that a related question haunted him for the rest of the day.
What if man, with all of our scientific knowledge and technological abilities to monitor the far reaches of space, as well as having expertise to explore the un-seeable microscopic levels of human cells, has obliviously enclosed himself in a man-centered universe and thereby is blind to encounters with information outside what he already knows or expects?
Perhaps a huge being Eiseley called “The Dreamer” (i.e. implying God, who created our system and others), is right now standing next to us, sending us signals of communication through our web of sensors and data-gathering tools, and we don’t even notice Him.
How could we not notice God standing right next to us, strumming on our sensor web, saying “Hello! Can you hear me? Can you see me?” Perhaps like the spider, we pick up some vibrations of His activity, but since those vibrations don’t fit our preconceived ideas, we disregard them.
Humans who reject the existence of God are likely to see themselves as the center of one’s own little universe, and could unwittingly be like the giant orb spider, sitting at the control system of its universe monitoring all the vibrations, but writing some off as “nothing” because those types of vibrations don’t exist in their predisposed database of possible explanations.
When we set out resolute that only the information we already personally believe to be valid is possible, then any information that runs counter to that we judge as non-existent or easily ignored. Thus, though there might be a huge Being currently standing right beside us, our human-centered receptors are not tuned to vibrations from that kind of Being, so to us it does not exist.
If we are not careful, our preconceived man-centered conceptions can keep us absorbed only in what we see or feel. But we must not confine ourselves to our human-centered worldview that makes no room for God.
What if there really is a Huge, Loving God, playing a love song on your sensory receptors, and yet you don’t respond or investigate because your information system has already declared the existence of God to be foolish or old-fashioned?
Yes, God does exist, and He is bigger than our worldview and database of knowledge. He is strumming a love song, as in Revelation 22:17 (NLT): “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires, drink freely from the water of life.”
God is both inside and outside our human communication system. He invites you to respond, and get to know Him.
Award-winning columnist Dr. Ed Jordan is pastor of Gwynn’s Island Baptist Church, Gwynn, VA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org