A Powerful Parable Against the Premises of Unbelief

blog 062115There are many reasons for the unbelief rampant in our times. Among them is the claim by some that because they do not see or hear evidence of God or an afterlife, our belief in these is just wishful thinking on our part so as to avoid the conclusion that everything ends with our death, that this world is all there is.

A parable currently circulating on the Internet addresses this sort of unbelief. A Facebook friend (Vicki) called it to my attention. I have adapted a bit and will present it to you here. Some sites indicate that the original author is Útmutató a Léleknek, while other sites are silent as to the source. I am only adapting it here because I have seen various forms of it and am not sure of the original. Nevertheless it is an effective parable in its essence.

Prior to having you read it please recall the nature of an analogy or a parable. An analogy presents a thing or a scenario that is “like” another one, but not exactly the same. The word parable comes from the Greek word para (alongside) + bole (to throw). Thus a parable is something that is expressed in terms of something else. It is “thrown alongside” in the sense that it is not exactly the same, but similar to what is described. The comparison discloses both the strengths and weakness of what is compared.

Many today misunderstand this and so when an analogy or parable is presented, dismiss it since it is not an exact fit. But as we’ve seen, an analogy or parable is not intended to be a perfect fit; it is intended to compare things that are merely similar.  In the story that follows, we who live in the world are compared to two babies in the womb of their mother. The babies debate whether there really is anything or anyone outside the womb.

Now it is true that this world is “like” a womb, but not identical to it. Further, God is not a mother gestating us in her womb. He is Father and Creator, raising His children. But the story you are about to read is not about the nature of God per se, but about the argument that God and life after death do not exist merely because we cannot see them or because no one has verifiably claimed to have returned from Heaven to tell us all about it. So the analogy is about the argument over the existence of God and the afterlife, not about the nature of God.

So please consider this before commenting (in the comment box) that God is Father, not mother. Whether the original author meant this or not, I do not mean it in presenting the story.

With all that in mind, I present the story. The paragraphs are numbered for reference.

  1. In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other, “Do you believe in life after delivery?”
  2. The other replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. It seems we are obviously here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later and that we have capacities that are meant for something greater than here.”
  3. “Nonsense!” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What makes you think there is?”
  4. The second said, “Well, I am going to suppose that since we have eyes and legs and mouths that there is a world outside that has more light than here so that we can see, and where will walk about with our legs, and eat with our mouths. I mean, why would we have legs if we weren’t ever going to walk, or eyes if we weren’t ever going to have light and see?  Maybe there will be many other things that we can’t understand now.”
  5. The first replied, “That is absurd. Your are just engaging in wishful thinking and hoping that things will get better. This is all there is. Who needs to walk? And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. And since the umbilical cord is so short, life after delivery is to be logically excluded.”
  6. The second insisted, “Well I think there is something more than this, outside and beyond this womb. Some sort of longing is in my heart to see and walk freely and to eat and enjoy things. I mean, why would we have these legs and eyes and mouth and hands? And where did we get the longing to use them if we weren’t meant for something more? Indeed, maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.”
  7. The first replied, “Nonsense. And moreover if there is life, then why has no one has ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.”
  8. “No,” said the second, “Surely we will meet our mother and she will take care of us.”
  9. The first replied “Mother? You actually believe in a mother? That’s laughable. If a mother exists then where is she now?”
  10. The second said, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are from her and it is in her that we now live. Without her this world we are in now would not exist.”
  11. Said the first, “Well I don’t see her, so it is only logical that she doesn’t exist.”
  12. To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when I am in silence and I focus and really listen, I can perceive her presence, and hear her loving voice, calling down from above.”

Not a bad analogy in parable form (remember, no analogy is perfect)! Here are a few thoughts on how to apply it more specifically to our situation.

In sentence #2 the believing infant says, It seems we are obviously here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later and that we have capacities that are meant for something greater than here. This translates to the fact that, as Scripture says, God has put the timeless in our heart (Eccles 3:10). In other words, we can universally imagine concepts outside of the physical word and our experience, such as the timeless, and the concept of perfection is an indication that we are called to know, see, experience, and “walk” in these one day. The infants in the womb have eyes that are made for the light, but they cannot see while in the womb. But their eyes point to the purpose for which eyes are made. Their legs are made to walk, and thought they cannot walk now, their legs point to the reality for which they are made. That our desire is infinite points to the fact that there is some One who exists to fill that desire. This logic of a capacity pointing to a fulfilment of its object is taken up in sentences #4 and #6 as well.

Sentence #5 addresses the “wishful thinking” charge. The fact is that so-called “wishful thinking” imposes demands that move beyond merely trying to please myself with wishful thoughts. Thus, if I have legs and can one day walk, I must develop that skill and then take the risk of walking. If I can see, then I must accept the responsibility of one who sees and make changes in my life based upon it. Thus the Christian vision of eternal life and a higher call are not just wishful thoughts; they are demanding thoughts. They impose on us a requirement to prepare for and strive for higher things.

Sentences #9 and #11 take up the argument that if I can’t see something with my physical eyes or weigh it on a scale then it doesn’t exist. But of course many things exist that cannot be seen. I cannot see my thoughts per se. Neither can I see justice with my eyes. I can see their effects, but I cannot see them. It is like this with God. His effects are everywhere evident in what He has made, as is the intelligence and reason with which He made them. That things work predictably and in an orderly way is the basis of the scientific method. Some intelligence ordered all this with logic and suffused it with an intelligence that is intelligible. So I do not see God, but I see His effects, just as I do not see my intelligence or thoughts but do see their effects.

Sentence #10 reminds us of the fundamental question that most materialists and atheists refuse to answer: Why is there anything at all? We argue that things exist as coming from the One who is Existence Itself. But how does an atheist argue the effect of existence? Whence its cause?

Sentence #12 reminds every believer that he must be able to render an account for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15). Indeed, I will testify that when I still my soul, I do hear God’s heartbeat. I see Him in what He has made. And when I pray, I am heard. He is changing my life and I cannot account for the new man I am except that God lives and is changing me, molding and fashioning me into the man He has made me to be. I have tested His word and found it to be true. He lives and so I live!

How say you?


20 Replies to “A Powerful Parable Against the Premises of Unbelief”

  1. I say that I know God exists. He came into my life like a supernova. He came in and offered me his hand. I took it. My life has never been the same. The longer I hold onto his hand and the less I care about anything other than holding his hand, the stronger my faith grows. I see him in ways that were impossible when I was not open to seeing him. He never stops reaching out. Oh, if everyone would just listen to their own hearts, that are struggling so to find him, how amazed they would be when they do. The supernatural becomes the natural and the world around, is no longer the true reality. The old me would never have believed the new me telling me, God is real. Makes me laugh.

    1. So you’ve had some kind of a mystical experience? How do you cope in a world when you see that it no longer contains the truth because you have experienced the supernatural?

  2. Thank you frCharlesPope for crystalizing my thoughts and experience “So I do not see God, but I see His effects,…. I will testify that when I still my soul, I do hear God’s heartbeat. I see Him in what He has made. And when I pray, I am heard. He is changing my life and I cannot account for the new man I am except that God lives and is changing me, molding and fashioning me into the man He has made me to be. I have tested His word and found it to be true. He lives and so I live!” He answered my challenge(s), with justice and love.

  3. Thanks so much for your words of light and life.I don’t know what my life would have been like with out this time of recovery to renew my spirit in truth and wisdom. I love your reflections and the many other work’s of your hands.

    Being still is hard for me and this one is a great help to me.Be Blessed. Liz B.

  4. I find it laughable that Athiests claim there is no God. The simple truth is that by their own admission there in fact does exist a God. They do not believe in Him, certainly. But the moment one professes anything does not exist, it is called into being. It does in fact exist in their mind for the sole purpose of protesting it. There are an infinite number of things that do not exist, all of which we cannot know because they actually don’t exist. But purple monkey faced flying toads exist because I just imagined them. I may never get that mental picture to go away. But I have put it on the internet now as well. My belief in such creatures is no longer relevant because the idea now exists for all who read this.

    So when an Athiest tells you there is no God, they have already lost the argument. Ideas exist, love exists. Stories and music and emotions exist. Right and wrong exist. Creativity and imagination exist. These things are not all logical extensions of life and survival on this planet, and as such their purpose cannot be determined as enjoined solely to this planet of ours. Many of these things appear independent of natural selection. For what purpose then should any of these things developed. There is no scientific purpose.

    1. Not a helpful argument, I’d say. It puts God into the same category of existence as “Magical Flying Unicorns.”

      1. … which you admittedly already admitted to an extent. But, hopefully you can see a problem with God’s existence being of the same nature as “random crap I just made up.”

        1. I agree with you. I thought about that after I hit “submit”.

          But the statement that they cannot argue He does not exist is based on the fact that you cannot argue the point if He does in fact not exist. You could not know to make the argument in the first place.

          So after that, you realize the things I mentioned like music, fictional stories, love, have no scientific purpose. So why do they exist? The next step on this journey points you toward a mystery.

          Even morality as a whole seems scientifically out of place. So how on earth did these things come to be? Even if they were a random mutation, how did they become a part of every human being on the planet? Science and Natural Selection cannot answer this.

          So we have improbable abilities that have no purpose. But science has taught us that there must be some purpose to these abilities. They would not be beneficial for posterity without it. They would not be attractive alone. So they have purpose that cannot be explained. From there one can extrapolate that an Outside force is responsible. The only thing man has ever consistently pointed to as an Outside Force is God.

          C S Lewis says it much better.

  5. Wishful thinking cuts both ways. I’ve met plenty of people for whom it was obvious that they thought there was no God, that meant no judgement and therefore no one to hold them accountable for the nasty things they do with their private parts.

  6. I read this in “Tortured for Christ” by Richard Wurmbrand, a protestant evangelist in communist Romania and Russia. A powerful parable indeed.

  7. “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” –Hebrews 11: 1

    Those who profess that they are certain of God’s absence are not to be taken too seriously. They are the petulant child who chants “Nyah, nyah, nyah” over and over. “Because I can’t see it, it is not there” is an intellectual position beyond ridiculous.

    From my perspective, it takes a lot more “faith” to believe that this magnificently ordered universe happened by chance.

    And they call us “unenlightened”…..

  8. My favorite line was “And moreover if there is life [after delivery], then why has no one has ever come back from there?” Indeed!!!

    I believe God prevents us from proving His existence because of free will. If we could prove His existence then what choice would there be except to accept His lordship over us? And if there is no choice, then we are ultimately merely flesh and blood robots.

    Amazing, isn’t it, that God created the universe in such a way to evade proof of Himself.

    1. But we *can* prove His existence, Bee bee. He does not evade proof of Himself. The universe *is* proof of His existence. Are you familiar with effect-to-cause reasoning? You use it every day in daily life. It’s the reasoning that allows you to know that the mail delivery person came even if you didn’t see him/her, just the mail that was left in the box. It’s the reasoning that allows the police to identify someone as having been present in a certain place even though no one saw them, because of fingerprints that were left at the scene. The effect (mail or fingerprints or the universe) proves the cause (delivery person or criminal or God).

      There is most certainly still a choice, even after we know His existence, of whether to accept His lordship or not. Satan for example knew full well Who God was and still rejected His authority. Same with Adam and Eve (though they repented). Same with any Christian who commits any mortal sin. Or even a venial sin, since that is a partial rejection of God’s lordship (just not a complete rejection).

      1. You’re right. I see what you mean. I guess I was speaking about how easy it is to deny His existence by ignoring His implied existence. But I think you are correct.

  9. Luck/Lord, one underneath us, one above us, I’m a lucky being, I’m a loved being, I will lose all, I will be in awe, I will decide good and evil, I will obey the Lord. Luck/Lord, I speak for Luck, I speak for the Lord, the loser will be defeated not by the natural but by the supernatural.

  10. “And then the unbelieving infant was relegated to the flames for his unbelief, while the believing infant was spared and welcomed into the arms of his loving father, who is always just in his judgments on the beliefs and actions of infants.”

    1. As Msgr. said, it’s only an analogy, and therefore, not perfect. Hopelessness is easier than faith I guess.

  11. I was baptized as a Catholic at birth, but I never practiced my faith seriously, to the dismay of my wife. I killed the front of my heart in 2001 mistaking a heart attack for heartburn. Well, I am still here and though I have numerous ailments I can state with certainty that God is the reason. Due in large part to my wife’s prayers I began reading brochures about God the Father, the Son Jesus, Holy Spirit, Saints and the Mass Etc. I read one in particular that I kept going back to time and again. It is a meditation based on Mother Teresa’s spiritual teachings. It presents Jesus speaking to us in the first person titled: “I Thirst for you.” It is a plea by Jesus to open the door to our hearts and invite him in. I was always a skeptic but this little booklet kept tugging at me. I must have read it a dozen times before I finally gave myself to Jesus. Sincerely. Slowly, over the weeks, months and years, I kept changing. Now I pray regularly, attend mass as an usher, actively promote the sanctity of life, fight hunger etc. etc.
    I don’t need to see God to know he exists. Besides, He was here on earth over two thousand years ago and people just like us (by the millions) refused to believe it was God. Answer the knock at the door to your heart with sincerity and he will do the rest.

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