Friday, May 28, 2010

The mind and the senses

I was intrigued by an obituary I saw earlier this week for a psychologist named Richard Gregory. He was an experimental psychologist who was particularly fascinated by the way the brain fills in visual information. "He explained that perception involves two sorts of processing: the straightforward acceptance of what is in the retinal image; and the use of what we already know, or have learned, to fill in or complete the image."

Here he is explaining it himself:

"Well, blow me down!" he says.

A long time ago, I remember reading an interview with the documentarian Errol Morris who said "Believing is seeing and not the other way around." His further contention is that "Unhappily, an unerring fact of human nature is that we habitually reject the evidence of our own senses. If we want to believe something, then we often find a way to do so regardless of evidence to the contrary." But Professor Gregory also shows that sometimes our senses have no idea what to make of the evidence in front of us. Or that we make something of it because something in us compels us to make something of it.

I can't tell you how happy I am not to be preaching on the Trinity this Sunday. But if I were, I think I'd be talking about how desperately we want to explain things and how at this moment I am feeling very at ease knowing that I am unable to comprehend the Trinity even with the best efforts of my mind and senses. I know I'm filling in the blanks but I hope I also know that this is not because I understand but because I want to.


Anonymous said...

As the late, great Harlow Russell used to say, "All of life can be divided between puzzles to be solved and mysteries to be adored." Glad to hear you have the Trinity in column 2!

LKT said...

Ah yes. I love that line of his.

My post was rather incomprehensible, which I suppose is appropriate for a post attempting to explain how we explain the Trinity.

Wanda said...

Learning to accept that my acceptance (by faith) of the inscrutable is acceptable to and treasured by God is what I was just pondering on today.

Hope that makes sense to somebody else.

Glad I ran across your post.

LKT said...

Makes sense to me! Thanks for commenting.