Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Seeing Life thru the Mind's Eye


This morning in chapel we had an excellent sermon by Rev. Fleming Rutledge on John 9. It talked about various ways of seeing and being seen, and most especially being seen by God. It also talked about various forms of blindness. My friend Meltem from Turkey recently sent me a link to a most amazing story about a man not only born blind, but born without eyeballs, who is a remarkable painter of three dimensional landscapes which he has never seen in his entire life. The scientists are of course baffled by all of this as the man never has 'seen' things by means of his eyes, but only through his mind's eye, his mental imagination of how it must look. Of course he has heightened senses of tactile feeling, and perhaps his other senses as well, but Ezraf from Ankara in Turkey is a reminder of how 'fearfully and wonderfully' we are made and frankly how little we actually understand about all of our composition. Ezraf to me is a reminder of how, despite all normal expectations, God can use our disabilities even for his glory, as John 9 says. Check out his story here---
As it turns out, there is far more to 'seeing' than just having eyeballs, as both Ezraf's story and the story of the man in John 9 attest.

8 comments:

FishHawk said...

AMEN!!!

Rob Penn said...

Imagery is something we talked about in one of my psych classes today. We actually talked about imagery in germs of how it helps performance such as in sports, job interviews, and the like. But it makes sense that if the man has heightened senses of feel, and his blindness has improved his muscle memory, that he would be able to do those things with a LOT of talent.

It's amazing how the mind makes up for deficiencies like that. Our adaptive prowess, most of which we can't understand or controll, is ridiculously awesome. ^_^

Rob Penn said...

Ben Witherington said...
"And if we ask who gave the brain that power to compensation the answer is not--- modern science or technology as helpful as they may be:)

BW3"

Werd. It's the opposite way around, actually. Our brain and mind brought forth science and technology.

Ultimately, our psychological awesomeness is there because God placed certain chemicals in our brain that produce certain things in our minds AS WELL as the free will to completely act against that nature if we choose to. ^_^

Theophilus Punk (PLStepp) said...

Ben,
You should read Oliver Sacks's short story, "To See and Not to See." What we think of as a relatively simple process--we open our eyes and we see and function--turns out to be a much more complex set of phenomena.

Another story along the same lines is Raymond Carver's "Cathedral." GORGEOUS.

crystal said...

I've read about him - amazing.

I have a degenerative retinal disease and am legally blind but in my dreams and in my imagination I still see everything perfectly.

Ben Witherington said...

Thank so much for your sharing Crystal....

God bless you,

BW3

TheThinker said...

Here's a story from Pastor Steve Jones' sermon "God Created us to live in Community," delivered on
October 22, 2006.

A certain man (who the scientific literature identifies only as “Patient X”) had a stroke
which destroyed the part of his brain in back that processes sight. NOT THE
EYEBALLS, NOT THE NERVES, but the place in the back of the brain where the
nerves send their signals to be interpreted as sight. To this day, he can see NOTHING
and MRI images confirm that it is impossible for him to see.
1
A strange thing happened. It was found that he could still tell if people were
happy or sad, even before they said a single word!! Experiments were done with a
functional MRI (which takes videos of your brain at work). Pictures of happy faces or
sad faces or angry faces or neutral faces were placed in front of his sightless eyes, and
EVEN THOUGH HE SAW NOTHING BUT PERMANENT BLACKNESS, he could
tell a surprising percentage of the time whether the face was happy or sad, or angry or
neutral.
WHAT WAS GOING ON HERE?
The fMRI revealed the secret: His eyeballs, which were working fine, tried to
send the signal they saw through the optic nerves, which were working fine, to the back
of his brain for sight (which was NOT working at all) BUT AMAZINGLY, watching the
fMRI scientists saw something else! Not ONLY did he have optic nerves that went to the
SIGHT center of his brain, but there was a SECOND set of optic nerves that went from
his eyeballs down into the place in your brain (called the Amygdala) that processes
EMOTIONAL FEELINGS!
A HUGE DISCOVERY WAS MADE! GOD WIRED US SO THAT OUR EYES
WOULD NOT ONLY SEE SIGHTS, BUT WOULD INSTANTLY TELL US WHAT
EMOTIONAL CUES WE NEEDED TO TAKE FROM SOMEONE, EVEN IF WE
COULD NOT SEE THEM VISUALLY!!
In fact, the nerves that go down to the emotion centers of your brain are TEN TIMES
FASTER than those that go to the part where you can see. In other words, when
someone comes into the room, your brain registers their EMOTIONS on a deep
unconscious level TEN TIMES FASTER than you even SEE them consciously!

carl said...

I can understand how Ezraf is able to draw shapes with perspective but what about color?! Someone must of gave him a couple of hints. Even still, this is an amazing story.