The other day, someone I friended on Facebook, whom I know nothing about, wrote a comment that was incongruous with the post he was commenting on. I made a joke of it and he angrily (one assumes from the misspelling and exclamation mark) said, “Proof me wrong!”
He had listed three things I cannot prove one way or another. One—that we’re all going to die–was self-evident and not in question. But the other two, no one belongs anywhere, and, no one exists on purpose, are a bit sketchy. Sketchy, not because they are provable, but because they are not topics that fall into the realm of needing proof. I responded this way:
I was joking. But, if I may answer seriously, I think we place too much emphasis on proof. Proof has its place; you want to know elevators work before you step onto one, for instance. But most of our experience is subjective and does not require proof. So, if you say, ‘No one belongs anywhere,’ I can’t prove you wrong in an objective sense. But I can say I belong where I am because it feels right to be here, I’ve never felt the pull of a location before, and lots of personal synchronicities/potentially psychic-style phenomena culminated in reassuring me that this was the place I needed to be. Again, not proof for you, but signs for me.
The world works both ways.
This exchange got me to thinking about just how infected we’ve become with the notion that something isn’t real until it’s proven, when in reality most things are not provable and often appear to be in flux. We want to concretize; we want to know. We want that knowledge to be forever knowledge, but nothing lasts forever, including the way things work. Some of our discoveries are leaps in understanding that build upon the works of others as we learn more. But isn’t it also possible that some have their own internal rules change because nothing lasts forever?
It also got me to thinking about the uselessness of specific knowledge as anything but possibility or metaphor for truths. For example, using scientific terminology to explain the mechanics of a spiritual transformation that seems to be assisted by an otherwise undetectable secondary agency, one may write, “Particles in superposition activate with changes in your perception, signaling to The Good whether or not you are ready for complete transformation.” Does that describe how transformation actually works, or is it using words that read well to the eyes of those people out of Truth’s flow who are attracted to discovering physical mechanics to the ineffable? Even if the mechanics were real and not just pseudoscientific mumbo-jumbo, knowing them doesn’t mean they aren’t relative or malleable. It’s overreaching.
All of this is to say, don’t get bogged down in the details. It may be that this speaker, or another, is speaking Truth while attaching an imaginary physics to it. We might be doing it on purpose or by accident, as we try to appeal to the sensibilities of the times. Perhaps it is more useful to read such efforts as metaphors and similes. We know from any and all bibles that the more we concentrate on metaphors, the greater the temptation to fill them in with imagination and supposition and then forget they were metaphors.
We speakers should abandon the urge to use scientific jargon to “prove,” or at least physicalize, the vague mechanics of the spiritual and psychic in any literal sense. Listeners and readers would do well to abandon the literal explanation the way one would–in the exact way one would–with any foreign cultural interpretation members of that culture mistake for universal, unwavering fact, and judge whether the underlying thing being articulated is worth understanding.
Or, rather, has more to it that can be understood than mere gobbledygook.