Tuesday, July 27, 2010

We are stupid, therefore we cannot comprehend

“There were some matters taught by The Tillek which simply had to be learned, because they mattered as details to the whole story. The Great Sleep, for instance, puzzled even the cleverest calf, male or female, because dolphins did not require sleep. To have slept for fifteen years was an incredible thing to have done.”
-- Dolphins of Pern, Annie McCaffrey

I've been a fan of Annie McCaffrey's
dragonrider series for more than 10 years now(yes, I'm getting old), and her works have dragged me into another dimension altogether. In a series of stories, she recreates another world (similar to Earth, yet far deeper than Harry Potter) and inspires readers with real, humane characters. I recently decided to re-read the series for the umpteenth time (I never got to read her entire series in one shot previously - her books were always on loan at the library), to relive some of that childhood fantasy and longing. I stopped short when I read the above quotes in her book, the Dolphins of Pern.

About half of the
Dolphins of Pern was written from a dolphin's point of view. Intelligent creatures, treated with metasynth to further enhance their empathic abilities and allow communication with humans. Yet, from a dolphin's perspective, there were many things that were mind-boggling - Why didn't humans sleep in the seas? Why did they even need to sleep at all, since dolphins don't need to sleep?

“The Tillek (their dolphin leader) said those points were the spaceships that had brought Humankind and Dolphinkind to Pern They must take this on faith, she said, for she had had to learn these facts from The Tillek who had taught her. This was fact as well as faith and must be believed, though never experienced. It was History.”
-- Dolphins of Pern, Annie McCaffrey

If we've never experienced something, can we comprehend it? Or must we simply take it on faith, believed though never experienced?

"Then Jesus told him, 'Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'" (John 20:29)

"I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." (Matthew 17:20)

Can we have faith as small as a mustard seed? Or must we spend our lives on earth arguing with our limited intelligence?

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