I’ve thought about faith and the will to believe. And I’ve stumbled upon an intuitive way to think about faith and what it means to be a believer. Imagine a blind spot.
Every car has one; an area of view on the exterior of the vehicle that the driver cannot see. Where the analogy comes into play here is how we choose to perceive that blind spot. It is an unknown. To be more specific, it is a known unknown, a recognized gap in our knowledge. While we are driving down the road, we cannot see our blind spot. This can have disastrous consequences if one is not careful merging into another lane with a car too close by.
Imagine that life is like driving a car down a road. There are no other cars that you can see on the road, either. You’ve spent your entire life driving this car. You’ve never left the car, and so you’ve never seen the full exterior of the car, only the areas that you can see through the mirrors. Therefore, you have never seen the blind spot of your vehicle. You know that it’s there, but you don’t know what it looks like. All you know is that sometimes a car could pass you and when the cars are in those blind spots on either side of your car, you have to watch out or you could collide with another vehicle. For the sake of this analogy, though, you cannot communicate with other drivers on the road, unless you stop the car and get out, and only then if you convince the other driver to stop their car and get out also. Because everyone else is driving too fast, you cannot communicate with drivers once you get out of the car. Finally, for the sake of the analogy, once you get out of the car, you cannot get back in and start the car up and once the car stops moving, you can’t start it up again. When you run out of gas, there are no gas stations, so you just pull over.
The point of these seemingly arbitrary rules is to translate some facts of life into the analogy. For one, the time spent driving the car is like the time one spends alive here on Earth. When the car stops moving, one’s life ends. Once one’s life ends, they can’t come back to life and they can’t communicate with the living. Most people spend their life driving down the road, either unaware of the drivers around them or unable to see them. It’s at these crucial moments in our life that another driver pops into our rearview mirror.
That blind spot could look like anything, for all you know. That area of the car is unknown to you. I think that the blind spot really sums up faith and the human experience. Our senses allow us to explore the world around, the side and rearview mirrors are technology that extend our senses and make life easier, and the blind spot is the uncertain or unknown parts of life that we have to face. Just like we can’t go through life with a perfect understanding of the way the world works, we can’t drive our cars with a perfect view on all sides of the exterior of the vehicle. We have to drive through life with our limited field of vision, but for the most part, we get by just fine. Some assume that the area hidden from us in the blind spot isn’t unique. There is nothing about this blind spot that would lead us to believe that it is any different from the other parts of the car. Yet others believe that because this blind spot is an unknown field of view to us, by virtue of its enigmatic nature, it must also be unique or different.
I think that it’s natural for humans to wonder about what that blind spot looks like. Maybe there’s something special about that blind spot, some might wonder; there’s a special reason why we can’t see that area in the blind spot. Maybe it is because we can’t see that blind spot while we’re driving that the blind spot is not meant for us. It’s not allowed. Suddenly this part of the car is special because it’s beyond our ability to see. We yearn for it. We build up our expectations for what this blind spot will look like when we actually see it to the point where reality will never live up to our expectations.
So what if we never have to own up to the reality that our blind spot is just like the rest of the car? Religions of the world make such grand pronouncements about the part of causality that is unknown to us, safe from any form of rebuke because the only way we can get evidence to prove or disprove their claim is to die. Religious ideology has been considered beyond criticism because its claims couldn’t be verified. But now atheists have begun to stick their heads out of the window of the car just to catch a glimpse at the blind spot that has eluded us for so long.
Theists drive through life never observing what the blind spot looks like. They know that it’s there and they know that they can’t see it, and that’s just fine for them to be satisfied with the world. Atheists for all of our bravado, stick their head out the window while they’re driving just to glimpse the part of the car they can’t see. Meanwhile, without paying attention to the road, they swerve in and out of the lanes as they contrive a series of mirrors strung up on their car to extend their field of view.
There is nothing supernatural about the part of reality that we can’t see. It’s just hidden. Searching for answers in science is preferable because we can illuminate the darkest corners of the hidden parts of our understanding with science and reason and narrow that blind spot.