Monday, April 7, 2008

An Elephant Story

One day a boy came to his Father and asked "You know Dad, our teacher just showed us that the world is really round and that is it just out there alone. Gee Dad, what holds it up?"
His father, thinking that his son would be satisfied with a child's answer, said, "Well Son, a camel holds the world up." His son, always trusting his father, looked puzzled but walked away satisfied - for awhile.

The next day after he thought this over, he came back to his Dad and asked the obvious question. "Dad, you know, you said yesterday the world rests on a camel. But what holds the camel up?" His father, a bit perplexed, quickly thought, "You know, this kid's got a good question. I don't know the answer to it, but I'd better make up one - and fast." Like most fathers he knew instinctively that a quick answer turneth away further questions. So he said with confidence, "Son, a kangaroo holds the camel up."

So his son returned a short time later and said, "Hey Dad. I've still got a problem. What holds up the kangaroo?" His father was now desperate, so he thought quickly and figured he'd make one last try. So he searched his mind for the largest animal he could think of, and he put a capital on it and said loudly (if you shout, people believe you): "An Elephant holds the world up." "Come on, Dad," his son said, having now caught on that his father was not getting to the bottom of things, "What holds up the Elephant?"

So His father came back down in an exasperated stroke of pure genius, "Son, it's elephant all the way down."

This story (taken from James W. Sire's Discipleship of the Mind) illustrates the idea of presuppositions, assumptions we hold that may be true, false, or partially true. They are the beliefs we have about the way things are. You know you have a presupposition on your hands when the only thing left to do is shout, like an exasperated mom who finally just says "Because I said so!". One cannot pile animal after animal, or reason after reason on top of each other. Our beliefs about God are presuppositions. Eventually when trying to "prove" or explain His existence, we come to the place where we run out of explanations. This is where faith stands alone. Whether you are a believer, unsure, or atheistic, your beliefs (which cannot be once and for all proven) require faith. To me, this should keep all of us pretty humble.

By the way, the image is a sculpture by Salvador Dali called "Elephant with Long Legs."

May Light increase!

No comments: