Two boys, William and Robert, walk the same route across the countryside. The first, Robert, describes the walk to his teacher and says ’It was very dull; I hardly saw a single person. I had much rather have gone by the turnpike-road.’
The second student, William, comes in dirty and wet, a handkerchief full of ‘curiosities’ and a mind full of questions. He followed a bird because he thought it had a broken wing, ended up wet in the bog, was given a dead snake by a man, then climbed a hill and tried to figure out the layout of the region, and looked for the ruins of a Roman camp. He wants to know all about the things he has seen, touched and gathered. His teacher answers his questions and then comments on the different experiences of the two boys who took the ‘same’ walk:
‘So it is. One man walks through the world with his eyes open, another with his eyes shut; and upon this difference depends all the superiority of knowledge which one man acquires over another. I have known sailors who had been in all quarters of the world, and could tell you nothing but the signs of the tippling-houses, and the price and quality of the liquor.
On the other hand, Franklin could not cross the Channel without making observations useful to mankind. While many a vacant thoughtless youth is whirled through Europe without gaining a single idea worth crossing the street for, the observing eye and inquiring mind find matter of improvement and delight in every ramble. You then, William, continue to use your eyes. And you, Robert, learn that eyes were given to you to use.”
The author of the science book, Charles Kingsley, applies this parable-like story to the observation of God’s world around us, urging the readers to think over in their own minds whether they will be ‘eyes’ or ‘no eyes’ and “as they grow up, look and see for themselves what happens: or whether they will let other people look for them, or pretend to look; and dupe them, and lead them about – the blind leading the blind, ’til both fall into the ditch.’
He concludes: “And is it not altogether wrong to refuse to learn from your Father in the most beautiful and most wonderful of all picture-books, which is simply all things which you can see, hear, and touch, from the sun and stars above your head to the mosses and insects at your feet? It is your duty to learn His lessons: and it is your interest.”
I’m guilty of being ‘no eyes’ sometimes. Too busy, too tired, my interest in what God has to teach and show me becomes dulled. I let other people look for me and “dupe” me, as Kingsley puts it. I think more about my annoyance with the heat than wondering about the seasons and in turn, wondering about their Creator and his providence. A hill of ants becomes commonplace to me and therefore, I learn nothing from it. The wondrous becomes blasé. A scratch heals and I pay no attention and give no praise to God, who designed our bodies to heal themselves.
A decision to be curious and observant about the things I can see can teach me so much about the things I cannot see.
We are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Have you opened your eyes and seen that when a baby boy is born, their body is created in an intricately designed way?
Sometimes people are fortunate enough to learn these things before they choose circumcision for their son. Some open their eyes, but the decision to circumcise has already been made, the healthy body part is gone and cannot be replaced. I believe we ought to have compassion for parents who did not realize the harm done by circumcision until after it is done. After all, our culture definitely wants to ‘look for us’ in this area, and even ‘pretend to look’ and ‘dupe’ us, in Kingsley’s words.
For example, perhaps we read a quip in a headline that says ‘benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks’, and we do not look for ourselves to see if this really lines up with what we believe and what is displayed in God’s most beautiful and most wonderful of all picture-books – His creation – or if it is someone else’s flawed or biased viewpoint that we’re not taking the time to question. His creation tells us that any ‘benefit’ that is claimed for circumcision can be obtained in less invasive ways, and that the intact penis rarely experiences any problems. After all, most of the world, which includes almost all Christians, does not practice circumcision. If we let a single doctor or small group of doctors ‘pretend to look’ at the issue of circumcision for us, or let one parent ‘pretend to look’ at the issue, a family can easily get duped into making a decision that has lifelong consequences.
If you don’t know much about God’s good design of the human penis, this may be one area where literal observation to learn with our eyes may not be the best option. 😉 We are also given our intellect to reflect upon God’s creation. I encourage you to research the purpose and function of the foreskin with your eyes open (figuratively!). Ask questions, don’t hurry. Don’t think of it as dull or a chore. Don’t be embarrassed, either! It is your duty to learn what God is showing you, and it is also in your interest, and in the interest of any sons yet to be added to your family.
So use your eyes and your intellect, your senses and your brains, and learn what God is trying to teach you continually by them. I do not mean that you must stop there, and learn nothing more. Anything but that. There are things which neither your senses nor your brains can tell you; and they are not only more glorious, but actually more true and more real than any things which you can see or touch.
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- “Eyes and No Eyes”: Charles Kingsley and God’s Creation - August 18, 2018