A Dream Journey into Understanding
5401 Willowick Dr.
Anaheim, CA 92807
From: PSCF 44 (June 1992): 134.
The other night I had been up very late studying. I'd intended to finish working through the selections from Locke's Human Understanding and Hume's Human Nature in the Literature and the Arts course reader, but I could not keep my thoughts from wandering. They got lost in the text, in themselves, in the Beatles poster that hung crookedly on the wall. In my mind, my own thoughts began to fuse with the thoughts of the philosophers. I began to consider myself and how I had come to be the way I was, and how I knew things, and what was truth. Finally concluding that it might be a dangerous thing to consider truth at 3:30 in the morning, I closed the reader, said a distracted little prayer for understanding, and went to sleep.
I dreamed. In my dream I was a little child, a small child looking for something. I did not know what it was, only that I needed to find it. I was in a dark place, a place full of shadows, and I could see neither myself nor where I was going. I did not remember where I had come from.
"Help!" I cried out--I could think of nothing else to say.
I was startled to see a man appear at my left side, carrying a lantern. He was exceedingly tall and austere (he rather resembled my seventh-grade math teacher) and he wore a white wig. He was so great in stature, I believe he had to squint to see me. His strides were long and confident, and if I didn't know where I was going, he certainly did. But before I had a chance to speak to him, another man appeared at my right, also bearing a lantern. This second was equally stern of feature and also physically imposing, but while the first was great in height, he was great in girth. Fists clenched, he walked likewise with grave purpose. I looked at my strange companions in awe and amazement.
"Child," said the one on the left, "what is your name?"
"I don't know," I replied, and realized I had spoken the truth. "I don't know anything. But who are you?"
"I am called Science," he said, and his voice was low and even. "You desire to know? I am an expert on such matters."
"Do you know everything?" I asked.
"Nearly," he replied. "And what I do not know I shall soon find out." He then produced a great stack of books and manuscripts, old and new, and placed them before me. He also took out a small microscope (much like the one in the Junior Scientist kit I got for my tenth birthday) and placed it in my hand. "Read and discover," he said, "and you will know all of life."
Quite pleased and satisfied, I thanked the tall gentleman and began to sort through the volumes, looking, searching. Seeing so many strange and beautiful words, I had almost completely forgotten about the man standing at my right. I jumped a little when he spoke.
"Child," said he, "what are you looking for?"
"I want to know all of life, " I replied.
"For that," he returned, "you need only one book." And with an air of gravity, he handed me a single volume. I read the cover: The Holy Bible.
"That's all?" I asked. "That's everything?" I glanced doubtfully at the books Science had given me and wondered how they all could have been compressed into the one.
"That is all."
"But, sir, who are you?" I asked then.
"I am called Religion," he answered. "But, child, who gave you all those worthless books?"
"Why, Science did," I said. I motioned towards Science, surprised. "Didn't you see?"
"I saw nothing," answered Religion. "I know of no such person."
"But he's standing right there! Don't you see him?"
"I see nothing."
I turned again to Science. "Science," I said, "did you see me talking to Religion?"
Science raised one finely arched eyebrow. "Religion? Is that your little imaginary friend?"
"No," I said. "He's certainly real. And he gave me this." I showed the Bible to Science.
"Ha!" Science laughed. "The Holy Bible?! An interesting historical and sociological document, to be sure, but it really has no relevance to you or me. Besides," (here Science bent down low to speak to me in confidential tones) "it's wrong."
He took the Bible from my hands and began to leaf through it rapidly. "You see? Genesis implies that the world is only about 6000 years old--that's ridiculous: the earth is billions of years old. And a universal flood certainly never happened." Science reached into his own stack of books and tossed me Geology. "Job is nothing but an old folktale--almost all cultures have one like it." He gave me Comparative Mythology. "Matthew--let's seeș the birth and resurrection of Jesus are physical impossibilities." He threw me Human Biology. Science went on like this for quite a while, and it was not long before I had lost most of my respect for Religion and his gift. I tossed the Bible off to one side. I picked up Physics.
But Religion shook his large head and said to me, "Child, what are you doing? You are going about this all wrong. You must not assume that those other books contain the truth. They only contain the imperfect guesses of man. In fact, the only truth is in the book you are ignoring. The Bible is the direct Word of a perfect God, and every sentence is the truth, just as it is. So if anything you read disagrees with the Bible in any way, it is false. That's all." I looked at Religion questioningly. He said, "Come closer. Let me tell you what knowing all of life really is."
More confused than ever, I came. I was surprised to find that he, too, had a formidable stack of books. From them, he began to instruct me in the Church doctrines, the Church rules, and the official Church views on every conceivable issue. He assured me that all these things came from the Bible, and were therefore entirely true. I did not agree with everything he said, but I dared not say anything, as I figured Religion knew much more than I.
So I was once again lost, pulled strongly in two different directions. Science on the left! Religion on the right! It occurred to me that the quest I was on had become something like the Human Quest of Professor Richard Bube's book. (If I had remembered the contents of that book, it might have helped me.) I wanted to read, to know for myself, but I realized that I had to read by one lantern or the other, for the two would not come together. I tried to read the Bible by Religion's lantern, but as I knew so little, I did not know what to look for. Seeing the microscope still in my hand, I decided to look for microscopes in the Bible. I couldn't find any.
"Religion," said I, "there are no microscopes in the Bible. Does that mean they do not exist?"
"If they are not in the Scriptures," said Religion, "they are meaningless."
I turned to Science. "What has meaning?" I asked.
"I cannot tell you what has meaning," he replied, "but I can tell you what has truth. The things you can see, hear, taste, touch, examine, analyze, and evaluate--these are the only things that have truth; they are the only realities."
I still had the Bible and the microscope. Under Science's lantern, I took a corner of a page of the Bible and placed it on the microscope stage. I set the instrument on low magnification and looked.
"Science," I said, "I see but random lines and grains."
"Yes," he said.
Suddenly, I remembered what I had been looking for. I was looking for myself, for my identity. I realized that I still hadn't found it. Gazing up once again at knowledgeable Science, I queried, "who am I?"
Science cast his eyes down upon me (they really were very cold) and contemplated me for some time. At last, he reached a long, lanky hand behind him and brought forth a mirror. He held it before me, and I looked. I shrank away.
What I had seen in the mirror was a robot, a machine of steel and wire which mimicked my own gestures to perfection. Exceedingly complex, it had many moving parts but was quite devoid of life. Alarmed, I cried out, "Science, Science, is that all I am?"
Science shrugged. He did not answer.
I turned to Religion. "Who am I?" I demanded of him. He too produced a mirror. I looked and saw nothing but the reflection of the floor beneath me.
"I see nothing!" I cried. "Where am I?"
"In truth," said Religion, "there is nothing of significance in you but your soul, which is invisible."
All at once, there appeared a light that was a thousand times brighter than both lanterns put together. Science and Religion suddenly seemed very small, very human, and just a little foolish. I saw Jesus Christ walking out of the light towards the place where I stood. "Erica," I heard his great voice say. "I know you. Follow me."
"Lord," I whispered. Suddenly ashamed of the microscope, I dropped it on the ground. To my great surprise, he stooped to pick up the microscope and gave it back to me.
"My child," he said. "You are free to find out all you can about the world I created for you. But above all things, I want you to know me." He then opened Religion's Bible to John 14:6--"I am the Way and the Truth and the Life." The words sprang forward from the page and filled my mind.
I was certain now that I had found what I was seeking. Not books, but a living Person! From him comes all identity, all knowledge, all life. I looked again at my two companions. I could see them so much more clearly in the greater light than I could by their own flickering lanterns. The tall one seemed not so tall and the broad one not so broad, and some of the severity was gone from their faces.
They looked at Christ and then at each other. I believe they
were seeing each other for the first time. With great joy, I began to walk into
When I awoke to the lesser light of the morning, I had an incredibly powerful sense of answered prayer.