So recently I’ve been a bit taken by the perceptual mechanisms that Adam and Eve might have had that we do not. We see in Genesis 2 that there were trees in the garden (I know what those look like) and these trees had things like knowledge and life growing on the branches (I have NO IDEA what those things look like!).
I think that several other reasons exist to believe that Adam and Eve could “see” and process the world around them through senses beyond the standard five.
The difficulty is that if you are born without sight, then you really have no idea what “sight” is, or even what you are actually missing because you do not have sight. If you are born without sight you are also born without the ability to develop multiple other skills that we all take for granted, such as color distinction, reading, design, art appreciation, or any activity that requires hand-eye coordination. These and countless other processes all develop through our eyes and in our mind a whole way of interacting with reality that sightless people do not have. And people born without sight have no idea that they are missing anything at all. Try to describe sight to them. Good luck. Any frame of reference to describe or comprehend sight depends on the ability to have been seeing.
So, what were we born without? How would we respond if someone tried to describe to us “sensory experiences” for which we have no frame of reference? We might think they were crazy. We might even crucify them.
And what of us? What exactly did we lose in that garden? We know that we lost our life, but did we also lose our senses? If we currently function with only five senses what other options exist? Let me ponder with you for a few minutes.
Discernment: Visually we say that we “discern” shapes, figures, physical forms. The Bible describes discerning in several ways. One in particular says that the Spirit of God in us allows us to discern spirits. It doesn’t necessarily say “seeing” of spirits, simply and ability perceive and recognize them. Discernment is also way of reading situations, people, and environments. Discernment allows us to function in an integrated world and interact with things that we cannot see with our five senses.
Faith: The substance of things not seen. Is it possible that the main reason that it is impossible to please God without faith, is that it is virtually impossible to interact with God’s primary realm of existence based on our five primary senses? Faith comes by hearing, but it is not hearing itself. It is a way of perceiving an invisible reality. If God is creating matter when He speaks, our awareness of that speaking/creating can also be substance.
The Eyes of our hearts: “Were not our hearts burning within us…” said the disciples whose visual perceptions had been restrained by God, as they walked along the road to Emmaus (Luke 24). This is how they described the vague awareness that something more than an ordinary conversation was taking place. Sometimes it helps to close the eyes of our heads, so that we might be more attuned to the eyes of our hearts.
Revelation: Spiritual things are spiritually discerned or appraised, Paul told the Corinthian church. Our ability to receive supernatural revelation is a “sense” that is essential in interacting with a supernatural God.
Wisdom: I believe it was Bill Gothard who defined Wisdom as the ability to “see through God’s eyes” .
Knowing: Usually we know things because we have been told, or we have “found them out”. Jesus, we are told, “Knew their thoughts” without ever being “told”.
These are a few random thoughts of some possible senses that we may have left behind in the Garden of Eden.
Now I have to ask myself what Adam and Eve could see with these senses, that we cannot.
Could it be that it was visible to them that giving to others enriched their own soul?
Could they distinguish clear and specific evidence that anger always made them sick?
I wonder what it looked like to watch a heart shrink when it thought only of itself and no one else?
Could they see life pass from them to others as they loved freely and without condition?
Could they see a mind turn black if it were to conceive selfish gain at the cost of others?
And what of this: For those of us who live now without those senses, how do we live? Well the obvious answer would be that One who CAN see should speak to us and guide us. He should provide us with ways that we can interact with this invisible reality and not come to any harm because of what we cannot see.
In fact this is exactly what God did. He spoke to His people and He provided them laws. Commandments if you will. His laws were not so much rules and requirements, as they were simply descriptions of reality. He didn’t tell us a rule about honoring our parents, He told us that one way to avoid things, not going well, is to honor your parents. This is the equivalent of telling the blind man, turn left, and take two steps. Then turn right. It will go well with your shins, if you DO NOT step that way.
God describes the nature of reality to us so that we might benefit if we listen and believe.
Now imagine the blind man deciding he is tired of this benevolent direction-giver always interfering with his fun.
“What if I want to walk quickly in this direction?” He might demand. “What if I want to run to my left?”
“It will not go well with you on the earth” the benevolent direction-giver would say.
It would be ridiculous for that blind man to step in the opposite direction, and then reject the Giver-of-Directions, simply because he bruised his shin.
I am glad I would never do that.
Do you have any ideas for senses that we may have left behind at the fall of man?