“Seeing is believing” requires unbelievable believing

Atheists sometimes argue, “Seeing is believing. Only if you show me things like the soul will I believe in them.”

The belief underlying this slogan – anything invisible is unbelievable – is questionable. Very few, if any, philosophical reasons justify the belief that nothing exists beyond the visible. Throughout history, even diehard materialist philosophers, who claimed that matter is all that exists, usually ended up proposing that visible material things were made of invisible material components. So they believed things they couldn’t see.

Moreover, “seeing is believing,” if taken literally, would make most contemporary science unacceptable. Originally, science started off with the purpose of “explaining what we see.” (Remember Newton’s observing a fruit falling.) But most scientific explanations for the visible required proposing invisible concepts such as gravity. So, leaving “seeing is believing” behind, science adopted the principle of “explaining what we see by postulating and provisionally believing what we can’t see.”

As science progressed further, its object of study such as the Higgs Boson became so subtle that they could be “seen” only by ultra-expensive instruments such as the 9 billion dollar worth Large Hadron collider. So, leaving “seeing is believing” far behind, science adopted the principle of “explaining what we believe we see by proposing what we believe is its cause.” In most advanced science, neither observation nor inference is visible. And yet much of this science works, thereby vindicating that invisible things exist.

So, “seeing is believing” requires unbelievable believing, believing that nothing exists beyond the visible. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (15.10) reproaches as asinine (vimudha) those who insist on seeing with physical eyes. Instead, it recommends more sophisticated and appropriate means of seeing – the eyes of knowledge (jnana-chakshushah). Spiritual knowledge received through scripture and realized through purification gives us access to layers of reality beyond the visible and the material, wherein exists the invisible, non-material soul.

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