Perfect Chaos

The Blog of Author Steven Colborne

Everyday Mysteries

True philosophy is about a fascination with all that is mysterious in life. That’s why I have studied, and continue to study, philosophy; because I find it ceaselessly intriguing thinking about why we are here, what reality is, why we suffer, the nature of God, and other such questions that tap into the heart of the mystery.

One philosopher who I feel a real affinity with (because he thinks in a similar way about philosophy) is Brian Magee. Magee is a British philosopher who was educated at Oxford and mingled with some of the leading philosophers of the 20th Century, including Karl Popper, Bertrand Russell, and many others.

I’m currently reading Magee’s autobiography, and reading the first few pages I felt I could personally relate to his fascination with the simple everyday things most people take for granted. I will quote a passage from the book to give you an example:

I retain a vivid memory of myself… when I was seven or eight, standing in a shaft of sunlight in the corner of the kitchen by our back door… focusing my eyes keenly on the index finger of my right hand, which I held pointed upwards in front of my face. I’m going to count to three, I was saying to myself, and when I say ‘three’ my finger’s going to bend. Then I counted: One, two, thr– And sure enough on three my finger bent. How did I do it? I did it again. Then I thought: This time I’ll count to four. And on four my finger bent. Next time I counted to five. My finger bent on five. I tried dragging out the counting so as to catch my finger out: one, two… three… four… {wait for it}… five! But on five my finger, not caught napping at all, bent. I could bend my finger whenever I liked. Or not, just as I decided. Yet no matter how hard I concentrated I couldn’t grasp anything at all about how I did it. How could something that was so completely within my command, solely and entirely a matter of my own conscious decision, be a nothing for me, just simply no experience whatever, and yet happen? From that day to this the problem has fascinated me.

(Magee, B., Confessions of a Philosopher, Random House, 1997, p1-2).

In a way similar to Magee’s fascination with his ability to make his finger bend, during the height of my spiritual explorations I became fascinated with thought. I was spending a lot of time in meditation, a process which encouraged me to watch thoughts arising in my mind. I remember one day being sat on my bed and deciding to really closely investigate what a thought is and where my thoughts were coming from.

It was investigations such as this that led me to an awareness that there is a power making my thoughts arise, and that was a real revelation to me. It couldn’t be me making my thoughts arise because I couldn’t predict them, nor could I understand how I was making them arise. By thinking the problem through I arrived at the understanding that God must be bringing my thoughts into existence, and in the same way as God is making my thoughts arise, I realised He must also be in control of all the other processes I experience as part of my aliveness.

I believe that understanding the omnipresence of God provides the solution to the problem that fascinated Magee, who, being an atheist, would never have accepted that God was the answer to the finger-bending mystery.

If you’re interested in reading a more detailed explanation of why I believe God is in control of our thoughts, I invite you to read this article which is also an extract from my book entitled Ultimate Truth: God Beyond Religion. I highly recommend Magee’s excellent and beautifully presented history of philosophy entitled ‘The Story of Philosophy’, which you can find here. Thank you for reading!

5 responses to “Everyday Mysteries”

  1. I think I feel a similar way about God. So many anomalies are happening to us all the time that it is impossible to say that we are in control of everything. Thank you for a great read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kat! Thank you so much for reading. I agree with what you said and I’m glad you can relate 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. […] For this week’s Thursday Theology post I shared some reflections that were admittedly more philosophical than theological, but there is of course crossover between the two subjects. In the post I shared a quote from Brian Magee’s autobiography about his fascination with bending his index finger. Intrigued? You can read the post here. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Really great little post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks so much for reading 😊

      Liked by 1 person

Steven Colborne

About Me

Hello, I’m Steven and I’m a philosopher and author based in London. My main purpose as a writer is to encourage discussion about God. I write about a wide variety of subjects related to philosophical theology, including divine sovereignty, the nature of God, suffering, interfaith dialogue and more. My mantra: Truth heals.

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