What’s a hand doing in deep space?
And what’s it attached to?
Is God just a big hand?
Wait a minute. Is that a hand at all?
The so-called “Hand of God” is the result of a combination of NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuStar, combined with Chandra X-ray Observatory’s imaging. God (and Superman) only knows what that pulsaristic, X-ray, and magnetic energy stuff’s about.
That we humans jump quickly to proof of what we so desperately want proof of is telling.
When familiar objects are seen in otherwise vague ways, a phenomenon known as pareidolia is at work. Examples include seeing the face of Jesus in an apple core or your neighbor’s poodle in a cloud. When the need to believe is strong enough, we “see” what reinforces what we believe. Those who are especially adept at recognizing and interpreting such “signs” are attributed with magical abilities that enable them to understand the past, explain the present, and foresee the future. They’re called shamans, therapists, or witches, and every culture has them.
Anyone who holds the hand of God is powerful indeed.
Our fervency at making a disconnected connection can be seen everywhere in our lives, not just in questions about transcendence. When we’re always looking for signs, signs are always found. For some of us, magical thinking beats realism every time: I’m always a bit miffed when my husband can “explain scientifically” what tingles to believe. Like yeti or synchronicity.
A peek at the animal kingdom demonstrates how natural it is to go for glitzy — brightly colored and smiling is more alluring than earth-toned and frowning. If you still aren’t convinced, go to Vegas. Shake its pockets and the likely fallout will be all manner of charms, amulets and carved stones. If you’ve ever played anniversary or birth dates in the lotto, you’re exercising the same belief in magical power.
How powerful is it to “know”?
People have been hung or burned alive for failing to share explanations we want, figure they have, but would rather die than tell. Curiously, we never fault our dysfunctional thinking when plague continues after we’ve roasted all the cats.
Distressed couples or the chronically ill may get caught up in the myths of “other reasons”, blaming themselves or those around them for what is ultimately ours to carry, even when understanding is absent. Better communication in marriage or the development of chronic illness are examples.
Nevertheless, many of us feel helpless when comprehension fails. So far-reaching is our need to know that we look outside ourselves for a “magic cure”, “quick fix”, or to blame. It’s as if we were cognitively incapable of apprehending knowledge by ourselves, alone.
Facing the Great Unknown is frightening.
We call for help that protects, soothes, and explains.
And that’s as good a reason as any to search out the Hand of God.
Kathe Skinner is a Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Relationship Specialist. She’s especially keen on working with couples whose relationship includes invisible disability (e.g., cancer, lupus, hearing loss, depression). Kathe and her husband, David, live in Colorado with their two cats, Petey and Lucy. They know that holding the hand of god is as easy as adopting a pet.
©BeingHeard LLC, 2014