The Sum of an Elephant

There is a parable out of India about three blind men who are brought before an elephant and asked to explain what the elephant is like.  One of the men reaches out and touches the leg and concludes that an elephant is thick and round and much like a column or pillar.  Another man puts his hand on the trunk and concludes that an elephant is slender and flexible and must be something like a snake.  The last man pushes on the elephant’s side and determines that it is broad and unmovable like a large wall.  Sometimes the parable includes five or six men, and you can see from the picture above than there is no shortage of perspectives one could take.  The moral of the story is that everything is relative.  Each of the blind men told the truth based on their experience with the elephant, but no one man’s truth could exclude another’s.  No truth took precedence, even in the face of completely opposite claims.

I think this parable is an incredibly beneficial illustration for our world today, but for a different reason.  If our quest is to find out what an elephant really is, then what are we doing asking blind men when there is one who came to give sight to the blind.  Why trust a man’s limited experience with an elephant when there is one who created elephants?  The religious discussion is full of men espousing experiential truth from their own narrow perspective, but God, the creator and sustainer of the universe, has chosen to speak to us through His Word, the Bible.  We should place a higher priority on God’s word because His perspective is infinitely wider than ours.  He knows more about elephants than 6.7 billion blind men ever could.

Perhaps you don’t believe in God, or that He has communicated to man through the Bible.  That is ok.  My point here is not to convince you of His existence, but to simply show that He is necessary if we are ever to know the true purpose for our existence.  Without the broad perspective of the One who set the universe in motion, we have no hope of true understanding.  We are merely blind men groping around in the dark, thinking the sum of an elephant is a snake.