Is Perception Reality?

By Mark Kennedy (ACSI Canada)

Every now and then I hear it, even in Christian school circles. “Perception is reality”, they say with a kind of unquestioning conviction that suggests the discovery of a new immutable truth. 

This, along with other snippets of pop business philosophy, have steadily made inroads into the board rooms of churches and Christian schools. Some are quite useful. It is not that we can’t gain insights and understanding from effective business principles and practices. The fact is that all truth, even in the area of business, is God’s truth. The problem comes when we accept any philosophical assertion without testing it against the teaching of scripture.

And that is my concern about the “Perception is reality” concept. In keeping with post modern thinking it implies that people can have their own private self-created realities –their own personal truths.

Some people reason that if only they could manipulate those perceptions effectively they would be able to get what they want –in our schools that could mean creating new pro Christian school “realities” in people’s minds.
It seems to me that the whole idea is false. We can’t have our own private versions of reality anymore than we can have our own personal definitions of truth. And Christians more than anyone should realize that truth (which is the only genuine reality) exists despite our perceptions. William Blake puts it well in his poem, The Eternal Gospel.

“Thus Life’s five windows of the soul
Distort the heavens from pole to pole,
And lead you to believe a lie
When you see with, not through the eye.”

To my thinking the final word on the subject comes from Isaiah. In chapter 11 verses 3 and 4 he contrasts the undependable nature of personal perceptions and with God’s truth.

“He will not judge by what he sees with his eye,
Or decide by what he years with his ears
But with righteousness he will judge the needy
With justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.”

Nuff said.