Perceptual Damage: Part 1, The Noetic Effects of Sin

As regular readers and readers of Hunting Magic Eels know, I've been writing and thinking a lot about the perceptual aspects of faith. Faith as vision, faith as seeing, faith as attention.

These explorations have led me to places within the Christian tradition concerning what is called "the noetic effects of sin."

The word "noetic" comes from the Greek word noein, "to perceive." The noetic effects of sin concern how sin affects our perception.

Most of us think of sin in moral terms. Sin is a moral failure, missing the moral mark, disobeying God's law. But the Bible and the Christian tradition also describes sin as having perceptual consequences. Sin affects our vision. Phrased differently, sin has epistemological consequences, affecting our ability to know and how we envision the truth

Simply, the noetic effect of sin is perceptual damage. Blurred vision. A wounded mind. 

This changes how we might think about being "lost." Growing up in a conservative Christian tradition, "lost" has generally meant for me "damned," heading to hellfire. But from a noetic perspective, lost can simply mean lost. As in, you have no idea where you are or where you are going. Maybe because it is dark and you can't see. Maybe because you lost your compass and map. The issue is perceptual and epistemological. 

This is a helpful shift of focus. When I describe the world as being "lost," I don't have to think of people as being particularly depraved or going to hell. I can, rather, simply see people as lost, noetically lost--rudderless, confused, wandering, and directionless.

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