Linking the Science of Senses to the Deeper Needs of Our Soul: “Echolocation and the Gift of Sight.”

Leonardo DaVinci once said, “The five senses are the ministers of the soul.” Every moment of every day we use these to help us navigate and experience the world around us. As scientists study the human body, we have gained a greater understanding of how each sense is used to help us gain information. Ongoing investigations continue to demonstrate how each one positively impacts our health and wellbeing. As a Christian, when I read or hear about some of these scientific studies I am often struck by the way God uses our senses to understand who He is and how He created us. This week we will take a brief look at a few of these and relate them to a familiar passage of Scripture to see how they can illuminate and refresh our perspectives.


“Echolocation and the Gift of Sight.”

But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.  For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

Matthew 13:16-17

blindFor those who are vision impaired, walking around an unfamiliar location typically requires them to depend on someone who can see. Once they make a mental map of a new location, they can then use a walking stick to help them get around. Even so, they still do not have the kind of freedom that comes with the ability to see.

Daniel Kisch was blind from the age of one but didn’t let his inability to see keep him from figuring out his way around. As a young boy, he realized that he could use echolocation to help him gain a sense of the space around him. By snapping the tip of his tongue against of the roof of his mouth he created a sharp popping sound. The sound waves that were produced then bounced off of objects, structures and people around him. As he analyzed the volume of the returning click, he was able to generate a reliable picture in his mind of the environment.

Daniel has become so proficient as this ability to echolocate, that he freely moves about. He rides a bike, climbs mountains, and even camps in the wilderness all by himself. Even though he is technically blind, echolocation allows him to picture what is around him in his mind.

Daniel now commits much of his time to helping other vision impaired people learn how to click and listen. Hundreds of children and adults can now see with their ears as they tune in to sound waves. As more and more people have gained this ability, scientists have been probing underlying brain activity to better understand what happens when they echolocate. It appears that while they are clicking and listening, there is quite a bit of activity in the visual cortex, the primary area in the brain that interprets visual information.

When compared to people who are not vision impaired, they actually appear to have more extensive activity in this “visual” region of the brain. Even though they cannot see like you and me, they are able to create complex pictures, images, and maps in their mind based solely on the auditory feedback they receive. Perhaps, they can even see what we will never see.

To see without eyes. Can you imagine the freedom blind people can have if they can learn this skill? Perhaps, we can—for this is our story, too. We who were once blind have been granted the ability to see the “light of the glory of the gospel” (2 Cor. 4:4). This did not happen, however, by anything that we accomplished or acquired. God himself opened up our eyes and delivered us from a spiritual blindness that shackled us and kept us isolated from the life He has for us.

As you navigate your way through this day, delight in the miracle of being able to see yourself, others, and the world around you with your Father’s eyes.


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