One of the most interesting examples of how a man can see what he wants to see, how a man’s will affects his mind and vision, is the case of Percival Lowell (1865-1916).
He was born into a wealthy, high-society Boston family, graduated from Harvard, was a brilliant mathematician and successful businessman, traveled widely in the Far East, learned several languages, and kept company with affluent, influential people.
Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was published when Lowell was a boy, and he accepted the doctrine of evolution wholeheartedly.
Later Lowell’s imagination was stirred by Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli’s 1893 book Life on Mars and the report of supposed “channels” on the red planet. Seeing this as proof that life existed on other planets Lowell set out to bring this “evidence” home for the evolutionary cause. He used his wealth to construct an astronomical observatory with a 24-inch telescope in the American west near the Grand Canyon. It was completed in 1894, and from then until his death 22 years later he studied Mars and published reports and books.
Eventually he “saw” and named 700 canals on Mars and came to believe that Martians were building canals in an attempt to save their planet. He even deduced many fascinating details about the lives of the Martian aliens.
Buried near his telescope, Lowell left his wealth for “the study of our Solar System and its evolution.”
The one small problem with all of this is that there are no canals on Mars and there are no Martians. In the 1970s the NASA Viking space vehicles orbited Mars and actually landed and roamed around on it, hunting for life, and found no evidence of canals or Martians.
How could an intelligent, well-educated man see canals and alien civilizations that do not exist? The answer is that he saw what he wanted to see. It is the same phenomenon that allows any evolutionary atheist to see evidence for Darwinian evolution when none exists. The Bible explains it as the deceit of the fallen human heart and willful spiritual blindness.
It is possible to believe a lie and to believe it with all of one’s heart. I am so thankful to the Lord for opening my blind eyes nearly 40 years ago and showing me the truth in Jesus Christ.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
“In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Corinthians 4:4).
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