Stuffed Bird in Submarine with Ocean-Filtered Light


Once, while taking a ride in a “glass-bottomed boat” (a boat with a lower seating area and windows angled outwards) in the ocean, the tour guide mentioned how the ocean water absorbed certain wavelengths of light.  In deeper water, certain colors (starting with those of longer wavelengths, like red) were absorbed into the water, so the filtered light could no longer illuminate objects of those colors.  A colorful stuffed bird (the fuzzy kind, not the product of a taxidermist) in the hold of the boat was red in full sunlight, but turned black when lit by the filtered light, underwater.

In the same way, trying to find the right color wire under a yellow utility light can be a challenge, or attempting to find a pair of my (admittedly-faded) tan socks in a drawer with my white socks in the morning (while the light level in the house is still subdued).

When the light that we have isn’t full-spectrum, what we see loses detail.  We might not even be able to see certain things at all if they aren’t illuminated properly*.

In the beginning of the Bible, we see that establishing light was one of God’s first actions at the creation of the world:

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
Genesis 1:3 NASB

Without light, we couldn’t appreciate much of God’s creativity, as illustrated by His creation.  The colors of the sky, flowers, animals, and mountains wouldn’t be visible to us.  We could hear, smell, taste, and feel our way around, but so much of what we often take for granted is dependent upon the illumination of our world around us.  See also John 11:9-10.

We may pride ourselves on not living in the dark.  After all, we don’t live in the “Dark Ages”; instead we live in an age of technology (and energy-efficient LED light bulbs!).  We may even feel that we are “enlightened” – whether philosophically, or in the Buddhist sense.  But, Jesus made it clear that not only was the ultimate truth found in him (see John 14:6), but He was also, “the Light of the world”.

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
John 8:12 NASB

(See also John 9:3-5.)  If we want to understand the truth of the world around us – where we came from, what we were created for, what lies beyond what we can see – this truth cannot be found apart from Him.  We may surmise bits and pieces of the truth from the creation around us, but missing the role that Jesus had – as part of God’s overall plan – leads us to a washed-out and incomplete picture of reality.

Similarly, we can’t see everything if we aren’t evaluating our choices against the most comprehensive sources. Our comparisons should not be against other imperfect people (and their limited knowledge), but against God’s standards and His wisdom.

We cannot measure our choices against what I call “TV (or movie) morality”, where rules not only vary depending upon whether someone is a hero or a villain, but also change with the worldview of the director.  Instead, we must gauge not only what we see, but also what we do, against the “full-spectrum truth” of the Bible.

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
Psalms 119:105 NASB

Then – and only then – can we pass on a complete view of truth to others (see Philippians 2:14-16).

Without the light of God’s Word, we can’t see clearly.  On the other hand, though, once we have encountered Jesus as the Light of the world, we may agree with what the writer of the hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”, wrote:

…the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.


See also:


Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation.

  • For science buffs, you may have recognized that the title of this article matches a book by Sir Isaac Newton (although you may spell that book title, “Opticks”), which includes discussion about the spectrum of light.  I found it interesting to learn that Newton wrote about the Bible (although these works were published posthumously), as well as about science.  I discovered this when downloading Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John  That’s a pretty detailed book whose conclusions I am neither validating nor refuting here, but which may be of interest to some readers.

4 thoughts on “Optics”

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