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Ferdinand Magellan was the Spanish explorer who led the first expedition to sail around the world. As he approached the tip of Argentina, in the year 1520, he came to the region he named Tierra del Fuego (land of fire), because there were natives on the shore tending several large fires. But as the great ships passed by the natives, who had surely never seen nor heard of sailing vessels in their lives, they completely ignored the ships as though they did not exist. When Magellan and his crew landed he learned that they had considered the ships unreal, an apparition, because they were so unlike anything they had seen before.


Magellan’s experience with the natives of Argentina is a metaphor of modern civilization. We see sights around us every day that point to God’s presence and we dismiss them as unreliable, because they are beyond our experience in the world as we know it. We have kept ourselves from seeing and understanding the spiritual and supernatural world around us because of a fixed mindset that is unwilling to accept the concept of God. Jacques Monod expresses the current worldview of those like him who refuse to see what is right before them: “Man must learn to live in an alien world that is deaf to his music and is as indifferent to his hopes as it is to his sufferings or his crimes. . . . Man at last knows that he is alone in the unfeeling immensity of the universe, out of which he emerged only by chance.”

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