For the rainbow experience to happen we need sunshine, raindrops, and a spectator. It is not that the sun and the raindrops cease to exist if there is no one there to see them… But unless someone is present at a particular point no colored arch can appear. The rainbow is hence a process requiring various elements, one of which happens to be an instrument of sense perception. It doesn’t exist whole and separate in the world nor does it exist as an acquired image in the head separated from what is perceived (the view held by the ‘internalists’ who account for the majority of neuroscientists); rather, consciousness is spread between sunlight, raindrops, and visual cortex, creating a unique, transitory new whole, the rainbow experience. Or again: the viewer doesn’t see the world; he is part of a world process.
After reading Manzotti’s explaination, my mind shifted to the biblical account:
And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.” — Genesis 9:12-15
In the story, the rainbow was a gift to Noah. If Manzotti’s understanding is accurate, then the ingredients (many days of raindrops + long-awaited sunbeams) and the “particular point” where Noah stood were absolutely necessary in order for him to experience the rainbow. The event was perfectly orchestrated, and resulted in a breathtaking surprise that was probably beyond Noah’s imagination (Ephesians 3:20-21). With an extraordinarily beautiful sign, God declared Noah secure.
In order to experience the rainbow – to receive the rich and colorful promise of God’s security and protection – there must first be the storm, then the emerging sunshine. And we must allow God to place us, trusting that right where we are (in this very moment, whether we’re comfortable or not) is right where we need to be.
Look around. On this day, are you waiting for or witnessing the rainbow?
ps. these photos make me very happy.