Suspension of Disbelief

August 15, 2017
By: Muin Saiyed


In storytelling, and most especially in film we have a concept that we all agree to and accept known as the suspension of disbelief. This is the notion that we suspend our disbelief of certain things such as a man from Krypton saving Earth from Alien forces. Such as the idea of a spider biting a human to make him spiderman or even such far fetched things as “The Upside Down” from Stranger Things or a talking tea pot. We even have a notion of the suspension of disbelief when it comes to lass fantastical stories like Taken where we suspend the belief that someone could be as boss as Liam Neeson.

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However, what we don’t suspend is the idea of logic and rationality. When you listen to a story, or watch a film, or read a great novel you agree subconsciously to suspend your disbelief and accept the rules of the kingdom which you are going to enter. You agree to accept that Superman can fly through the sky and is affected by Kryptonite but what you don’t agree to is a suspension of logic and rules. Although the laws of the kingdom in the story may be different, the rules must make sense, logic permeates all kingdoms. It would be rationally absurd for Spider-Man to start flying or for Superman to start shooting spider webs, they fall outside the realms of the universe you’re in. If Superman can fly and is affected by Kryptonite then it makes perfect rational sense that if Kryponite is around, Superman can’t fly. But if all things hold true, no kryptonite, the sun is out, he still has his powers, superman should be able to fly. You see the rules must make sense, logic still applies.

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And this is why we find in movies where things don’t make sense like how Keanu Reeves makes that 50 ft bus jump in Speed ridiculous. Isn’t it interesting that when someone hears the story of Cinderella no one asks, “hey why does Cinderella’s charm wear off at 12 AM, why can’t it have waited 2 extra hours and worn off at 2 AM.” No one says this because they accept that if a Pumpkin can turn into a carriage, it’s something you don’t question, by the same token if she needs to be back by 12, then that must be part of the rules. Those rules cannot be broken.

And it’s for this exact reason why I’ve found it strange when folks find it odd that believers put faith in such fantastic matters as Jesus (peace be upon him) walking on water, Moses (peace be upon him) splitting the sea, or Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) riding the Buraq to Jerusalem. These things may be fantastical to you but they are not in any way irrational.

They may be strange to some, but that’s only because they haven’t accepted the rules of the kingdom of God. They are no less rational than 1+1. And as a matter of fact I would argue that they are in no way any more ‘fantastical’ than a flower blooming from a seed or the sun rising every morning, or a writer penning a beautiful soliloquy. It is all within the kingdom of God and although it may appear less frequently and happen less often, a man walking on water is no less true, no less fantastical, and no less rationally existent than the aurora borealis, just because you haven’t seen it, doesn’t make it any less real.