We are more than the sum of our parts

See that guy welding... uncombined the arm is his size!

See that guy welding. The arm he is welding is
his size when it disconnects and becomes a robot!

If you didn’t know it, I am a huge Transformers fan. Growing up there were Transformer teams known as combiners; a half dozen robots would join together and become a larger robot. Something weird happened when they combined – the new combined robot was much larger than what you would expect when you sum up the mass of the 5 or 6 robots that were combined together. An example of this exaggeration would be that one robot would make up the entire leg of a combiner and be 4 times taller than he was as a robot. As kids we didn’t need an explanation, but as adults looking back it doesn’t follow logic. Since the 80’s airing of Transformers, the fan base has taken a word from German and applied it to this phenomenon: “gestalt“, which is a word that means more and different than the sum of its parts. It is interesting that the modern writers picked up on it and have since run with it. In the new comics the Transformers have lost the secret of gestalt and are fighting to re-discover it.

As Christians I think it is important to realize that every person is more than the sum of their parts.  Man is not just merely a collection of cells designed to perform various bodily functions that come together for a job. When our cells first are formed the Creator adds something that we cannot see, something that makes us more than the sum of our genetic and cellular parts. Something blocks us from feeling the pain of millions of cells dying every minute, and the joy of millions of cells being created. A great mystery happens and we are given a will and an intellect. Biological sciences have never been able to explain how our will and intellect appears out of this sum of lesser parts. Somehow we have become more and different than a mass of 37 trillion walking cells.

Social sciences has no answer for another gestalt phenomenon: the body of the Catholic Church. Composed of 1.3 trillion sinners she has managed to survive for thousands of years. How has this organization managed to do this? Why isn’t it the largest mafia in the world? When Catholics come together as the Church they become more than the sum of individuals, a Will and an Intellect guides them. This Will and Intellect is the Holy Ghost which, as promised, descended on the Church at Pentecost and has guided her ever since. The Catholic Church also gains powerful intercessors when one of its members dies and enters heaven. Led by our Lord Jesus Christ, death is turned into a victory for mother Church, who becomes stronger when each soul enters heaven.

On the surface our body is just 37 trillion cells moving about, eating and drinking, but in reality we know we are gestalt, and so much more. We want to do great things; we desire to know much more. Mother Church’s body may look like 1.3 trillion sinners, but in reality the Church is much more than the sum of these individual sinners and their sins here on earth. In a way, you could say our bodies are “more than meets the eye“.

The picture comes from IDW comic Combiner Wars 09 Streetwise. You can download it for free from Hasbro here.

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