The power of metaphor

So, yesterday I got an email from someone who doesn’t understand what a metaphor is. And upon hearing the words “it’s as if” did not realize that what came afterwards was not meant literally. The actual construction was “it’s as if you told me you believe in invisible flying pigs.” It’s in a video I made on youtube. Anyway, this person sent me an angry email telling me that they don’t believe in invisible flying pigs as that would be ridiculous. (sigh)

Ok. So what is a metaphor and why are they important? Ignore the fact my example is actually that of an analogy. A metaphor is a way of comparing two different things as a way of showing how they are the same. My construction was that someone telling me they believe in god is the same as if they told me they believe in invisible flying pigs. Both are ridiculous to me – not to be offensive to anyone of faith – it is just if faith made sense to me I wouldn’t be an atheist. Would I?

Anyway the reason metaphor is important is because if you take everything literally, then when Jesus says he is the bread and water of heaven – you would think the man was literally made out of bread and water. Which of course would be ridiculous even though the 2nd half is of course, true, we humans do have a lot of water in us. This passage is best understood as metaphor – as in, he is as central to heaven as food and water is to life itself. In other words, without Jesus, no heaven. See how much more interesting things are when you understand metaphor?


  1. Pigs don't fly?

    Hehe! Personally, I wouldn't waste my time or energy on someone who doesn't understand metaphors.

  2. I know you are right Cheryl. But seriously! The email was breathtaking in its inanity.


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