Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Skeptical Inquirer

The Skeptical Inquirer:
“If this religion boasted that it had a clear sight of God and plain and manifest evidence of his existence, it would be an effective objection to say that there is nothing to be seen in the world which proves him. . . . But . . . on the contrary it says that men are in darkness. . .”
"What reason do I have to subordinate the possibility of God’s existence to the powers of my senses?"
"Ask any sensible person if it is possible that God exists, does not present himself to us by way of material evidence, and yet seeks our acknowledgment on some other basis, one in which we are more deeply invested. Could there be a God who does not want to be known the way the facts of nature are known or sums are known? The rational person will say, 'Yes, it is possible.'"
"There are only two kinds of people one can call reasonable: those who serve God with all their heart because they know him and those who seek him with all their heart because they do not know him."
"His rational power of imagining has atrophied from selective use in the service of his pleasure."
These are excerpts from a great article. It is not clear writing but it is worth untangling.

Of the two kinds of people that one can call reasonable, I would (humbly or not) put myself in the second category--seeking, but not knowing. It may seem strange to those who would know me to be (humbly or not) a devout believer. Fact is, I have searched my mind and my heart for that organ which "feels" belief like my fingers feel the keyboard or even like my mind feels a memory. It isn't there. And no one I know with a firm belief in a God they "know" can describe that sensation to me either. No one can point to the organ I need to tickle in order to stimulate belief. I even tried for a time to simply be an unbeliever but it didn't work. My body doesn't cooperate. My mind may thrash and doubt, but my body dresses me and takes me to church where my lips kiss, my hand genuflects, my waist and neck bend my forehead to the floor, and my mouth confesses. So I stopped struggling against this other part of me that believes. I threw my lot in with the believing side against the side that does not believe. Bishop BASIL tells me that the fight will get easier with time. Father Joseph tells me that I'll simply get used to the struggle.

Articles like this one help me. They are no foundation--the only foundation is prayer--but well-put-together intellectual arguments deal a heavy blow to the strongest doubter inside of me--my intellect (humble or not). Actually, it is not even my own intellect, when I think about it. It is someone else's intellect--some imaginary person who is smarter than I am and who is demanding and smart defense of faith from me. Once, in the line for recess in the third grade, someone asserted that I am not smart. I insisted that I am and he quizzed me "what is 9 x9?" I couldn't pull up the answer on the spot and he took that as demonstrable proof of my stupidity. I have been doing imaginary battles with some form of that kid my whole life (even though I have not adequately memorized my multiplication tables). It is the problem with priding yourself on your intellect--constant fear that perhaps you aren't so smart after all. A fear fueled by the fact that, in the real world, your IQ and a $0.81 won't even get you a cup of coffee. So, these articles at least give me this: I'm not smart enough to articulate an intellectual foundation for belief, but someone else is and you'll just have to read that until I get smarter.


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