This is the home of the 'serious' a4g. To visit my dark side, go to Point Five. (The dark side seems to post every day... Why do you think that is?)

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Glienecker Bridge, Part II

My wife and I were discussing religion, as always, and the kids were rolling their eyes and begging us to stop, and she said something that struck me.

“You’re very logical.”

I was struck by how incongruous was her statement when juxtaposed with my own estimation of myself. For logical is not the word I would use to describe my particular mental cancer. Rather, I consider myself to be intuitive to a fault, one of the reasons that the posts come so slowly here at a4g. It is hard to translate into words what I experience as essentially pure… experience.

Once upon a time I intended to be a novelist. It was easy when I was a capital-A Atheist. Pronouncements flowed from my fingers and challenges rolled forth like the peal of thundering men before a battle. I was a warrior, and the page was my field of choice. Mine was a holy crusade to remake the world in my own image. That, perhaps, remains. And yet, the plan changed somewhere along the way. There was to be no 'great American novel.'

The easy explanation for the divergence from that untaken path is that “life got in the way.” But that is not really what happened. For there is always some time available for such passionate pursuits (even as a father of five), no matter how small. Yet as we added each child, though my desire to write remained, I found I was gradually losing my voice. I moved into a place where words could no longer express the vistas I saw spread out before me.

Yes, I wanted to write. But I know longer knew what to write.

Especially in the last two years, I have touched places of such indescribable beauty and symmetry that there are no words I can bring back to capture the force and completeness of the pure experience I have lived. Sometimes this joy has occurred in the depth of contemplation, or laughing in the car with my family, or sobbing at the fate of Terri Schiavo. Perhaps it’s just that I am growing up. Yet each time, I am left stuttering and laryngitic, with no force in my diaphragm to expel the words I long to say.

Yes, yes. I know. I love you, God. Take me, break me, save me.

But then what? The slow crawl of reason chewing the insulation off the wires. Because God doesn’t yet fit my picture of what He must be.

“How can you judge God?” asks my wife. “You’re missing the point.”

“But we all judge God, and find the one that suits us. Catholic or Unitarian? Hindu or Buddhist? The God of our parents or the God of our rebellion?

"How is my judgment of the existence or non-existence of God any different than you choosing which religion is ‘the right one’? Should an Anglican stay an Anglican when they allow priests to marry –each other? Is it incumbent upon the Anglican to find a way to accept this as God’s will?

"Or does right reason turn him against this?”

Of course, the Church has a long tradition of natural law that speaks to this very issue. Aquinas sought to find a path to the garden of the Lord through Reason, and not mostly for the very practical reasons of converting men like me, but rather, for the love of God and his Creation.

The Church is what draws me more than any other faith I have encountered, because of its 2000 year treasury of contemplation and exegesis. Because it declares its love for Truth and Reason like an excited child bursting with innocence and enthusiasm and a burning need to share its joyful discovery.

Yet there are places where I recoil. Stigmata, relics, incorruptibles. Angels and saints and miracles. These are the things I can't even begin to contemplate, because they seem to me insurmountable walls that my mind can not mount.

So God and I stand at either end of a concrete bridge, and I am held hostage by my doubts in the tense encounter. The lights are garish and the shadows deep.

And He beckons me to cross.

I am willing to suspend disbelief, for now, knowing that the secret to belief is in accepting the premises. The supernatural phantasms that lurk in the shadows I will leave to the contemplations of another day. My feet hit hard against the roadbed.

If we accept that God is perfectly and fully Just, and perfectly and fully Merciful, there are certain corollaries that may be contemplated. It seems to me that all of Creation, emanating from God, must be as perfectly ordered as God himself. There are, of course, many heretical traps that can be fallen into on this path, and I beg the reader’s forgiveness if I seem wandering into the murky bog beside the clear way – I hope it is a inadequacy of my words and not my reasoning which would seem to take me there.

The God across the bridge must have created a world which is fully and completely informed by His existence. The shadows of God must cast deep into every aspect of the universe, every angle reflecting back at His greater Glory. This is not to say that God is contained within the universe, but rather that the universe is fully contained within God. His breath animates the essence of everything. I discussed something of this concept in a previous post, Of Science, Supersymmetry, and the Holy Trinity. The idea is that the reality of everything is contained in the secret names (used metaphorically) that only God knows. That ‘is’ is not an emergent perception, but rather a concrete reality of the Divine Will.

So the key, then, to finding God, is to find Him in the clues He has left all around us. There can be no contradiction, no place where “reality” conflicts with God. I described it to my wife as a puzzle, with ‘material reality’ as a many faceted piece and ‘the supernatural’ as another. My goal being to rotate one or the other until I can find the proper fit.

So it is not that I am trying to change God to fit my requirements, but instead that I am trying to discover how my requirements are pointing me to God.

The challenge is expressed in a list of contradictions that I keep meaning to write down but that never seems to fully gel until a post spews forth. Still, they are my own theses nailed to the cathedral door.


How can God be present in all times and not be an immutable object?

How can Salvation History be consistent with the infinite perfect Truth that must be God's shadow on the universe?

How can the angels be greater beings than man, when man's physicality and spirituality avails him more perfect communion with all the persons of God?

In what sense can free will be free, in the face of God's perfect knowledge?

How can Man, composed of God, exist in Hell? How can Hell exist when God is infinite Hope?


Unlike Luther, I post them not to challenge the Church, but myself.
I don't get it. Atheists do not believe that god or any other supernatural beings exist. Maybe you are something other than an atheist?
 
The term 'agnostic' seems to me the height of weasly cravenness. One throws one's support behind God or not-- I can't see a middle ground.

So although I am considering the possibility of the existence of God, I still don't-- and have never-- believed.

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I enjoyed the read, thanks. I think that at times, we are so dauntingly limited in our senses and our tools that we are utterly unable to disprove or prove the existence of god. Richard Dawkins says its highly improbable, but he never debunks the idea. What I mean to say is that during my limited 18 years of age I have come to believe that it's not about whether god exists or not, but about the implications that occur when we realize he is unprovable in this day and age. Quoting Epicurus, "Don't fear god,
Don't worry about death;
What is good is easy to get, and
What is terrible is easy to endure."

Just a thought. Maybe god exists, maybe he doesn't but that should move us left or right otherwise, we should be moved by our notions of humanity and well-being.

Sorry about my english, it's not my first language.
 
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