Archive for August, 2009

Evangelical Hero

Posted in Humour etc. on August 16, 2009 by RWZero

Evangelical_Hero

The Disinterested Mind

Posted in Faith Experience on August 12, 2009 by RWZero

Blank Space Between the Lines

When I emerge from a dream, there is a moment where the waking world and its cares are suspended, as if by a thread, and weighed against those of the dream. All at once, the contest tips in reality’s favour, and the sense of urgency, which just then was palpable, has altogether vanished. I am left only with a trace of the paradigm that consumed me throughout the night; a paradigm in which the strangest things were important, and the strangest things were true.

To have faith, I must believe that the things of my waking paradigm are both important and true. I must believe that this paradigm is equally shared among us. Yet I fear that my waking world may be as a dream world to others, and vice versa. I question whether faith involves ideas so foreign to some people, that they could not be expected to care for them.

I have noticed that many find the implications of God, or any higher truth, simply unimportant—yet not in the way that one is indifferent to parental warnings, but in the way that one is indifferent to dreams. The human mind can generate the most obtuse and bizarre priorities. Some live only to study physical curiosities with little concern for human affairs. No concept of morality can be demonstrated to a mind that has no interest in receiving it, even if this mind is a minority of one. All this reminds me of the subjective nature of the human paradigm; that some ideas are so esoteric and far off from us, at different times, that we might be said to have a “disinterested mind” with respect to them. This one observation is foremost among the difficulties that plague me: that it is possible to remain oblivious to the very idea God. I never felt that, if such a thing were true, I should be capable of living a life so thoroughly ignorant of it.

The truths that I refer to are not scientific truths. Even if we go through life completely unaware of the mechanical workings of the universe, we are still subject to them. No one has ever subverted natural law by ignoring it. Religious faith and moral beliefs are uniquely human conditions of the mind, and they are contingent upon the interpretation of experiences that may vary wildly from person to person, and in some people, lack altogether.

Faith has implications for relationships, morality, ethics, love, and human nature. While it claims to provide some answers about the physical world, it has only implications for the aforementioned things—and what of the people who drift through life with only a vague awareness of them? Consider an eccentric man, who spends all his days in isolation studying the most obscure mathematical patterns. Orthodox religion might regard him as someone who has rejected God. But it is difficult to imagine how he has rejected God, when his mind has not dealt in the things of God.

God interrupts perfunctory tasks in a way that no person, and no event, can. I am required to step into a different paradigm when I think about God, re-casting every detail of my life in a new light. It requires no such energy to get through a normal business day. For this reason, simply staring blankly at an object on my desk—with my mind bereft of higher thoughts—makes me wonder how any greater truth can exist than the truth that has implications for me in that moment. Materialists may say that this I am right to think this way, since they have decided that all truth is, in fact, manifest there.

My belief in God requires me to believe that there is a human experience that we are intended to have, and that our response to God has implications for this experience. But in real life we are so surprisingly unrestrained, and everything is so silent. The states of mind that give meaning to faith, and that faith gives meaning to, occur only at certain times and places. Furthermore, they occur differently for others than they do for me, and I am unable to discern by how much. At the very least, I am convinced of how my own life ought to be lived, and my own thoughts resolved. Although I may hold that God requires a commensurate response from others, as I write this I am more diffident than ever in specifying what that entails.

Militant atheists do not frighten me, for they speak of faith with familiarity. Disinterested minds frighten me, for they do not speak of faith at all.

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I once had a dream that involved Jesus (a very rare event). The dream made absolutely no sense, and when I woke up I remember thinking that if Christianity were true, it shouldn’t be the sort of thing that could be dreamt about in that way. At first glance, this could be dismissed as silly, since it’s possible to have absurd dreams about any other thing that is true. But in contrast to materialism, religious faith insists not on particular truths, but on an additional type of truth. It is a type of truth which I did not imagine should have that quality—that is, that the paradigm that validates it could be completely abandoned by such a simple shift in my state of consciousness. I strongly believe that much can be accomplished by thought experiments, and at that time, it felt as if I had performed one that invalidated what I believed.

Meaning

Posted in The Facts and Ideas on August 2, 2009 by RWZero

In the Mind of the Beholder

You may say that things are too meaningless for there to be a God, but you are one of those things. I cannot imagine how we might deny greater meaning without, in the same breath, embodying it.