A Letter to a Friend- Poor Arguments for the Existence of a God and Personal Reflections on Theism

I apologize, again, for the sheer lapse of time between when you sent me the last two messages and now, when I am replying to them. A lot has happened in my life since then, and I presume that a lot has happened in yours; but despite the fact that an altered mind composes this letter to you, I assure you that it is not so altered as to deviate fundamentally from the mind that composed the last letter. My metaphysical ideas have evolved some, but they are still essentially those which you read so many months ago.

 

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On The Natural World:

 

You understand me correctly. To reiterate, I see a universe which is constant throughout, full of infinite diversity, yet somehow predictable and understandable in its unity. Sun Tzu says it better than I can:

 

“The musical notes are only five in number but their melodies are so numerous that one cannot hear them all.

The primary colors are only five in number but their combinations are so infinite that one cannot visualize them all.

The flavors are only five in number but their blends are so various that one cannot taste them all.

In battle [symbolically, in life] there are only the normal and extraordinary forces, but their combinations are limitless; none can comprehend them all.”

 

Adjust it for differences in the musical, artistic, and culinary understandings of Warring States China and Information Age America, and the principle remains the same. There are certain timeless and universal truths- Natural Laws, or Eternal Principles, or Divine Commands- which are objective in their existence, and in their combinations and interactions with each other, all the phenomena of our universe spring forth. They both drive things and constrain things. They are like Plato’s forms- they are perfection in this universe, for they are the only things which can neither be disobeyed nor defeated, neither by us nor by time. (This has implications for the fact that human beings see the realities the laws create as imperfect; more on that later.)

 

I take a leap of faith from here, in asking from whence these eternal principles come. Perhaps a satisfactory answer might be “They simply ARE.” Acceptance being necessary for maturity, everyone must eventually come to terms with reality as it is, understanding that there are some things they cannot change.

 

But instead I will defer to a famous apologist’s argument. Assuming causality is generally a trustable concept (not to a wholly deterministic level, perhaps, for uncertainty and chance and conscious caprice must be paid their due) it follows that all events have their causes. Trace the chain of causes and effects far back enough, like a near-perpetual line of fallen dominoes, and where must you arrive?

 

At the beginning.

 

But all the events in the history of the universe could not have been initiated by themselves; they could not self-initiate. It follows that there must have been an initiator, a First Cause, that could not have been one of the dominoes- a finger.

 

That finger is what we mean by God, when we speak of God as the Mover of the Universe. Similarly, if you trace the line of fallen dominoes back to the point when the eternal principles are the only things in existence, the question beckons- from whence did they come? There must have been a cause which brought them into existence. And it would seem that this cause must be similarly eternal, similarly immutable, similarly universal, yet all the more powerful, since it could bring these basic laws of reality of existence. This cause is what we mean by God, when we speak of God as the Lawmaker of the Universe.

 

Now this is not anywhere near proof for the personal, loving, flesh-materializing God the Christians believe in. But it does seem to be proof- granted, proof requiring a profound leap of faith- of a powerful force outside of our universe responsible for the creation and function of our universe. It is not verifiable, but it seems to make sense to imperfect minds. Were it provable, faith could not be faith.

 

I understand that you do not find my initial bit of data- the selfsameness of the universe- to be particularly inspiring, nor would most people. But it is the spirit of inquiry to search for the reasons behind all things, however meaningless or mundane they might seem.

 

On whether or not I am still a Catholic:

 

I suppose the answer to this question has been made obvious by recent events. I am indeed still a Catholic.

 

But in telling you that I am still a Catholic, I am not telling you much. I’m sure you have heard the immortal quip, “The only good Catholic is a dead Catholic.” (Meaning, of course, that the rules and regulations of the faith are so stringent and severe that no human being shackled within their resource-consuming, passion-inflaming, pleasure-desiring, waste-producing human body, and within their whimsical, capricious, mischievous, self-righteous human mind, could adequately say “I have not sinned” til their spirit had escaped to Elysium.) That applies to every living Catholic from myself to Pope Francis. Yet it goes beyond behavior into belief. Do you think it is possible that a billion broken Catholics worldwide could be so disciplined and faithful as to hold true in their hearts and minds even the narrowest range of fundamental beliefs, let alone complicated scriptures and doctrines? Someone very close to me was in confession recently. She told the priest that, in light of what she saw as unjust, unnecessary suffering, she had often found herself doubting the existence of God. “Well,” replied the priest, “I doubt whether there’s a God all the time! Join the rest of us!” There is a spectrum of devotion ranging from the apathetic Christmas-and-Easter churchgoers to the most rabidly judgmental and fanatical believers, to the humblest, most saintly and serene orders of monks and nuns. “Catholic” indeed has an objective meaning, but in itself says very little.

 

In my personal case, I am an active Catholic, in that I attend mass weekly, try to help in some way (choir and lecturing have been very rewarding,) and attend theological discussions because I find them interesting. I am a devout Catholic, in that I find sanctity in prayer and beauty in the sacraments, and find myself talking to and thanking God all the time.

 

But as far as alignment with the Church’s teachings goes, I am a very, very, very bad Catholic indeed. While I do not very much question whether or not God exists, (God being central to my metaphysics) I do question most of the Bible. I do not entirely agree with the Christian perception of a God of pure love (though I increasingly find more and more reason why that perception makes sense) and I have so many problems with the Gospels, not to mention the Old Testament, that most Christians would not call me Christian at all. Most importantly, my understanding of politics has led to my formulation of a worldly method of morality and discipline which is very, very far removed from the ways of Christ, the Beatitudes. I acknowledge the goodness of Christian living (you may disagree but in all honesty, I think with Ben Franklin that the life of Jesus Christ was morally the most commendable life ever lived, the best possible guide for a practical- or rather, impractical- system of morality,) but I do not choose to live it. As for the mysteries of the passion of the Christ, I believe in them emotionally, but cannot bring myself to believe in them rationally. I believe, emotionally, in my soul, that Jesus came to save me and all Mankind from our sin; but I cannot integrate this belief into my understanding of how the universe works.

 

I hope that helps you understand whether or not I am Catholic. Now, as to WHY I am Catholic (or more interestingly, why I believe in God) that is another story.

 

On the Arrogance of the Catholic Church:

 

I think you are exactly correct on this matter. One of the problems I’ve always had with the Catholic Church is its assertion that Man can know objective truth as it is. Now I am not a subjectivist; I do not believe that reality is only what we can perceive. I believe that there is a natural world, a natural law, and a moral law, all of which are objective in the sense that they exist independently of our minds. But, our minds being a part of that natural world, I doubt the assertion that we can know these things objectively- we see objective things through a subjective lens. That is, we can tell that there are things that are true, but we cannot comprehend or communicate in full accuracy that truth.

 

Everything- from the conditioning of the mind to the subjective construction of language to the creation of measures for making comprehensive order we can use for measurements- that we can perceive is at least in part influenced by our minds. And therefore I do not believe that the Bible I read is the Word of God, or even the intended meaning of the original writer. I stress again, this does not mean that objective truth does not exist- it merely means that I do not think we can comprehend it as it is.

 

So yes, I see the assertion of the Church that it knows truth as it is as an arrogant and dangerous principle. That is part of the reason why I do not take everything the Church teaches at face value. At the same time, a good many of the Church’s perspectives seem accurate to me, and I have faith in the things it teaches.

 

On Continued Revelation:

 

First, I am not quite sure what I think about Revelation in the first place.

 

But as regards religious practice revealing further truth to individuals, I must say that I see enough evidence to believe in it. There have been saints, there have been holy men and women, in the Catholic faith, and in all religions. And a study of the lives of these individuals brings forth the conclusion that they, by immersing themselves fully in the practice and contemplation of their religion, by dedicating themselves fully to their faith, attained higher and higher understandings of life and the universe, and emulated this in their lives and works. It is mysterious, and a lot of it doesn’t seem to make sense; but it is undeniable.

 

I have never been particularly interested in studies of the development of self-knowledge and consciousness and the like, but I believe they are the place to look when seeking to understand these lives. Yet it seems that many times, these lives begin to transcend things understandable by neuroscience and psychology, and just get plain weird, plain mysterious.

 

The big thing that I think is important to understand, however, is that this deepening of understanding is primarily a thing of the individual. The individual undergoing the process of living a dedicated and holy life might start seeing truths, but only so far as can help their own holiness. The most this can do at a level beyond the individual is provide inspiration for others, maybe a justification for further faith. I don’t think, however, that this provides ‘revelation’ in the sense that it can engender much further development in the religion or its doctrines. My second-to-most-recent blog post- “Man as an Analogue to the Universe”- details more fully my ideas about the moral capacities of individuals and incapacities of collectives.

 

On “Why does there have to be a ‘Why?’”:

 

Whitest Kids You Know can answer this better than I can:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqgiEQXGetI

@2:57

 

“Would you LISTEN to yourself?!?!”

 

It is in our nature to ask questions which we cannot find provable answers to, at least answers provable to our minds. The nature of inquiry is that we seek to find answers; the nature of human life is that we seek to find meaning. We have never stopped at “Because because.”

 

You may be right; it may be true, in fact, that there is no satisfactory answer to the question of why our universe exists. The existence of a Deity would not be a satisfactory answer, because such a state could not be proved by scientific or logical means, and the level of uncertainty and doubt would be unacceptable to a mind seeking to be satisfied. But it is the very nature of faith, that it must be an unsatisfactory answer- for if we could find true, indisputable proof of anything, we’d have no need for faith.

 

On Why and How Humanity Differs from Animals

 

This is one of the weakest points in my argument, as you well know, and I can provide you with no satisfactory and defendable answer as to why humans are different from animals. After all, my family treats Jingles like a human in many ways. I stand with John Muir on many, many aspects of the philosophy of nature, and it is as clear to me as it is to him that humans are clearly inferior in the face of the might of nature, in ways in which the animals are clearly our betters. And as regards the study of consciousness there is no way for me to prove (and only a few more ways for me to assert) that our consciousness is intrinsically different from that observed in other tissue.

 

Nonetheless, the fundamental difference of humans is a principle I hold true in the same way as I hold true the principle “I exist;” I have no way to prove it, and can easily be counter-argued against it, but someone who did not hold the principle in acceptance could not possibly understand why or how I held it. It is an instinctual intuition. Now, as you have posed to me several times in other conversations, instinctual intuitions- hunches- are never, ever reasonable or logical or defensible platforms to base positions off of. But I think they have the potential to be truer than most more defensible truths, as the great questions of virtue and ethics, when boiled down and debated over and over again until the cows are safely home, tend to be justifiable as ‘real’ by nothing more than similar hunches.

 

However, a lecture I read recently by the classicist Harvey Mansfield (a very unfair and biased lecture in some ways, yet a profoundly illuminating one in others) http://www.neh.gov/about/awards/jefferson-lecture/harvey-mansfield-lecture contains some bullet points on the subject of humanity-vs-animality expressed better than I can. “But the discovery of chimpanzee religion has not yet been reported. Chimps receive names from human beings with equanimity, but do not give themselves names. These are items yet to come in the imputed progress of chimpanzee civilization. Their greatest triumph, however, will be the achievement of science. For science, according to science, ought to be the most important attribute of human beings.”

 

There you have it. Three factors, three behaviors, which separate the human from the animal- the exploration and formulation of religion (and by extension, general philosophy,) the naming of individual beings, and the pursuit of dominion over nature through understanding. The first two certainly, and the third one arguably, at least in some instances, seem to me to indicate that what separates humans from animals is that we crave MEANING. Imagination, practicality, compassion, suffering, any slew of other behaviors could be exhibited among animals, I do not doubt. And not only these, but the heartless viciousness endemic to our nature, the ridiculousness expressed in our comic dramas from millennia of social thought, and the all-conquering fear in our hearts- these, too, I do not doubt, are present among animals, and we share with our brethren-in-organicity many good and ill qualities and tendencies, alloyed in our physical frames and fundamental urges and limitations and tendencies.

 

Sigmund Freud (drive for pleasure) and Alfred Adler (drive for power) do not, therefore, exhibit what makes us human. It is Viktor Frankl, who lived through Auschwitz with his psychiatric training and personal considerations intact, who identified the drive within us that makes us different from all the rest- and that was the drive for meaning. He attributed this to no divine fount, though he neither eliminated that such a fount might be the source. He, like you, and like so many of my good agnostic and atheist friends, merely took what he saw before his eyes, and reasoned that it must be integral to our human condition. In his personal life he believed devoutly, but so far as his science went he asserted nothing he could not prove. And he endeavored to prove that Man is Man because Man wants to mean something.

 

And the three factors listed by Mansfield seem to me to be emblematic of this drive for meaning. (Frankl’s own ideas state that meaning can be found through creating, through loving, and through suffering- incidentally, the three believed actions of the Christian God- but Mansfield’s are critical to the issue of human-animal difference so I use them here.)

 

Chimpanzee religion and philosophy- so far as we can tell, chimpanzees don’t ask the questions we ask. I don’t look for chimpantheons and chimpanzealots- I merely seek to know, does the ape wonder what the man wonders? (“Jingles, did you know that you exist?” “Mreow.” “I’ll take that as a yes.”) And the pessimist’s answer would be “No,” as chimpanzees display no outward signs of human awe and mysticism, which the earliest human remains certainly display. The optimist would say “We cannot communicate with chimpanzees sufficiently yet to know; but give science time, and we will know! It may be that they are far more profoundly spiritual than we are!” Now I am certain that you would argue to me that there is nothing special about us humans- that we are merely further along the evolutionary path than apes and pigs and dolphins and octopi. Intrinsic to this argument is the notion that consciousness evolves, and we are merely the MOST conscious of all beings at this present moment. Our animal friends may, with time, grow as wise or wiser than us. While a commendable argument and one not disprovable, I view it with caution.  I think the knowledge of one’s own existence, and the accompanying search for meaning, are not simply things which come with sufficient development- hopeful though the positive futurists might be, I sincerely doubt the eventual capacity of artificial intelligence to seek meaning for its existence, regardless of how far advanced it may get in computing and logic and algorithms and all the rest.  And I share the same doubt for animal consciousness- while again, there is nothing I can do to further or prove my point, I do not accept the notion that consciousness simply moves forward, eventually to reach the level we humans have reached and presumably to continue further into mystic individualism, to a future sunrise when all fully self-aware bacteria may bask in their own virtue and wisdom, accepting full well that they exist, are condemned to oblivion, and are the highest intelligence in the universe. Simply put- the organized search for meaning, something we humans engage in every day, does not seem to be something, I think, which other forms of life engage in, or would someday engage in given sufficient development, because I hold it to be intrinsic to humanity for whatever reason.

 

Chimpanzee naming- I think Mansfield touches on a really weird but nonetheless critical point here. Why are names so important? Why is it that, of all things human individuals have possessed throughout the ages, among the most sacred was the name? That appellation which held significance for his place among his fellows, which held significance for his life’s given purpose, which held significance for his own personal will (especially when he chose, for whatever ceremonial or personal reason, to CHANGE his name) and which he identified with perhaps more than any other single phrase? I think it is no mere coincidence that the taking-away of names has been, throughout recorded history, symbolic of removing the very humanity of individuals, and the bestowing of names has been symbolic of their elevation to a new purpose, a higher plane. You recall the conversation between a vengeful young Magneto and two ex-Nazi expats he hunted down in Argentina:

 

Magneto: “What brings you to Argentina?”

Nazi 1: “Climate. I’m a pig farmer.”

Nazi 2: “Tailor. Since I was a boy. My father made the finest suits in Dusseldorf.”

Magneto: “My parents were from Dusseldorf.”

Nazi 2: “What was their name?”

Magneto: “They didn’t have a name. It was taken away from them by tailors, and pig farmers.”

(cue incredibly badass double-murder-in-a-bar scene)

 

What is more, every human individual gets a name. I have written elsewhere of the basic unimportance of human individuals, their basic purposelessness and wretchedness when seen in the greater context of human events, moral principles, indeed the vastness of the universe itself. I have also written of the morally inviolable dignity of the human person and the general aspiration of human individuals to meaning and purpose. https://abiasedperspective.wordpress.com/2013/12/24/my-answer-to-the-problem-of-evil/

This dichotomy, this contradiction- meaninglessness and meaningfulness- finds its greatest expression, I think, in the fact that the human individual- a useless speck in a magnificent cosmic universe, yet capable of self-realization and great things- gets a name unto their own. More, we DESIRE names, we desire identity! Nowhere in Animalia do we find such self-identification and individual aspiration to significance. Is the drive to meaning nowhere more fully expressed?

 

Chimpanzee science- This is the concept I am least fit to discuss, but I will offer thoughts anyway. It is clear that since time immemorial, Man has sought through various means to understand the world of nature around him, and utilize it for his own purposes, and that science has been his most successful means of doing that. And it is clear that if this were a mere utilitarian imperative, seeking the greatest pleasure or happiness or what have you, then there would indeed be no difference between Man and Animal. The toolmaker ape and the cooperative ant, in their own ways superior in the art of technology to the human being, exhibit it profoundly.

 

But again- the outer exhibition of these traits, among animals, does not seem to indicate that they value such exploration for anything more than its practical means. They build no temples; they venerate no idols; they admire not the stars and create not things in those stars’ image.

 

Man, by contrast, wonders. He is irrational because he sees his existence and his lack of complete understanding of his existence as irrational in themselves, and seeks to find reason, find order, find meaning in this life. And he does not only do this within his head, but he expresses himself through his works, through the tools available to all the animals and him. But no other animal uses the tools the way he does.

 

More directly related to science, our pursuit of knowledge of nature is not strictly utilitarian. And where it is not, it is not strictly astrological, either. Is it any wonder that science as we know it developed, both in China and Greece, in correlation with philosophy? Is it any wonder that its original name “Natural Philosophy” implied that it sought to discern the greatest reality of things, and man’s place in this universe, through a systematically rational inquiry into the natural world around us, of which we are a part, yet which we clearly are somewhat apart of?

 

And as science stands today, (pardon my crude understanding, as I am no scientist as you are) if I am not mistaken, it generally views the greatest human exploit to be the pursuit of understanding of the natural world, the conquest of nature. Implicit in this understanding, though I doubt many would admit it, is that humans have a special purpose somewhat above all that which they observe. Now the humble scientist, again, would not admit it- but is not seeking to understand nature, seeking power over nature, an admission of one’s partial separateness from nature, and a will to meaning and purpose on its own? Hear me out- I do not posit that we are angels or in any way superior to the natural world we inhabit- but Man, it seems to me, is a conglomerate of the physical and the spiritual, and among the spiritual components of us are things which are understandable only as an irrational will to meaning and belief in a metaphysical place for humans a little above the animals and a little below the angels- physical bodies with a seed of heaven implanted within the spirit.

 

On the supposed discussion between the scientist, the philosopher, and the theologian:

 

You are right on target as regards the relative ability of the philosopher and theologian to answer, with certainty, questions which the scientist cannot: They can’t. It is simply the nature of questions of the impossible sort that they cannot be satisfactorily answered and written as objective fact in encyclopedias, for so far as truths go in this alley, they can only be known subjectively. The reasoning I used for the theologians in the previous message looks suspiciously like “Truth is here => God did it” and I apologize for the lack of any particularly biting reasons why anyone would want to believe, or find it rationally useful to believe.

 

I find it interesting that a lot of scientists, in particular, don’t believe in God. I mean, it makes SENSE that alternative methods of explanation of things, a general penchant for only the objectively provable, and a history of conflict between science and religion do not help the case of religion much at all; at the same time, many of the greatest scientific minds in the course of history, as you well know, were profoundly religious men! And more critically, there is nothing in reasonable religion that goes at all against the methods and conclusions of science in general! A good many of my friends who are incredibly scientific-minded also do not believe in God; thus the sciences are an area where I will have to direct more of my future studies, both for personal reasons and in hopes of understanding this phenomenon.

 

You are only one of a whole slew of good, dear friends of mine who either actively believe there is no God or see no particular reason to believe in a God, and are incredibly ethical, incredibly vivacious, incredibly dynamic, and are all-around better people than the vast majority of religious believers I know. I believe a question on one of the political ideology quizzes we all took back in high school went “Is it necessary to believe in God to have morals?” I have confirmed, empirically, through the lives of so many good friends of mine that the answer is a flat-out NO! It is not important, at all, to believe in God to have a good moral compass, because embedded within the human person and present within human society are all the factors necessary for the development and maintenance of that spark of celestial fire called conscience within the human breast. It is not easy to be a good person, but the will can do it. Certainly it seems that religion CAN serve as a motivator to good action, but it by no means is the ONLY motivator.

 

And moreover, your viewpoints on what religion claims to do that nonbelievers are able to do, too, are undeniably empirically true. As many people (even, I’d say, probably the majority of religious believers) don’t feel the need to ponder ideas of the metaphysical in order to be able to tap into the spiritual, it makes perfect sense that the belief in God is nowhere near necessary for goodness and success in life, or for practical explanations of meaning. That’s just objective, how things are on the ground. The evidence around us shows that you don’t need to believe in order to live well, and if we were simple-minded we would leave it at that.

 

But I don’t think either of us is simple-minded.

 

I will turn the spotlight onto myself. Personally, my Catholic faith and belief in God do not inform my practical moral conscience very much. My ethics are based on experience and reasoning, social conditioning, the work and art of Western Civilization, a series of larger-than-life role models, and the inescapable presence of the Boy Scouts of America. When I come to a moral dilemma, “What would Jesus do?” never crosses my mind, nor does “Is God watching?” Yet I believe fervently in God and his providence. Therefore my life serves, for me, as testimony that virtue is not reliant upon religion and faith. To a degree, we carry it with us.

 

I know that I could quite easily be a good person, and do all I do, if I did not believe in God.

 

Yet I do believe in God, for three main reasons. The first is basic, I grew up that way. My family is a devoutly Catholic family, so it became a norm for me. If it were not for certain events and conditions in my life, however, I probably would have chosen to renounce Catholicism, or at the very least, would have grown stagnant in my faith and uncaring about great metaphysical issues. But certain events did happen.

 

Second, in my zeal to attain a political understanding surpassing that of all my peers, a zeal fueled by anger at the world, I found that my previous orderly assumptions about the unity of Mankind and the ability to govern it by laws were cracked all over. Hobbes, Machiavelli, and the darkest minds of contemporary political thought enlightened me to the cruel state of affairs in which Man has forever lived and in which Man will forever live; these same thinkers taught me of the darkness and fickleness inherent to human nature, inherent within me. I was no ideologue- I did not read these and accept them as truth just because they particularly resounded with me. (It took me several months to overcome my moral repulsion with their ideas.) With time and a viewing of the world around me through the political lens I now wore, I gradually came to realize its general accuracy in foretelling and explaining why on any given day we do not live in a utopia. Naturally I sought to formulate the principles of my political understanding, and in doing so, arrived at the ‘Natural Laws’ conclusion you have seen me argue already. Here I first asked the question “Why?” when considering an objective set of laws which clearly creates so much pain alongside joy. Fresh on my mind was the realization that systems and plots to alter or change these laws- think Fascism, Communism, Neoconservatism, Modern Liberalism, Jacobinism, Theocratic Fundamentalism, etc- resulted only in greater chaos and at times bloodshed than the laws themselves engendered. An acceptance of them, a working within their world, was necessary for political prudence, and so was an understanding of them. A voice in my head cried, and still cries, that the political mindset requisite for successful political maneuver is cruel and by some accounts evil. And in that timeframe, I realized that if Man is shackled to his interests, and therefore incapable of following moral principles he sets, then Man must not be the ultimate moral authority- certainly, there must be a great moral authority not subject to the petty squabbles of men (and let’s be honest, we are ALL subject and party to the petty squabbles of men.) So I discerned what I believe not only to be the source of the general principles of reality, but the cosmic arbiter of justice, ensuring that men think with their consciences and look upon themselves (as a species) in shame, never supposing themselves to be morally superior beings when clearly, they are not. I did not accept that there can be no perfect, utopian world, until I accepted this.

 

My third reason for believing in God is far more personal than my second, but at the same time I believe more closely linked to the reason why devout believers believe. In a nutshell, I have suffered needlessly. Now I won’t go about complaining about my lot in life, as I have certainly lived a much better, more comfortable, more fulfilled life than the majority of people who have ever lived. But first-world problems are real, and I have suffered. I have mild OCD, severe General Anxiety Disorder, and a tendency towards Depression, and over the course of my adolescent life these have manifested themselves from mental self-deprecation to self-deprecatory self-mutilation to paralyzing social anxiety to needless anxiety in relationships to compulsory mantras to a suicide attempt. Dragging this chain and ball with me for so long, and struggling so hard to fight it, it should not surprise you that I have completely lost faith in myself and in everything and everyone I hold dear multiple times. Losing all hope is an odd event to describe, but I could say it’s like pornography for the hands- you know it when you feel it. Anyhow, when you’re in a certain low for long enough, enduring enough psychological trauma (and I’m sure you have felt what I describe to you before) you reach a certain point when you’re willing to believe anything, to make any bargain, to make the pain go away. It is as natural as Winston crying for his tormenters to feed Julia to the rats, so long as he might be saved; the human spirit reaches a breaking point when it craves rescue. When you’re there, the irrational can be the only thing that seems safe, that seems permanent; when you come near death, it’s quite easy to see the hand of God. If it scares you enough then you start to appreciate things more, and see blessings where you hadn’t previously. Reverence starts to matter. Now I’m not saying this happens to EVERYONE who goes through trauma. But enduring pain and being hopeless certainly is a situation where the idea of a God becomes less than crazy, and such hopelessness is not solely the property of myself and my fellow mentally ill; it is available and unstoppable to all Mankind, who, living in this broken Earth, in these bodies that will die, will someday lose the ones they love, or see the things they love destroyed, literally or figuratively. A perplexing paradox, that loss might reveal to us that which is never lost. Again- not everyone interprets this spiritually so vigorously as I do. But I believe it is an important part of human life.

 

***

 

Anyone of any faith who is truly honest with themselves about their faith and mind must concede that they are, to some degree, an agnostic- for as has been iterated by both of us time and time again, there are things one can never prove, nor disprove. The paths of reason and the experiences of life might push us either direction at any time, but in the end, as regards cosmic matters, we know NOTHING. Yet we possess, still, the drive to explore the great questions. I choose to explore them from the context of a great religious tradition, from the side of belief in God. I have told you my reasons.

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