For the context of the following comments please click on the hyperlinks above them.
(Responding to a blog post by Linda LaScola at Rational Doubt on Patheos. The post is called “Clergy Doubt #3: From Conservative to Liberal to Agnostic to Atheist”. It is the story of Andy an active United Church of Christ minister. Linda LaScola’s blog serves clergy who have lost their faith to varying degrees. Their struggle is usually complicated by the threat of losing job and community.)
“The more we can now explain, the less we need God.”
How do you explain us? (I mean really “explain” the phenomena of consciousness and Self.)
It helps to have not had very earnest theological programming. This, due to my mother’s atheist leanings.
So my own contemplation of God started as much from scratch as can be expected while swimming in a stew of heavily Christian seasoning.
First question was “What is God?”
Next question, “Why is it interesting or important?”
“What is the relationship?”
“What are the limits?”
“What is possible?”
“Why isn’t the nature of God obvious?”
“How to get a clearer understanding?”
“Does it matter, and in what ways?”
(Next: mull it over; Earnestly and with an open heart for 40 years.)
About the “non-theist” phase that you went through; It’s too bad that you were only hedging; just putting off thinking of yourself as an atheist.
“Non-Theism” is a perfectly good vantage point, but only if it is first earned. Arrived at by actual ego transcendence.
In the meantime:
As long as there is any sense, of “other” and “me” that remains, then it is perfectly reasonable to relate to the Eternal and Entire, Here and Now, as God.
Of course none of this would “seem very Biblical” to your employers. Can’t help you there.
Kent Truesdale responding to the same article – “Andy, excellent post and great food for thought. As an agnostic liberal minister myself, I struggle daily with the fraudulence of fulfilling “professional expectations” (as you put it) by preaching a God I don’t believe in. I also feel ethically compromised by making money doing it from people who DO believe. How do you handle these violations of our integrity? And after all, isn’t that integrity a professional expectation too?”
Wow! But really, wouldn’t everybody benefit if you kept preaching and teaching? All it would take is letting God do it. Getting yourself out of the way. (takes intentional practice, sacrifice and risk of course.)
The problem I always had with Christianity is the locked in “dualism”. Dogmatic denial of the Oneness of God. Preservation of the individual identity no matter how irrational and contradictory to a reasonable understanding of the absolute.
Also, and even more importantly. The deification of Jesus.
When Jesus said “I and the Father are one.” He did not say “I am God”. He was telling us that there is no separation between creator and creation. No matter what our mortal minds and bodies decide and perceive to be the case.
There is a very simple adjustment that settles the matter. It can happen in the blink of an eye or take a lifetime. The result of a vow to resolve the confusion of identity that is perversely being called “original sin”.
Andy – “I account for human self-consciousness biochemically, and the serendipitous confluence of evolutionary factors by which it came to be.
If I understand you correctly, your position seems to be pantheism, wherein God is everything and everything is God, or panentheism, wherein God is in everything and everything is in God. I have no problem with that, and applaud your own conclusions, if they work for you. It just seems to me that it is more efficient to espouse atheism. If there is no difference between me and another (God, the Eternal), then what’s the point of even talking about God, unless it is to satisfy the expectations of others. Otherwise it seems to be an unnecessary, complicating factor (Ockham’s Razor).
Thanks for your comments to me and to Kent. Much appreciated.”
“If there is no difference between me and another (God, the Eternal), then what’s the point of even talking about God, unless it is to satisfy the expectations of others.”
I suppose this can be written off as “little-endian” to my “big-endian”. But alas! Will the children be even less inspired? And their children’s children?
“I account for human self-consciousness biochemically, and the serendipitous confluence of evolutionary factors by which it came to be.”
So, would artificial inteligence (To whatever degree we manage to manifest it.) be just as serendipitous for the robots?
“Thanks for your comments to me and to Kent. Much appreciated.”
I know, I know. Just let it be. You can consider the above a rhetorical follow-up if you wish.
Andy – “AI, Artificial Intelligence, yes that’s very interesting, and I’ve been pondering. I should think that homo sapiens are not the end of the evolutionary process, so I guess their development (AI) would be as serendipitous as ours. BTW, I’ve always enjoyed the first ‘Matrix’ movie, in which we are called to wonder how we might fit into this world once we are surpassed. Batteries!! If you have seen the movie, you understand!”
My “big-endian” sympathies of course, were rooting for Neo.
Kent Truesdale – “Have you ever considered a new career as a liberal minister? because you’re using all the right language! ;D”
Thanks for the thought. A career would be nice for a change.
Basically my chameleon tendencies are kicking in. I tend to soak up the language of whatever venue I frequent.
The challenge though, is to leave words behind when the moment is ripe for epiphany.
You have equated something like this in the above response to Andy. Action (i.e. change) beyond mere statement of belief. I resonate with the Taoist (or is it Zen) arriving at actionless action. The unknowing that precipitates as enlightenment.
(“Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”)
Our sense of ownership, either of virtues or failings, intelligence or it’s lack, faith or doubt; This is the orbit of the personal and binds us unnecessarily to itself.