Posted by: nuismera | February 10, 2009

The lost point

I cannot imagine anything more frustrating than losing a train of thought when you had something that sounded so cohesive, so illuminating, so appropriate and yet when one opens one’s mouth to give voice to this thought it vanishes into thin air and although one may stall and try to fill the empty space with meaningless words to recover some small fragment of what was supposed to make perfect sense, inevitably you must suck it up and just stop talking.  And then, of course, the second the discussion moves forward the thought pops right back to where it had been but alas it is too late.  So this is my attempt to rewind time and insert what I was trying to articulate in class and instead what ended up leading to miserable abstractness. 

The question arose in regard to Dawkin’s chapter on the moral zeitgeist of whether or not morals evolve, can one’s understanding of truth evolve and if it can then what does this say about truth?  Can there exist any objective truth if the times, as they say, are a changin’.  The point I wished to raise was that if one understands the creator God to be a god who participates in creation through the process of evolution-calling, inviting, loving the cosmos into existence-then this scientifically informed idea of God only makes the fact that morality has evolved self evident.  It is true that Yahweh in the Hebrew Scriptures is portrayed and understood as defender, judge, avenger, soldier, etc.  The scriptures themselves reflect an evolving understanding of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and it is only through God’s ever growing self revelation- which reaches it’s  climax with the sending of his only son- that God’s people come to understand their own identity and the God who calls them out of slavery.  No believer with a healthy sense of the greatness and immensity of the one true God can claim to be perfect and yet we constantly strive for this perfection in an ever evolving understanding of where God is calling us to grow and change and act.  Indeed, some have claimed that God became man in Jesus of Nazareth precisely so that we could become god.  In this sense we are ever evolving: morally, socially, personally.

The point that I lost takes me in a new direction: mainly, that the idea of faith described in Dawkin’s book and tantamount in the new atheists’ writings is in fact a blind faith.  Blind faith ensues when one is indoctrinated in a religion or tradition from a young age and simply accepts these dogmas or norms as truth, as fact without bothering to a) think for oneself nor b) delve into any of these claims to test their viability in one’s life, experience, or their compatibility with one’s world view.  This kind of blind faith is likely to lead one to make uninformed decisions for the sake of conformity-what else motivates a soldier to follow orders to commit crimes without a blind faith in authority?  The new atheists one hundred percent have a valid point is saying this type of religious faith is dangerous, after all where is the humanity in accepting surface truths without question?  As C.S. Lewis and many others have observed, it is a part of our very nature to question, to ask the big questions and never be satisfied completely by the simple answers.  He would say these questions and longings are signposts to the divine but perhaps science and religion can finally happily agree on one point: we must always seek to grow and evolve to change our minds, have the courage to ask questions and question our faith, never give up the search for God, the search for truth and the insatiable hunger to know more, be more, love more.

William O’Malley illustrates my point more poetically,

“There, I think, is the key to what we have always called ‘original sin’: the narcissism and resistance to change we inherited from our simian forebearers, beyond which our human potential invites us to evolve.  But, unlike any other nature we know of, humanity is precisely that: an invitation, not a command” (Redemptive Suffering p.22).

Real faith then involves, at its heart, a courageous willingness to make one’s faith one’s own and in doing so have the courage to let go of maxims that no longer yield life-giving fruit.  This idea also speaks to the idea of informing not only one’s faith but also one’s conscience.  The concept of natural law theory was raised in class today as well in anther response I had to the idea that morality is exclusively founded on the scriptures and that by proving the scriptures to morally unsound one can exclude God from morality.  However, deeply rooted in the Christian tradition is the idea that the human mind is imprinted form birth with an innate sense of right and wrong, a moral compass that points us in the right direction.  This is not to say that we are not informed by our social and cultural location, or by the times or by other factors, nor do I wish to imply that this concept lets one off the hook of daily working to inform one’s conscience and constantly work to interpret new data and reincorporate and reevaluate past judgements in the light of changing evidence.  This is just as equivalently a key to our call to evolve into the very best of our human nature, in fact reason itself is employed in this process and remains essential to every claim and judgment we make in regards to both morals and conscience.

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