Friday, October 17, 2014
When your mother told you, "Don't touch the stove, it will burn you and hurt like the devil", did you believe her?
Perhaps you did. And why might you have believed her? "Because she never lies to me!" could have been your response. That makes sense and shows the value in having past experience to guide you.
But what if you had been doubtful concerning your mother's veracity either because she had once told you of Santa Claus and look what happened there; or because your immense curiosity overcame your reluctance to take her at her word for it might well be a wonderful experience. Then you are faced with learning by extremely painful experience with the consequence that you no longer believe that burns would result from touching the stove because of your mother's revelation, but as a result of your direct, unmediated experience.
Another experience common to children as they grow up is the indoctrination by others concerning the existence of God. Now it is quite likely that many of us grow up believing in the existence of God on the trustworthiness of our religious teacher who says so. Oftentimes these "believers" undergo a crisis of faith, when their teachers prove themselves to be untrustworthy in other matters or with their behavior. Others enter a phase of their life, due to their education, wherein they seek proof of what they are asked to believe in. Until they attain that proof, they withhold their belief. Thus they perhaps consider themselves then to be agnostic, and would say "I don't know whether there is a God or not." Still others might opt for a rejection of any belief in God without any doubt in the matter and say, "There is no God", i.e., become "atheists'. A legitimate response to them might be "Why? What are your reasons for belief that there is no God", and say to them "prove it." It might be thus discovered that it is just as impossible to prove that there is no God as it is to prove that there is a God, from physical sensible evidence or from logical rational arguments, which after all arise from concepts which in turn are formed from physical sensible experiences.
And even if it were possible to prove the existence of God which proof might end with the statement, "therefore, God exists", this gives us no experience of God which we seek. It merely says that GOD is, and not what God is. It posits God's existence but gives us none of God's essence. Furthermore, many hope that by logic we might arrive at belief. When we seek God through personal experience, we experience nothing. Fourteen billion years ago, astrophysical "belief" holds that from a "point of no dimensions" all matter and energy which constitutes the entire cosmos, emerged. So also did Time and Space begin. There is, therefore, no before prior to this event and there is no space not part of this begun cosmos. Science would then be able to say nothing about any Creator if there be one. It could not even say that it (i.e., the Creator) does not exist. Were anyone to say anything about this Creator, it would be from what we term "FAITH" or belief alone.
So how does one get this faith? Two things can indicate an answer to this question:
1. One might ask for it (from
this hoped for Creator); i.e., in prayer;
2. One might conclude from reading all one can read about a man named Jesus, that he must have been a trustworthy source of truth, and make an act of faith in what the writers have written about what he had to say about God, and just hope that this Jesus is the trustworthy truth teller we need. There seems to be no other path to a belief in God.
In the Boston globe of 10/12/14 in the Books Section, Dan Cryer gives a synopsis of Edward O. Wilson's work, "The Meaning of Human Existence". Cryer indicates that Wilson's thought designates Science to be the "King" of total knowledge , rather than of cosmic knowledge, i.e., of spatial and temporal reality. Any doctrine of Creation he considers to be "fact aversive" and outmoded. We were created by "chance" and "necessity", humanity is
an "accident of evolution", a "product of random mutation and natural selection" Wilson writes. He claims there to be no "evidence" of any Creator, as if a Creator of space and time, matter and energy, would need a tangible body, which, had we been there, could have given us "eye-ball" proof of His existence, "ex-video", from our seeing God.
So I have before me two witnesses, one Edward O. Wilson telling me "There is no God, no life after death, just matter and energy which in time "falls apart";...
…and the other, a man whom even his followers found difficult to believe, who told us that God does exist and that His realm (or whatever you choose to call it) is WITHIN us. God is that "No-Thing" from which all things came from a "point of no dimensions" 13.7 billion years ago when time and space began. What exactly is the Cosmos, but the ex-pression of God Himself in space and time, including the entire humanity and all of creation up to and including Jesus himself, whole and entire.
Just as Jesus could give no spatial, temporal sign which would prove his "good news" to his doubting hearers, Edward O. can give no proof that God is only a mythical fiction. I stand at the stove once again asking myself, whom do I trust? I know my answer, I believe my witness.
There is a third possibility. In most of the world's ancient religions, there are teachings on prayer which stretch out beyond "signs", beyond knowledge of the human achievement to what has been termed "mystical", transcendental or contemplative prayer wherein the path is silent, solitary and interior. The difference between these "schools" would be the difference between that which which seeks the conceivable, in order to attain belief; and that which has belief at the outset. Christian contemplative prayer begins with the belief of the interior presence of what cannot be seen, heard, felt, touched, tasted nor imagined, nor thought but only "believed". To achieve this direct unmediated experience of the Indwelling Being we call "God",
is what Jesus invites us to do as he says:
"...but when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to
your 'abba', who is unseen, and your 'abba' who sees what you do in
private, will reward you."[Mt. 6:6]