Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Truth Decay and Mental Highgiene

Is it possible for religion to pose anything more than a rearguard action against the inevitable transformation of man from homo religiosus to homo scientificus? In the West, science so dominates our way of looking at the world that perhaps we do not realize the magnitude of spiritual revolution (or devolution) this has entailed. While I endorse science (almost) without reservation, I do worry about its deleterious effect on the human soul when it is elevated to a metaphysic. There are, of course, people who wish to keep science and religion entirely separate, which has the practical effect of elevating the scientific worldview to a state religion. On the other side are people who wish to conflate science and religion, which ends up debasing both.
As I have said before, I am a believer in “intelligent design” for the same reason I am a believer in intelligence period. But this is metaphysics, not science, and should not be taught as such. It is true that there would be no atheists if all men were capable of understanding metaphysics. But they are not, and it doesn’t help matters to reframe metaphysical truth in a debased and watered-down form that appeals to the sensual or vital mind only. As pure truth, metaphysics is aimed at the nous, not the distorted and hypertrophied reasoning mind of the contemporary intellectual. The truth is true despite what may be proved or disproved with mere reason, which is a mechanical form of thought limited to drawing conclusions from premises. It has its place, but one of them is not the realm of primordial Truth per se. It is a banality to point out that the most important truths cannot be proved with reason. That doesn't make them any less true.
Tradition willfully attempts to maintain a purified faith in the teeth of the predations of science. There are certain particularly elevated and/or simple souls for which this will suffice. But that probably represents less than five percent of the population on the high end, and perhaps a quarter of the population on the low end. That leaves at least seventy percent of the population generally spiritually adrift and untouched by religious truth. How to reach them? For whatever reason, they have lost contact with the natural simplicity and nobility of their souls, so religion properly so-called no longer speaks to them. Thus they drift into hedonism or its twin sister, new-age spiritualism, with no grounding in the intrinsic meaning provided by authentic revelation and grace. There is absolutely no contradiction between science and this latter form of religion, for they simply address different levels of reality. Religion easily accommodates science, while the reverse can never be true. Religion accommodates science for the same reason that our minds do. For our minds are designed to know truth, pure and simple, whether it is empirical truth, rational truth, artistic truth, moral truth, or metaphysical truth. Intelligence itself is prior to what it knows, and what it knows is truth (otherwise “knowledge” is a meaningless, even absurd term).
Therefore, intelligence is truth itself implanted within our soul. As much as I respect tradition, I am very concerned about it reducing itself to a simple fideism, or faith, rather than appealing directly to the intellect. Again, there are gifted and simple people for whom this will suffice, but the great middling masses--leftist dominated academia, the creators and purveyors of popular culture, media elites in the MSMistry of Truth--entirely miss the boat in this regard. They are just intelligent enough to reject religion but not intelligent enough to understand it, and they obviously exercise a huge, dominant influence over the culture at large. How to win that battle?The fact of the matter is that modernity has brought with it certain positive and undeniably precious developments, such as the sanctity of the individual and all this implies--liberty, democracy, free markets, etc. But at the same time, a new kind of religion is required for this new kind of person. This religion must be more inward because we are more inward. In other words, cosmic evolution doesn’t just take place outwardly but inwardly.
As a matter of fact, it is this evolution of the interior horizon that has always been the concern of religion, even if and when religion did not realize it.I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit it now, but when I began the task of writing my book, I thought that I was going to have to invent a new religion. In my hubris, I thought, well, times have changed, and we know so much more now than we did when the original revelations were handed down. What if we could design a new religion now, based upon everything we know about the universe?It is actually a measure of God’s grace that my attempt to do this ultimately led me in exactly the opposite direction and saved me from trying to be L. Bob Gagdad. In all humility, I do believe this is because I approached the endeavor in all humility. In other words, I was motivated solely by the humble pursuit of truth, wherever it led me. There were no commercial motivations whatsoever (although it is probably another measure of God's grace that my publisher only later discovered this bitter economic reality).
As a matter of fact--I shouldn’t say this, but here goes--I practiced meditation every day during the course of writing the book, and in so doing prayed for two things only: light, or understanding, and the ability to express it.Now, I’m not nearly grandiose enough to say I succeeded (I won't presume to speak for Petey). Since the process is ongoing, there are a lot of little things I would now change about the book. But that’s not the point I’m trying to make. What I am saying is that if you really want to understand religion deeply, you can. That’s what it’s here for. It’s not meant to be opaque, or absurd, or primitive, or outdated. Rather, no matter how smart or sophisticated you think you are, it really does address itself to the deepest part of your being. It expresses truths that cannot be proved, for the simple reason that Truth is its own proof. Ultimately you do not comprehend it. It comprehends you. posted by Gagdad Bob at 7:08 AM 9 comments Saturday, June 10, 2006

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