Last week I released a post entitled “I Don’t Believe in God but, I Take Jesus Seriously.” This entry managed to stir quite a bit of dialogue, discussion, and debate between myself and a few close friends. It was nice to know that something I wrote helped to solicit and foster such an engaging discourse. As a result I thought it might be beneficial to share several portions of this conversation. Feel free to interject.
I should also preface what follows by saying that I am in no way philosophically or theologically learned enough to significantly, meaningfully, or effectively participate in the argumentation of such a rich and complex subject, so feel free to disagree and throw away anything I have to say. Nearly 80% of what I say is 95% bullshit 50% of the time. (Did I mention math really isn’t my strong suit either?)
Directly below you’ll find the comments of one of my friends to the aforementioned post, after which will be my response. Enjoy!
“ Isn’t the fact of accepting the concept of a incomprehensible God still a construct of your imagination and hence putting you into the same dilemma? Seems like a paradox to me. Could it be more that we were created to look upon him with our own imaginations so that we might learn how much bigger he is than we can conceive and hence realize the magnitude and vastness of the eternal form? (God) my 2 cents…”
Yes and no.To start, the idea that you present in your concluding remarks does not evade the paradoxical either, but falls neatly inside as a further example. Steeped within the very rhetoric of your expression is found the very traditional image of a creative Male/Patriarchal, omnipotent, supernatural being that has imbued humanity with wonder and imagination. This is just as much a cognitive construction as any other.
Thus, to be free of paradox is an unattainable objective. One could say that existence itself is an entangled mesh of contradiction, paradox, and that which is often found to be counter-intuitive. Paradox is inescapable. Also, in many ways the reconciliation or resolution of paradox is phenomenologically and existentially irrelevant, i.e. often it has little to no bearing in one’s lived experience of the world.
Too, I’m not sure that I’m “accepting” the concept of an incomprehensible God.What I am suggesting is not a critique of “a” conception but, a critical objection to “all” conceptions, as such that no conception is free of subjective construction. To quote Paul Van Buren once again, the word God itself is either “meaningless or misleading.” I’m not rejecting a particular idea of God but the idea of God itself. Nor am I proposing that God is utterly inconceivable of infinitely beyond conception. I’m suggesting that perhaps “God” simply isn’t there.
This is not to caste conceptions of God in a harsh light. I am not saying that one should be required to abandon their ideas of God (as would a Dawkins or a Hitchens). What I am asking for is the acknowledgement that there is no conception of the divine that is not personally posited. There is no God that “exists” (for lack of better word) that was not brought into existence by those who believe that God exists. Perhaps, then, a more accurate rendering of the opening lines of Genesis should read, “In the beginning, when man created God…”
To be clear, however, this should not be read as an attack. I’m not opposing theism. I’m not opposing religion. I don’t believe in God and here I am very intentional in my use of the word “believe.” It is just that, a belief, and one that I choose to lend ascent to in the way that a theist would “choose” to believe in God. It is a decisive move. I choose this path of “rejection” for much the same reasons that “believer” would choose affirmation. It is existentially provisional. It instills something ( I use this word loosely) within my being that is transformative to both my material reality and my engagement with the world. I am compelled to love more deeply, called to a more critical concern, if my hands are the only means by which love enters the world.
My stance is ultimately one of utility and pragmatism, as all such beliefs are. I am concerned with functionality. If holding a conception God lures one to love, then I will stand in affirmation of that system of belief. If it takes there being a “God” for one to love their neighbor as themselves then I will abide in solidarity that person’s belief. If a six day creation and a literal, infallible, and inspired “Word of God” causes one to love their enemy, to feed the hungry, to cloth the naked, and to stand with the orphan, the widow and the stranger, then by all means cling to that but, do so with an open hand and a humble heart. For me, however, the absence of the Big Other is more alluring action. To fill the void left by the absence of the divine compels me to a deeper place of calling more so than the “presence” of any idea of deity ever could.
Perhaps tomorrow I will awaken to a renewed sense of imbibed theism. Perhaps years from now I will look upon these writings as the confused ramblings of a mixed up kid and as the confessions of a damaged mind but, for now, if I am honest with myself, with those whom I love and care for, and with those who love and care for me, this is a space in which I feel I MUST dwell, if for nothing else than for a season.