Spritzophrenia

humour, music, life, sociology. friendly agnostic.

Welcome to the Fall

Posted by spritzophrenia on October 7, 2010

Part 5 of a series starting here

I find it highly ironic that I choose to explore pain and suffering, and then come down with a severe cold, the crippling return of an old back injury, and a descent into depression. When I cough, I have to grip the wall, or fall over with muscle spasms. If there is a Being who Knows out there, perhaps she is laughing. How has this affected my own spirituality? I guess I’ll first say, “What spirituality?” I’m an agnostic, and always will be.

Does agnostic spirituality require a constant to-and-fro along the path of unbelief? Climbing up and down the ladder to heaven, closer and then further away? I haven’t updated you on my own journey for a while; my life, study and praxis moves much faster than I can write about it here.

Briefly, I think— for now— that some kind of g0d might exist, following my reading of various theist philosophers. I can “feel something there” when I pray or read mystical literature. Weird, I could never do that before. Is that just the “religion” part of the brain, starved for company?

Strangely, the constant pain in my lower back doesn’t convince me that g0d cannot be there. Perhaps if it continues for many more weeks it may grind down the teeth of my belief. I came to the intellectual position some years ago that the problem of evil is not a “proof” against God. It only means we cannot know g0d’s purposes.

I’m quite cheerful, the sun is shining, and my mind’s distortions of reality are receding. The cold is gone, but the back-ache remains, making it difficult to sit or lie for long. I’m typing this standing up.

Laughing Jesus

As a head-person who has an ambivalent relationship with body and emotions, can I find some meaning or meditative quality in my pain? Mostly it just takes away my focus, removes my ability to think clearly, makes me tired and removes me from the higher life. I’ve read some pretty inspiring stuff by those who live with crippling circumstance. But for me? Nope. It’s just pain. Guess I’m not a guru, huh?

Pain is everyday for some people. There is a challenge in day-to-day spirituality: The life of work, paying bills, struggling to manage kids, exhaustion, arriving too late for the start of the movie. The idol of the mundane says, “This is nothing, this is ordinary. Don’t read anything special into this.”

Do you read anything special into the mundane parts of your life?

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Ministry | Welcome to the Fall

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8 Responses to “Welcome to the Fall”

  1. I don’t think it’s coincidental that you came down with illnesses at that time. I also don’t think it’s Spiritual or Religious. I think you’re telling yourself something sub-consciously.

  2. Iain said

    (I know this is off-topic from your last question there, but…)

    “Does agnostic spirituality require a constant to-and-fro along the path of unbelief? Climbing up and down the ladder to heaven, closer and then further away?”

    I keep thinking about this question. The thought comes to me, “why would it be hard to know the truth about reality?” What I mean by that is, if spiritual claims are true… then why doesn’t everybody know it? I don’t find it hard to know that a tree sits in my back yard (no more difficult than general epistemic difficulties that apply to ALL beliefs). I don’t find it hard to know that I have two hands. So why should it be hard to know that god exists or not?

    I’m not sure it should…

    • There is no such thing as “off topic” as far as I’m concerned. Thanks Iain. (Which is not an answer to your question, of course 🙂 )

    • Why is it hard to know god (if he exists) is a very interesting question, and one that’s been raised before- as I’m sure you know.

      Some people say “It isn’t hard to know God exists, we know it from looking at creation”. Others of us say, “But we DON’T know that, I don’t see it the way you do.”

      Some people (I’m thinking Pascal) and many others write about the necessity of God hiding himself from us, so that we aren’t “forced” to believe in him.

  3. Iain said

    In response to Jonathan:

    Some people say “It isn’t hard to know God exists, we know it from looking at creation”. Others of us say, “But we DON’T know that, I don’t see it the way you do.”

    Yes, does the sky truly declare g0d’s glory and the heavens declare her name? Is it true that “since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse”?

    As you say, there isn’t much clear about it from my perspective. If g0d is a matter of one’s interpretation then presumably that means no-god is equally as apparent. That causes trouble for the scientific mindset or hard-line skeptic enquirer (however genuine), since the null hypothesis does the same job as the real thing. 🙂

    Some people (I’m thinking Pascal) and many others write about the necessity of God hiding himself from us, so that we aren’t “forced” to believe in him.

    I’m not sure what I think of this argument but I am certainly familiar with it. At this stage I don’t like it, given that if we used the same behaviour in another circumstance by analogy it would seem highly unreasonable.

    e.g. “I continually hide from my wife so that she knows I love her unconditionally. She hasn’t seen me for 10 years, but I sometimes hide in the attic and listen to when she speaks to me (answering prayers?). True love is made stronger through separation, you know.”

    or

    “I let my child burn himself on the hot stove-top the other day because if I had interfered I would have been forcing myself on his free-will and we can’t have that.”

    Perhaps there is a more generous way of approaching the problem. I’d be keen to hear any more thoughts.

    • Heh. I restrained myself from those Biblical quotes, suspecting you’d probably know them 🙂

      I like that you say “I don’t like it”. Philosophy isn’t just about having perfect point-by-point arguments, as I’m discovering. It’s also about developing a worldview, which *might* come up with such arguments, but can still hold to a position even if not fully formulated or defended.

      Oh well, makes sense to me, anyway.

      Yeah, those latter two examples are pretty harsh, and I have nothing to reply to them at this point.

      • Iain said

        I’ve just come across two terms about the basis for belief in my epistemology readings recently: basis-relative safety and basis-relative sensitivity.

        I may actually blog about them and the implications, but I think they also apply well to discussions of religion. I’ll try to show why.

        The basis-relative safety of your belief means that you have some basis for belief that is likely only to be true if your belief is true. For example, if Jesus was raised from the dead (basis) in a way not explainable by science then it is likely that such a resurrection was caused by a god, thus belief in God would be relatively “safe” bet.

        The basis-relative sensitivity of your belief means that if something ISN’T true then you are less likely to believe (wrongly) that it is true on a certain basis. So, for example, if evolution is true and 6-day Y.E. Creationism is wrong, then a highly sensitive individual is not likely to continue believing the Creationism mythos despite having a possible basis for belief in Genesis Chapter 1.

        What my core idea is, and what I plan to blog about in more detail, is that many religious believers (and non-believers?) allow themselves to be satisfied with high safety beliefs and pay little regard to belief sensitivity. That means an individual can be quite “rational” in certain secure beliefs, despite also potentially being quite wrong about reality. This probably applies to many people and many beliefs but this is just my one idea in the area of religion.

        p.s. This is still all very confusing to me, so I hope I explained myself well enough.

        • Well, i *think* I get it. You might want to split it into two posts, one explaining the ideas, and another explaining your take on them re: religion.

          I don’t think I completely get it yet. thanks!

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