Everyone has an idea of what is true and real. In fact, most do not see any difference between these ideas. Against this we have the notion of superstition, in the historical mythological sense. Superstition is the justification of faith, and together they form a basis by which the activities to solve the problems of reality are justified.
When superstition is excluded in the consideration of what is true, that is, when it is taken as a ‘false’ by which ‘truth’ is situated, meaning if it is included then it is so by a negation, here we have not only reality, but the evidence of faith.
There is a different route before us. Let us take the example from what we can call Biblical mythology.
It would seem we have at least two possibilities; the universe of Adam and Eve that does not adhere to our modern scientific version of laws that have governed the workings of the universe since its beginning, and the the universe (of them) that has operated the same since their time to our time.
It seems it has to be one or the other. A beginning of the universe that actually began with two God created people must have existed, as humans like us, in a universe that was completely foreign to our understanding, that is, by contrast, if we live in our present world of scientific type methodology of real things, where evolutionary theory describes the actual universe for all times.
The former universe, one could say, had ‘miracles’, a universe where a serpent at times could talk and be motivated by ‘more than instinctual’ animal processes. This universe also has staves that could turn into snakes (Moses), a certain finite number of creatures that Noah could gather, and ‘works’ of Jesus, where a person that was dead could actually come back to life physically, and probably a myrad of other miraculous possibilities spoken about by other cultures. A universe where extra-universal energies (God?) still were involved directly with the universe.
Now, see though, I am not being facetious. I am not even thinking about ‘what if’.
The other universe is one where the humanity we know now, the capacity and ability we count as human today, including that part which extends into science, is The universe that has always been, running by the same Laws, the same limitations, one of which says that serpents could never speak to humans let alone convey a complex thought in speaking, or staves that could become snakes, or if such things could happen, then it was a mistaken apprehension of the events.
Also see that I feel that in being human, I should explore the world with all my capacities, barring no thought, considering all that might be able to come under my view. Granted, this view involves a certain morality so far as to what I may enact, but so far as the possibility of truth in the world, I must be at least willing to consider it in its possibility, including the possibility that may offend my idea of what is real and true. To me, this is a God given capacity and ability, that It gave me (us) to use to its fullest. In other words, I should, within this capacity and ability, be at least willing to try to set aside what I know is correct; the truth lay then with all that is known. The transition from real discourse to true communication occurs as we move to the experience itself.
Under this maxim for being in the world, this is why I can say or have said I do not have faith, but my faith is in doubt. For, if I do not have faith, then the faith that I do have is defacto, by definition, doubt. But inso much as somehow I have a commitment or an imperative of my being that does not allow me to have faith, by virtue of this situation, I am having faith in a meaning from which I derive that statement ‘I do not have faith’ in order to be able to say it and mean it, and thereby this condition admits, my condition, my faith is in doubt. I become subject to a peculiar situation whereby the position I advocate betrays itself, and I am left nowhere by what I may say, except that somehow I have said it, because the faith that I do have, the faith that allows me to speak and mean with conviction, is in question by the very fact that I may say and mean ‘my faith is in doubt’.
So it is that the possibility that there was a singular and momentous human being who was the Son of God, sent into this world for the forgiveness of sins, that those who believe in him may not die, but have everlasting life, this actual person-God 2000 years ago as the Bible tells – I do not have faith in this, which I to say I do not believe it, but yet I do believe, have faith in the idea, that it is just as possible as the truth I know, by which I have faith in doubt. This is ironic, the situation of irony: to have faith in doubt.
The possible situations of the universe as I presented above, both rely upon an implicit idea of progress. The former, where a serpent actually talks to Eve, suggests a universe that has been moving away from God, a universe that began with a God and where God used to interact, where miraculous things could and indeed did happen as they are told about, but that the universe is or has been moving in a manner where such strange occurrence, one could say at least, become less and less, leading ultimately to our time, wherein any and all miraculous events are immediately usurped and explained by our modern understanding, thus stripping them from the truly miraculous and leaving them, at most, merely strange or mysterious.
The latter universe extends its reaches to the ‘beginning’ and proclaims that humans a long time ago were not as intelligent as we are now. Even though they had the capacity innate in the (our) developed brain, its processes, as an adapted mechanism of natural selection of acquired traits, needed time in trial and error in dealing with the true universe to find out what is actually real and true. Early man was superstitious, and believed in all sorts of spirits and demons, gods and deities, supermen and fantastic creatures, and was prone to believing false ideas such as a geocentric universe, four basic elements, and the body’s functioning through chakras and humors. Eve talking to a serpent is explained as analogy or as ignorance, as a real human event hidden in symbolism or clouded by superstition. This universe is of a progress toward true knowledge, of humans learning and understanding their true place and the true structure of the universe.
I am unable to have faith in either one of these universes, to believe , which is to say, will myself, choose, to have one or the other be true; ‘evidence’ merely begs the question of and announces simultaneously to what ‘faith’ is being attested. I can only consider their possibility in regards to possibility. In fact, so much as what is true, is that they are both possible given the condition of knowledge that I inhabit; and this is to say, they are both true, and this truth requires, as an act of will, no faith. But my faith is in doubt. That which I come upon as true has given these sensible conclusions. What is real as to the world in which I live, while tending toward the latter, ‘scientific’ universe, comes to be in question because of what is true. This question then brings what can be called ‘commitment’ (see my posts “Tangent 3.9: Love”, and “Concerning Commitment…”) and develops along lines that can be called faith. Which universe do I choose?
As I invite the reader to truth, I can confront your faith.
The point, I suppose, that I am getting at so far as Eve and the serpent is that I am incapable of coming to a Big Story of the history of humanity. Or, I would have to say that it is ‘in between’.
It is this in between-ness that is the problem between us, between individuals, maybe. Because, in a way, what the story the Bible presents I can say to be true, but the meaning I have of this truth seems not the same as what you mean when you say it is true or false. In part, I would say my Story is both stories, the former and the latter. What this would mean is that taken separately their veracity must be taken in faith, an ‘either/or’. Taken together would show something to the effect that the historical move away from God is the move toward God, that in one way, God is knowledge of truth, and in another way God is false knowledge; this totality then would deny that there was ever a ‘true’ history designated by either the Bible’s Big Story or the Science/evolution Big Story, but that the apparent contrary movements reveal no movement, or a movement that exists only in the ever-present moment, and that on one hand, the promise of Jesus can come ‘in the blink of an eye’, at the end of time, or on the other hand, in the ‘thoughtful’ realization of the oppressively limiting power that ‘scientific’ knowledge has over the individual in reality right now. Since the Subject of both stories is the single human being’s relationship with the world, and how that Subject really has nothing to do with the world, but has everything to do with him or herself as a Subject of worldly things, the true issue cannot be so much what one believes is true, not so much what their faith ‘witnesses’; rather, the issue has more to do with what it is to be the Subject of God.
Now, the notion presented in the foregoing essay might seem to many quite…ridiculous. We are quite comfortable with what our scientific reasonings say; basically, we got it down. Our explanation of reality is true; evolution is the right fit, even though we still are working on the details. Fundamentalist Christians have their Biblical creation truth. Then there is the debate that crosses these two truths that attempts to pull ideas from either side and argue which one is more true, and this occurs at all levels, between all sorts of ‘fundamental’ ideas, their arenas of discourse.
This essay poses the issue upon the more religious horizon. But this is not merely an isolated ‘what if’; it is a sound reasoning based in the same ability that I would say is stuck in its own faith.
Science is also offering it own reconciliation of the problem of such faith; here is a link to an essay that describes this same motion put into the rhetoric of science:
Likewise Quentin Meillassoux, for one, offers his more scholarly reduction in his discussions referring to analytical appropriations of historical philosophical authors and their ideas.
The issue I address through this ‘coincidence’ of reality, has to do with how it is possible that such a reduction is being made. Reality has it that there is an historical context that is informing our ability to know of things, and the conclusions and assertions of truth, put forth usually as theory and or hypothesis, are likewise informed due to these previous delineations of ideas. Such it is that we have the individual who exists because and due to the information that was before him or her, mediated by a sort of transcendent consciousness of free will, determining by this contingency of essential forces what the present is as well as what the future has to deal with in ideas of the world.
When we move from superstition, which is of faith, which includes what is otherwise metaphysical, conventional science, to what could be called true science, we find our place in the statement, “I doubt this causal formulation”.
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