For some reason I keep getting sucked back into this whole theism/atheism discussion. I tried to keep it short. That didn’t work but it is all relevant so please humor me and try to follow my train of thought.
One of the things about atheists (or Atheists if you prefer) that is admirable is that they want to live in reality. Even if at the center is the cold dark fundamental belief that after this time on Earth you have nothing to look forward to except a dinner date with the worms. I think this is a respectable position and probably the main drawing card of atheism.
The counter to that from a Christian perspective would be the nature of the wager. If I’m wrong, I become worm bait anyway. If I’m right I get to go to heaven to be with God forever and not go to hell. In the meantime I can participate in my “delusion” and live a blissful existence abiding by centuries old teachings and have a genuinely happy and fulfilling life. At the end I’ll die and all my loved ones will believe I’m better off dead than alive. Doesn’t sound too terrible to me. For those types of Christians they don’t want to hear the alternative because it is not a wager they are willing to take given the above terms.
At the other extreme of the spectrum are people that would say, “That’s great if it works for you but I believe that…. “. Well, actually that’s not great if it “works” for you as it needs to be based in reality otherwise you are just participating in self delusion like our poor chap above. Despite our desire for our beliefs to represent reality, reality does not follow our beliefs; our beliefs should follow reality.
If belief should follow reality, what is Reality? That is the question that people have been trying to answer for millenia. Well, for one thing, it isn’t what we see. Science tells us that our eyes are just light detectors that give us a 3d view of the world. For some reason we are locked in this physical dimension that doesn’t totally make sense yet. Our atoms are essentially nothing with a few tiny particles whizzing around each other. Inside those tiny particles are even tinier particles once again surrounded by lots of space. What is the most primary reality? Is is strings or a brane? The Bible agrees with this aspect of science in that we believe in what we do not see:
We have gotten to the point in science where we realize we may not ever be able to look into the next layer of abstraction. No one has successfully devised an experiment to prove or disprove strings or branes, they are just mathematical constructs. Even with the universe, we can’t prove or disprove whether the universe is infinite or not through measurement as we can’t see beyond a certain distance because of background radiation, it’s kind of like looking through a light fog where at some stage, you just can’t see past it. Of course, if we could see forever, we may only be able to prove that the universe is finite, infinite is probably a different thing altogether.
A problem with modern “rational” thought is that it has become heavily reliant on science to the point that if science doesn’t explain it, it isn’t worth knowing. It’s like we have said that the ancients couldn’t have known anything worth knowing because they didn’t have science. I think there are many examples of ancient knowledge that equals or betters modern knowledge such as herbal medicine, acupuncture, Tai Chi, etc. If you read through the book of Proverbs in the Bible you will likely realize that it is full of good advice, much of it strictly practical.
So what if Real Reality is actually spiritual and the physical world is just a thin veneer on top that we are stuck on? The spiritual world has proved to be almost impenetrable by science, thus many people’s insistence on excluding spirituality from the conversation altogether. If you consider ancient wisdom on this you would be hard pressed to find a single ancient spiritual thinker talking about atheism, although I suppose Buddhism comes close by my understanding of it. When the ancients had the realization of our inherently spiritual nature, why are we so quick to discard that? I suppose we would like to shed the “ignorance” of our past.
If the nature of Reality is actually spiritual, we should be looking for people that have mastered the spiritual while living in the physical world. Most world religions would have someone that they would say has done this whether it be the Buddha, Mohammed, the Dalai Lama, etc. The one that I look to in this category is Jesus. Perhaps this is the reason why he was able to perform miracles, etc. is that he had an inherent understanding of reality. Some people say the reason he was able to perform miracles was because he was God incarnate but he said that his followers would be able to perform greater signs than he did, so he clearly thought that whatever he was doing any other human could do with God’s assistance. The opportunity to interact on the spiritual plane is just as much a reality now as it was then, you just have to accept the offer.
In all my traversals of philosophy and thought experiments, I keep coming back to the person of Jesus.
Are you engaged in the real reality?