Friday, August 8, 2008

The Lyricism of Belief: An Observation on the Grounds of Belief and Faith

It is a bit of a truism among Christians that the existence of God cannot be conclusively proven with absolute certainty.

Since God cannot be proved or disproved, so the thinking goes, it is possible to be an "honest Christian"(!). Probably the best known variation is Pascal's wager. Rather than argue that there is evidence to believe or not believe, I propose another approach to the uncertainties intrinsic to belief in the supernatural.

If faith in God, Jesus, and all the mechanics of redemption cannot be grounded in reason, then assent to belief or disbelief is not a consequence of the truth or falsity of those beliefs. Less confusingly phrased, assent is not given because of the truth or falsity of the beliefs in question, but for human, all too human motivations.

This means that the accounts given for belief, and equivalently for disbelief, are amenable to a meaningful analysis similar to what one might expect in literary analysis. The phrase, lyricism of belief, comes to mind.

Even though keen insight is not a prerequisite to grasp that quite often it is not love, either of truth or human beings, that motivate faith in God. One name suffices to illustrate the point: Fred Phelps. Or if that is not enough, consider the homophobic teachings of Evangelical Christianity.

Psychologically considered, justification of one's assent to doctrines and teachings by appeals to "truth" are an impediment to truth. "Truth" especially when mouthed by Christians and other ideologues is a license to avoid unpleasant and unsavory truths about oneself and about life, the universe, and everything. Truth that can not be examined, questioned, and even abandoned means in practice, "There be dragons."

Truth is a curtain behind which passions run free and wild accountable neither to God nor man. This means that character and ethics are prior to belief and truth.

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