Where the case of our Holy Faith is strongest

“[N]othing is more beautiful, profound, sympathetic, reasonable, manly, and perfect than Christ [and] not only is there nothing more but there can be nothing more.” – Dostoevsky

It seems to me that empirical science itself, in order to be consistent with its method based on empirical experience, has to work with the physical universe as if it is a closed system where nothing else intervenes. This is its advantage (no arbitrary ex-nihilo appearances accepted) and its limit (science can’t tell anything about what is not contained in the Cosmos). Naturalists say that all knowledge other than that is either illusory or else useless speculation that makes things more complicated than they would be in the naturalist explanation.

Ultimately, practical reason and human psychology seem to be much more on our side than science. Science is limiting, because if naturalism (or, in other words, the “sexed-up atheism” called pantheism) are true, then God (or Being-itself), and we as part of him, are a meaningless thing that *just is* for eternity – which as a mode of being is still completely possible to be studied by science.

This meaninglessness, however, renders inherently purposeless (a) the search and knowledge of truth and (b) our decision to believe in free will or in determinism.
Knowledge of truth needs to be inherently significant, and thus we human persons need to be inherently significant beings – otherwise it doesn’t make any objective difference whether we know the truth (naturalism or supernaturalism) or we don’t. And for this, God (Being-itself) needs to be *both* transcendent and immanent, not just the latter. This should be an axiom of sorts, a first principle of practical reason.
In the same way, free will alone is the only explanation of the validity of our choice to believe or not in free will. What I mean by this is: if I was determined since forever to believe or to disbelieve in free will, then the absence of any real decision makes my belief about free will inherently irrelevant – and thus, from a practical point of view, it makes no difference.

The necessity of bona fide on both sides is absolute, that said. Both naturalists and theists should know that all the rational debates are done under premises, and that no set of irreligious premises is more neutral, self-evident or natural than any set of religious premises – and vice-versa. It is utterly unconvincing to argue that your beliefs are self-evident – and thus it is, in practice, purposeless.
Something similar goes about arguments about revelation – it is impossible to pass down the experience of the Triune God that prophets have from that one person to another – just as my personal experience of both the created and the uncreated is unique, different from your personal experience of the created and the uncreated. Thus, a leap of faith, a will to positively believe in either naturalism or theism is required.

Here, the Nietzschean can come and say that it is our duty to let ourselves be shaped by the unbearable and meaningless truth of our worthlessness and meaninglessness – and that if this doesn’t kill us, then one day the Ubermensch will emerge. Only the psychology of the human person can tell the him “No, rather than to will to believe that I am just an element, part of an eternally-evolving meaningless Cosmos, I will choose to believe that I was created by an all-loving God.” Only few are capable of living in the way that Nietzsche argued we should – both Frederich Nietzsche and Anton LaVey knew that one is by birth to be this self-made divinity or isn’t at all.
But just as anyone is free to try to become a self-made god, so even these strong men are actually capable of desiring God. Christians are neither monists nor dualists – and thus they can agree with the necessity of asceticism believed by Eastern religions, but also with the preference to desire and love the good rather than to reject and hate evil – the Nihilists’ idea that one ought, above all else, be a yes-sayer. We have much to offer both of these groups – as long as we actually show that there are saints who live by God’s law and love – that only in Christ is there a solution that denies no single experience of the human being.

It is, above all, by His presence in the lives of the Saints that God is capable of triggering a person’s will to believe in the Him. Also, even if we may perceive this as the logical fallacy of “ad hominem” (for example Christian hypocrisy doesn’t prove our Faith wrong), actually our incapacity to show non-Christians living examples of people living our Faith is the most compelling argument against our case – it makes Nihilists call us hypocrites who deny man all that is human to him, and makes them want to be unlike us.
As the Russian Saint Seraphim of Sarov has said – “Acquire a peaceful spirit, and around you thousands will be saved.”

One thought on “Where the case of our Holy Faith is strongest

  1. Pingback: The genius of foundationalism – A response to “The Impotence of Atheism” | semel traditae sanctis

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