What’s Left

I am not a scholar of religions.  I know quite a bit about the way people think and even about the way people in other countries think, but I do not know very much specifically about every one of the millions of religions on the face of the earth.  Therefore, I cannot say I have chosen Christianity as a result of intensive research, but I will say I have done so as a result of much careful consideration, analysis of experience, and collaboration.  In fact, while the first two of these are often the most intellectually satisfying, the third is almost always the most compelling.  If you are a Christian who is having some difficulty believing, I highly recommend talking to an atheist.  Do not, so much, try to argue with them; just talk, ask questions, and go through their thought process with them, and watch as it falls apart all by itself.  Usually, unless they are just genuinely confused people, atheists tend to be very good at arguing, but when it comes to mere philosophical thinking, they run in to natural issues (and please, I do not intend to offend any of my atheist friends, I am just trying to explain what course the debates generally take as a result of the very structure of reality–intellect is irrelevant).  As Christians, we have nothing to hide, there is no intellectual dishonesty that we must cover with word games or what have you.  Instead, the Christian’s duty in an apologetics debate is to stay out-of-the-way of truth and let satins lies expose themselves˚.  All this should be done with the most gracious and loving of attitudes, for it is an attempt to free your opponent’s (whom you would rather call your friend) mind from the lies just as much as it is to free your own.

This post is entitled “what’s left” because I here intend to address what is left of the issue of the Omnipotent; this is the transition post from metaphysics to theology, if we would pretend the argument were so well-organized.  As I have already implied, the primary task that remains for us is to identity which organized religion best suits our derived metaphysical model†. As I said, I am not a scholar of religions; therefore, I will proceed by identifying the necessary qualities of a satisfactory religion and this done, we shall find that the Christian model sticks out dramatically in its principles.  It is for this reason that I hold it to be somewhat superfluous to deal individually with every single religion we can possibly find; though I would by no means discourage the process, for there is likely much wisdom to be gained from such an endeavor.  After all, as C. S. Lewis writes (excuse my failure to bother with exact quotes), while the atheist must hold all talk of anything beyond naturalism as utter nonsense, the Christian is free to believe, and even expect, there to be bits of truth in all religions.

To be clear, concise, and orderly, three things which I almost never am, the sort of religion we should be searching for based on the argument this far posses the following qualities:

  1. It should be centered on an Omnipotent being, a God, that is the cause and definition of all of reality.  This excludes pantheism/polytheism because the quest should be for a root cause, not an inexplicable set of causes–there should be a singular, Omnipotent source of being.  If we instead hold separately the source of each faculty of being, then our argument for reason breaks down and we fall into a cyclical (recursive) insanity.  For our logical scope is dependent on the interdependencies of each of the faculties of being.  That is, if we are sets of unrelated characteristics, then we cannot be “rational thoughts” inside of the Omnipotent’s mind (for rational thoughts must be coherent), and therefore, we cannot explain the cause of logic, and we have left the absolutist scope established earlier through the art of rhetoric. To simplify, there cannot be one god of logic who is not good and one god of goodness who is not logical, as pantheism/polytheism requires, because if that were so, neither would be omnipotent in the sense we have described, the sense that is required in order for a functional scope of logic to exist–logic would no longer be universal, but instead would have a partitioned domain of reality in which to exist.  The alternative is a fractal reality: one that is entirely logical, entirely good, and entirely every other characteristic which the Omnipotent possesses by our model.  This is necessary just as every other part of the argument is necessary: reality must have a root cause, and there we must find also the cause of reason, morality, love, and being-hood.  Pantheism/polytheism are primarily an illusion–usually, they are based around a model that really uses one god from whom others were derived, thus not really being Gods due to their lack of self-sufficiency.˚
  2. Its God should be entirely good, loving, and logical.  As concluded in “The Character of the Omnipotent.”
  3. It should allow for the use of reason.  If any religion does not allow one to contemplate its truth-hood, then there is no reason to suspect it to be true: for even by doing so, you are rejecting its truth-hood.  (Consider the paradoxical sentence: “This statement is false.”)
  4. It should acknowledge us as a part of the Omnipotent’s creation.
  5. It should acknowledge the infinite domain of existence of the Omnipotent as well as of his perfected creation.  It should also allow for the possibility of evil and the natural consequences that arise from morality and immorality as a result of the moral structure of reality. That is, it should allow non-being–the natural consequence of evil due to the fact that all being is good.
  6. It should satisfy the “Art of Thought”–a subject that I will likely touch one in a future post.
Even after this brief list of qualities†, the possible candidate religions are greatly narrowed.  However, there is one piece of the puzzle that is yet missing–a piece whose absence, in all religions that I know of but one, excludes them from the running. That puzzling piece is the reconciliation of natural justice (that non-being stuff) and love.  I know of many religions that simultaneously acknowledge justice and love (usually with a tendency to focus on one or the other), but I am yet to find a religion other than Christianity that allows the two an infinite domain of being.  It goes back to my formally seemingly useless ramblings about pantheism and polytheism.  There are many religions that allow for a partitioned domain in which love may exist and another section in which justice may exist, but only Christianity explains how they may both exist infinitely as they must by our model. It does so with a story:
We have a God who created us perfectly in His own image (like what the pagans call gods).  He loved us infinitely and gave us the capability to love Him and, consequentially, the freedom not to.  We chose not to and the natural consequence should have been death.  Upon our rejection of His love, we were (or would have been–of course time is hardly relevant, and mostly metaphorical) dethroned of our being-hood; however, being a loving God, He chose to give of Himself, thus meeting the definition of a loving God, instead of allowing for the termination of ourselves.  If you have theoretical difficulty with this part, think of Him as thrusting being-hood back into us via the giving of his own being-hood.  Of course, He leaves our salvation ultimately up to us thus leaving the free will intact.  Even after his saving of us, we can still choose to turn away. “Sometimes no matter how much life you give something, it dies anyway.”
Allow me to further relate the story to our model: It is as if our being-hood, our very selves, were a sandcastle built by God, and He gave us the option to enjoy it as it is or knock it down. We chose to knock it down–to knock ourselves down–and so God drew from Himself, a Being of infinite sand, to rebuild it.  Upon rebuilding it, He gave us the choice once more, only this time with us knowing, in the highest sense of the word, what the consequence of destroying it is.  Thus, the result of a redeemed humanity is the exact same thing God created in the fist place only now with a knowledge, or self-awareness, of what that existence is˚.  Hence you have the theme of death and resurrection sprinkled all throughout the universe.
And now my dear friends, that all this messy theorizing and calculating not go to waste, we must move the second faculty of the soul in order that our step up the mountain of purgatory be a complete one†.  That faculty is the will: what are we to do with all this theory?  If our conclusion is correct, then all of our lives here on this earth are but the occurrence of a single event: the decision between eternal live and eternal death.  That’s it.  There is never a moment of meaninglessness, nor a moment of incomparable value.  No amount of pleasure is worth enjoying nor amount of pain worth avoiding if only you may make the right decision about heaven.  “All is vanity under God.”  The only thing that matters at all is God Himself, and therefore the only thing that matters in this life is that precious decision.  Whatever age you are, life is almost over.  Do not let anything get in the way of Heaven, for nothing is worth it.  Choose  very carefully.

˚Like the ‘act of non-action’ for you eastern thinkers

† I apologize for this awkward shift from a Christian perspective to an objective one.  I might rather say: the task remains to explain why our model is best embodied in Christianity.

˚ This is me being clear, concise, and orderly!

† Brief

˚ Of course, with fractal reality, all this story stuff is entirely true and entirely false depending on what you mean by it.  There is indeed a sense in which the redeemed humanity will have never left Heaven because (1) the whole story, even the death, is a part of his paradise, (2) even as a dead man, he was bound for eternal life.  Although he did have a choice in the matter, because he chose life, he may look back at when he was dead and realize that even then he was in paradise because he was on his way to becoming an everlasting splendor, and (3) a finite amount of time spent dead is completely and literally negligible when held next to a timeless eternity of life.

† If you don’t know what I’m talking about, but do care, look up the medieval model of the soul.

One thought on “What’s Left

  1. I enjoyed this discussion. Without self-sufficiency a god is not God. Also we must choose carefully. Lastly, no matter how much life you put in something it may still die. This is important for all to consider as they journey on in this world and surrender daily to God’s purposes in their life. There would be less self-destruction, in its many forms, if more people took these words to heart.

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