Dasein: the kind of existence that self-conscious human beings uniquely possess.
Horizontal folks -- flatland materialists, secular pneumapaths, left-brainers, MENSA members, et al -- love to sneer at religion and exalt the superiority of science or mere reason in understanding the world. But when they do this, they always deal with a caricature of religion based upon their own limited horizontal understanding. In this regard, they are very much like children or primitive people who cannot transcend their narrow cognitive horizons, and mock what they do not understand. As Dr. John Lennox said in his debate with Richard Dawkins, "I don't believe in the God you disbelieve in." While man, so long as he is a man, cannot help being religious, it is nevertheless striking how passionately Dawkins believes in his silly little anti-god.
It was said by someone that secular philosophy involves “a journey of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.” It is interesting that 2500 years of thought has produced no consensus at all regarding even the most basic understanding of existence. Don’t get me wrong -- there is much to be gained from studying the great philosophers, if only because you can enter the mind of a formidable intellect attempting to grapple with the meaning of existence. But there is no purely human philosophy that cannot be disproven by another clever philosopher. [I would now say that philosophy inhabits a "middle area" between science and theology; if placed in this context, it can obviously be quite useful.]
In the final analysis, all of the philosophies devised by man are more or less failures. They all fall short in some critical way. Either they begin with unwarranted assumptions that cannot be justified by their philosophy -- i.e., they start at second base without having earned the right to be on first -- or they cut off their philosophy at an arbitrary point. If philosophy consists of “asking why,” they simply stop asking why at a certain juncture and then call it complete.
But no form of horizontal thought can be complete, for self-evident reasons. The divine plenitude spills over into reality like rays from the central sun. Various philosophers describe one of the rays but ignore the sun. The individual rays have their own relative validity, but none is ultimately superior or inferior to the others. This is why there is no agreement among the greatest philosophical minds that have ever lived -- indeed, they are often polar oppostes, such as realism vs. materialism or empiricism vs. rationalism.
Philosophy and science try to understand the sun by studying the rays, which is precisely why they generate metaphysical paradox and confusion. On the other hand, to study religion is to study the properties of the sun. Religion deals with perennial truths about the sun that cannot not be true, which is why it is so easy to prove the existence of God. It is much more difficult to prove how it is that humans can exist. However, once you understand the nature of the sun, this becomes possible as well. As a matter of fact, our mysterious inwardness -- our divine-human consciousness -- is one of the inevitable results of the eternal sun’s very nature, which is to spill over into time and share its absolute being with its various middling relativities.
Religion gives the name “God” to the knowable aspect of this divine sun. But just like everything else, humans can only know what they can know. Since we exist in the relative, any view of the absolute is necessarily going to be partial and incomplete. Even to “see the face of God” is nevertheless to see a “relative absolute,” because there is something behind the face we cannot see; behind the Son is the Father, so to speak. Since it is transcendent it is no-thing, but since it is immanent it is everything. It just depends on how you look or unlook at it.
Science can never account for the scientist, that is, for the human subject capable of knowing real truth. Again, it simply assumes the existence of truth-bearing scientists, as if this is not deeply philosophically problematic. How can the watered-down evolution of reductionistic Darwinism ever account for that? It can only pretend to do so, again, by confusing the rays with the sun. But to understand Darwinism is to have transcended it.
In order for relative existence to exist, the One must be split down the middle. Ultimately there is only God and God’s reflection, Creator and creation. The more distant from God, the more dim the reflection. Rumor has it that human beings are in the image of the Creator. Of course, the image is not the reality, it is only a four-dimensional facsimian. Religion as a verb involves transforming this image into a hyper-dimensional likeness. To intuit the image is to be called. To actualize it is to be born again. To become it is to die. Good riddance!
To know Truth is to die a little. Day by day, little by little, we must die. In order to live.
Now, is it possible for religion to pose anything more than a rearguard action against the inevitable transformation of man from homo religiosus to homo scientificus? In the West, science so dominates our way of looking at the world that perhaps we don't realize the magnitude of the spiritual revolution (or devolution) this has entailed. While I endorse science (almost) without reservation, I do worry about its deleterious effect on the human soul when it is absurdly elevated to a metaphysic. To me, it is simply self-evident that the infrahuman metaphysic of reductionistic Darwinism, if embraced by all people, would eventually spell the end of Man as Such.
There are, of course, people who wish to keep science and religion entirely separate, which has the practical effect of elevating the scientistic worldview to a default state religion. On the other side are people who wish to conflate science and religion, which can end up debasing both. As I have said before, I am a believer in “intelligent design” for the same reason I am a believer in intelligence period. It is simply a necessary consequence of the existence of the Divine Intellect. In other words, I would never try to prove the existence of God through intelligent design; rather, vice versa. Obviously the world is uniquely intelligible to man's transcendent intellect.
But this is metaphysics, not science, and should not be taught as such, because it is higher than science, obviously not on the same low material plane. The problem is, Darwinism should be taught as science, not metaphysics, but virtually all of the middlebrow atheistic activists absurdly elevate it to a quasi-religious metaphysic that is logically self-refuting at every turn. In turn -- and I have noticed this, for example, in many threads at LGF -- militant atheists do indeed confuse Darwinism with metaphysics, and blindly defend it with the same belligerence as any "fundamentalist." Light simply cannot break through their hardened defenses.
It is true that there would be no atheists if all men were capable of understanding metaphysics. As pure truth, metaphysics is aimed at the nous, not the distorted and hypertrophied reasoning mind of the contemporary intellectual. Truth is true despite what may be proved or disproved with mere reason, which is a mechanical form of thought limited to drawing conclusions from premises. It has its place, but one of them is not the realm of primordial Truth per se. It is a banality to point out that the most important truths cannot be proved with reason. That doesn't make them any less true.
Tradition willfully attempts to maintain a purified faith in the teeth of the predations of a misguided scientism. There are certain particularly elevated and/or simple souls for whom this will suffice. But that probably represents less than two percent of the population on the high end, and perhaps a quarter of the population on the low end. That leaves at least seventy percent of the population generally spiritually adrift and untouched by metaphysical truth. How to reach them? For whatever reason, they have lost contact with the natural simplicity and nobility of their souls, so religion properly so-called no longer speaks to them as it was intended to. Thus they drift into materialism, or hedonism, or its twin sister, new-age spiritualism, with no grounding in the intrinsic meaning provided by authentic revelation and grace.
There is absolutely no contradiction between science and this latter form of religion, for they simply address different levels of reality. Religion easily accommodates science, while the reverse can never be true. Religion accommodates science for the same reason that our minds do. For our minds are designed to know truth, pure and simple, whether it is empirical truth, rational truth, artistic truth, moral truth, or metaphysical truth. Intelligence itself is prior to what it knows, and what it knows is truth (otherwise, “knowledge” is a meaningless, even absurd term). Therefore, intelligence is truth itself implanted within our soul.
As much as I respect tradition, I am very concerned about it reducing itself to a simple fideism, or faith, rather than appealing directly to the higher intellect. Again, there are gifted and simple people for whom this will suffice, but the great middling masses -- leftist dominated academia, the creators and purveyors of popular culture, media elites in the MSMistry of Truth -- entirely miss the boat in this regard. They are just intelligent enough to reject religion but not intelligent enough to understand it, and they obviously exercise a huge, dominant influence over the culture at large. How to win that battle?
The fact of the matter is that modernity has brought with it certain positive and undeniably precious developments, such as the sanctity of the individual and all this implies -- liberty, democracy, free markets, etc. But at the same time, a new kind of religion -- or rather, different inflection of the perennial religion -- is required for this new kind of person. This religion must be more inward because we have become more inward. In other words, cosmic evolution doesn’t just take place outwardly but inwardly, on the "subjective horizon." As a matter of fact, it is this evolution of the interior horizon that has always been the concern of religion, even if and when religion did not explicitly recognize it.
I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit it now, but when I began the task of writing my book, I thought that I was going to have to invent a new religion. In my hubris, I thought, well, times have changed, and we know so much more now than we did when the original revelations were handed down. What if we could design a new religion now, based upon everything we know about the universe?
It is actually a measure of God’s grace that my attempt to do this ultimately led me in exactly the opposite direction and saved me from trying to be L. Bob Gagdad. In all humility, I do believe this is because I approached the endeavor in all humility. In other words, I was motivated solely by the humble pursuit of truth, wherever it led me. There were no commercial motivations whatsoever (although it is probably another measure of God's grace that my publisher only later discovered this bitter economic reality). As a matter of fact -- I shouldn’t say this, but here goes -- I practiced meditation every day during the course of writing the book, and in so doing prayed for two things only: light, or understanding, and the ability to express it.
Now, I’m not nearly grandiose enough to say I succeeded (I won't presume to speak for Petey). Since the process is ongoing, there are a lot of little things I would now say differently in the book, and perhaps someday I'll re-read it and spell those out. But that’s not the point I’m trying to make. What I am saying is that if you really want to deeply understand religion -- and therefore, yourself -- you can. That’s what it’s here for. It’s not meant to be opaque, or absurd, or primitive, or outdated. Rather, no matter how intelligent or sophisticated you think you are, that kind of superficial intelligence really doesn't reach down (or up) to the deepest (or highest) part of your being. Religion expresses truths that cannot be proved in the ordinary way, for the simple reason that Truth is its own proof. Ultimately you do not comprehend it. It comprehends you. And that is a daily mirrorcle.
Further reading by a philosopher of science who gets it: