On the Certainty of Doubt and Vision of the Blind
But there is no such proof, only adequation, so trying to "prove" something to the inadequate is obviously a complete and total waste of time. Unless you somehow enjoy the exercise. I do not. I haven't the slightest interest in the fantasies of the godless, except insofar as the manner in which they threaten my life, my property, and my liberty.
As Schuon explains, these relativists absurdly "dispute the value of metaphysical certainty" by setting it in opposition to the "certitude of error." For example, one familiar troll trotted out the old optical illusion argument -- as if the existence of illusions doesn't prove the reality!
Only a human being can say to himself, "I thought it was a _____, but dang, what it really was was a _____!" The illusion is dependent upon the reality, not vice versa. This is elementary. Not only did God become man so that man might become God, but more generally, reality becomes appearance so that appearance might become reality. In a way, we are all "optical illusions" until we see through the various layers of contingency and realize who and what we actually are. We are not an error, only in error -- which is always a privation, not an essence.
Doubt is not truth, only a way to truth, specifically, a forswearing of immediate appearances in order to await the arrival of truth, which is anterior to appearances. I doubt that the sun travels around the earth, but don't end my inquiry there. Rather, I eventually arrive at the truth that the earth travels around the sun, which is true enough in its own way, and is certainly adequate to get me through life. I don't really need to know that the Milky Way spirals around its own invisible center, and all the rest. It's all very nice, but it's not as if it's going to save my life or help the Dodgers fend off the Rockies.
It reminds me of an aesthetically needy friend who was hanging some of his wife's paintings in the office yesterday. He asked me how they looked, and I said "retarded" or "aesthetically dyslexic." He eagerly asked how and where they were supposed to go, and I explained that this one had to go there, that those two needed a third to balance them out, that this one should be in the middle, that that one needed to be closer to the light, and that the wall over there should remain empty in order to give him an occasional respite from thinking about Debbie all day. Fifteen hours a day should be enough for any woman.
Now, how did I know these things? I am not gay. Nor did anyone ever teach them to me. Frankly, given a little time, I could have fine-tuned things, but the point is, I just knew that the existing arrangement was not only retarded in its totality, but in so being, did damage to the individual paintings, which were unable to reveal their full potential as a result of being in the wrong place and in the wrong hands.
Does this little anecdote prove the existence of God? No. It's just one more little clue out of hundreds that routinely occur each day. Add up all the circumstantial evidence, and eventually the proof is overwhelming. Except to the jury nullification of atheism.
My friend was only mildly aesthetically bewildered, but certainly educable -- and not resentful, of all things, about the advice. Once the paintings were in place, he immediately apprehended the truth of the situation. Thus, we saw the same reality. But an aesthetically retarded individual can actually believe all kinds of things that cannot possibly be beautiful and therefore true. Much modern art falls into this category, but this type of infrahuman art is ultimately to beauty what atheism is to truth. It is parasitic, not symbiotic.
As Schuon explains -- and which our trolls prove -- "The fact that a lunatic feels certain he is something that he is not does not prevent us from being certain of what he is and what we ourselves are, and the fact that we are unable to prove to him that he is mistaken does not prevent us from being right." Perhaps it's my training and experience as a psychotherapist, but the idea of arguing with a troll is entirely foreign to me. It just doesn't come up as a viable option.
Again, in analytic therapy, there are always two things (actually, many more than two) going on. There is what you observe and verbally share; and there is what the patient does with it. The latter is particularly important and requires a lot of discipline, because you have to exit the everyday mode of semantic discourse, and "hover above" so as to observe what is going on from a meta-level. One must be particularly attentive to the myriad ways a patient "disunderstands" what you convey to them, for this disunderstanding is a consequence of their pathology. Generally, the sicker the person, the greater the disunderstanding.
So to continue with Schuon, "the fact that an unbalanced person may possibly have misgivings about his condition does not oblige us to have them about our own, even if we find it impossible to prove to him that our certainty is well founded." One can well imagine an angry patient firing back with words to the effect of, Oh, I see. You're right by definition. Everyone who disagrees with you has 'mind parasites.' Well, your clever insights into me might appeal to your other dim-witted patients, but you don't fool me. They probably all think you're some kind of perfect being, but I see what a pompous ass you are.
Again, far be it from me to argue with a patient's perceptions of me and farther be it to argue with the eccentric ravings of a troll, who is simply the inevitable illusion that proves the truth. Indeed, if I were to argue, I would simply reinforce them. At this point you will have a variety of options, but much depends upon the quality of the therapeutic relationship and the patient's capacity for insight. But in any case, you always come back to O, that is, to the emotional truth of the immediate situation, for example, "I see that you're very angry with me right now. Can you say more about what it feels like I'm doing to you at the moment?"
Ultimately you want to get beneath the surface into unconscious fantasy material that links up the past with the present emotions felt toward me. But the key point to bear in mind -- for it equally applies to supraconscious realities -- is that the type of truth we are discussing cannot be proved, only undergone. And more often than not, a truth must not only be "undergone," but even suffered. For as Bion said, if one cannot suffer pain, one cannot suffer pleasure. The most profound truths are truly "catastrophic" because they leave no lie standing. No wonder people resist them! Father let this cup pass, etc.
So as Schuon says, "the only proof of hidden realities... is the realities themselves." (Yes, I fully understand that Schuon did not approve of psychoanalysis, but I see no evidence that he was acquainted with any post-Freudian developments; rather, he only tilted his lance at Freud, which is easy enough to do.)
Again, there is always going to be a gap between the proof and the reality. There is always an element of volition that allows us to accept or reject a proof. Thus, in insisting that we "prove" the existence of God, the atheist is asking for something that cannot be. Rather, proofs are "only pointers or keys," and even then, only to the adequate person of good will who actually wishes to know. "[T]he inward discovery of truth is always a leap into the void -- a leap incommensurate with mental premises, concepts, or other symbols" (Schuon).
Only a human being can "take the leap." For even to doubt is to express the implicit idea that the mind "is competent to doubt." But who said so? Analogously, to paraphrase Schuon, it is like examining the optic nerve in order to make certain that it is competent to see. But who's doing the examining? Let's also examine his optic nerve, and his, and his, and his, all the way back to sightless matter.
Ah ha! I finally see that vision is an optical illusion!