Let the Dead Bury the Tenured
In other words, the religious person explicitly says Yes to a set of first principles that cannot be proved in the usual way. To be sure, they can be proved, but as Schuon has noted, these types of metaphysical or ontological arguments are not the causes of certainty, only the consequences.
That is, I doubt if too many people are convinced of the reality of O through metaphysical argument, even though the arguments are, on their own plane, incapable of refutation. But to even get into a riposting contest with a skunk is beside the point, because the atheist's first principles are also irrefutable on their own plane, which begins with faith in those very principles, i.e., an act of will.
Or usually something a little deeper than faith, something more like feeling, or intuition. The bottom line is this: the believer just senses something more, while the unbeliever just senses "nothing."
Which is not a negative judgment; rather it is the affirmation of a feeling that there is just nothing there, and that it is therefore not worth the effort to entertain that hypothesis and venture down that avenue. Again, as Polanyi has discussed at length, this is really how all science proceeds -- with a feeling that this would be a potentially fruitful avenue of discovery, while that wouldn't be. (Or in the case of a corrupt science such as "climate change," that "this would be a remunerative avenue to pursue.")
Which is why I don't believe any truly visionary scientist -- say, Einstein -- would ever absolutely exclude the "God hypothesis," for he is far too respectful of the mystery of the cosmos. Plus, Einstein, as much as anyone, was aware of the danger of accepting the conventional wisdom of science as some kind of last word on the nature of reality. It was only because he explicitly rejected this last word that he was able to utter the "first words" of the relativity (and later quantum) revolution.
Schuon makes the additional critical point that ontological arguments for the existence of God do not so much appeal to the intellect as the substance . They will not be operative in a "mutilated intelligence" that is alienated from its own ground and substance.
For example, imagine a man who has convinced himself that reality may only be understood "quantitatively." In order to believe such a thing, the person must already be so far from the cosmic center -- and so lost at the periphery -- that such an explanation "satisfies" him. Note that last word: no matter how "quantitative" the person, no matter how big the nerd, he still has to be "satisfied" with the numbers, so that an element of "aesthetics," as it were, still enters through the back door.
The point is -- and ironically, both atheists and literalists will disagree with this -- that neither science nor theology can be "closed systems" in relation to metaphysics. Or, they can do this, but at the cost of certain inevitable absurdities. The atheist exploits these absurdities -- or splinters -- of exoteric religion in order to reject religion altogether, while failing to notice the beam in his own metaphysical eye.
I realize that I have a number of readers who are unashamed of being what are called "fundamentalists" or "literalists," and they are obviously welcome. But this blog is clearly not coming from that perspective, nor is it aimed at such readers. I am quite sure that there are thousands of such blogs catering to them, but ours serves an entirely different purpose.
For we say that revelation is not true because God revealed it; rather, we insist that God revealed it because it is true. In other words, truth is prior to revelation. Or, as we have expressed it in the past, the mischievous Raccoon always asks of this or that religious truth, by virtue of what principle?
For example, you say that the third person of the Trinity incarnated as the man Jesus. We say -- and not in a blasphemous way, mind you -- by virtue of what principle? Things only happen because it is possible for them to happen. Please note that we do not approach the question in the spiritually corrosive manner of the committed atheist or the "Jesus seminarians."
To the contrary. We do so in the spirit of Toots. Which, by the way, goes to the question some people ask of the B'ob, "hey, why don't you commit to one path, say Catholicism, as has Mrs. G?" One reason is that if I were to do this, it would too easy for the tenured to dismiss me as "just a Catholic thinker" instead of "just a crank blogger."
Anyway, Schuon makes the critical point that theology is in need of metaphysics, not necessarily for its own sake, but for the sake of the very people to whom it is addressed, which is only "everyone." And not all of the people to whom it is addressed are "simple people of faith," so to speak.
And when we say this, I'm sure you realize by now that we are not being the least bit coondescending. I can always relate to the "simple person of faith" much more compatibly than the "complicated person of no faith," because I can easily convert my language to that of the former, whereas this is basically impossible in the case of the latter, who have neither the interest nor the aptitude.
In contrast, many "simple believers" have the aptitude, but it just doesn't interest them all that much. Especially women, if I may make a broad generalization about broads. For example, Mrs. G enjoys and appreciates my writing, but I think it's safe to say that she enjoys going to communion much more. I mean, whatever you think of my writing, I will be the first to acknowledge that it can't do that. True, cut this blog, sir, and it bleeds my blood. But I do not commend it as a beverage.
So, just to wrap up this line of thought, I think it is especially important in this day and age -- the age of tenured stupidity -- to realize that a religion is not truly "complete" without a foundation in esoterism and metaphysics. If nothing else, failure to appreciate this leaves some gaping holes that secularists are just itching to exploit in order to make their adversaries look stupid.
As Schuon expresses it, exoteric religion has certain intellectual "fissures" that "only sacred science can fill lest the powers of darkness intrude." Only esoterism "possesses sufficient lights to face all possible objections and also to give a positive explanation of religion."
And please understand that this is hardly a bulletin. Rather, this is precisely what Thomas attempted -- and succeeded in doing -- with the Summa. In it, he made the bold attempt to integrate science, philosophy and revelation -- and to answer "all possible objections" in a perfectly sufficient manner.
But again: it is only sufficient to the person who hasn't already alienated himself from his own spiritual substance, not to the person who has placed his faith in matter or number or sensation or whatever. Only he who already bears the truth in his substance can recognize and "hear" it when it is given to him. And it can only be given, not imposed; just as it can only be rejected, not disproved.