On Staying Open For Isness
The book description says that for the last three centuries -- or ever since the scientific revolution -- "Christian philosophers and theologians tried to preserve God's transcendence by denying any continuity between the natural and the supernatural. In so doing they inadvertently played into the hands of those who wanted to push God to the margins, or even to deny him altogether. The result was to lay the foundations of modernism, as well as secular humanism."
If I am not mistaken, this was Kant's main concern -- that science would eclipse faith -- so he "resolved" the problem by suggesting that science not only dealt with phenomena or appearances (or maya), but that these phenomena had no intrinsic reality. Rather, they were only representations of the nervous system. Thus, he severed the link between mind and reality, since all we could ever really know were species-bound forms of our own sensibility. (One again thinks of Escher's drawing of the hand drawing the hand drawing itself.)
Reality, the noumena, the thing-in-itself, becomes an absolutely closed book. The result is, in Whitehead's words -- to be honest, I just wasted about fifteen minutes unsuccessfully attempting to track down the exact quote -- something to the effect of an epistemology with a cloud on one side and a dream on the other. Science deals with the dream, while religion deals with the cloud.
Thanks, Manny! Way to save religion!
The whole point of religion is that it discloses transcendent and perennial truths. Indeed, I would call it the science of the noumenon (and note that noumenon cannot be plural, or "noumena," as Kant implied).
In contrast, science does indeed describe phenomena, except that the phenomena are properties of real objects, not just the dream-forms of our nervous system.
This is completely consistent with both the Judeo-Christian tradition and with Vedanta, the latter of which is often mischaracterized as a metaphysic that doesn't regard the world as "real." Undoubtedly there are vulgar forms of Vedanta that do this, just as there are vulgar forms of Christianity that deny free will and horizontal causation.
But the whole point of the maya principle is that the world is real, just not ultimately real. Rather, it is a prolongation, or "projection," so to speak, of the deeper/higher reality. To think of maya as "pure illusion" would be to make Kant's mistake, and sever the world from its source and Principle.
Kant was of course preceded by Luther, who severed reason and faith, and therefore knowledge and will, through his theory of justification by faith alone.
Thus, if faith is a matter of will, it doesn't matter if you don't understand what you are willing yourself to believe, so long as you believe it. This absurd doctrine has been the source of the Jesus Willies in more than a few intelligent people, who are not enthusiastic about the idea of ignoring and devaluing the brains God gave them.
Luther's metaphysic completely eliminates the (↑) from the (↓↑). But in so doing, he really eliminates real grace altogether, which is actually a circular (or spiraling) process, as described yesterday. In the last analysis, our aspiration is God's inspiration, so that even faith is (obviously) a gift of the Spirit, and our own perfection of that gift is itself another gift.
As Borella describes it, without the divine assistance of grace (↓), "no one can raise the natural powers of the soul to the supernatural level of a true and consistent adherence to faith. This grace assists the intellect in the act by which it grasps revealed truths, and assists the will in the act by which it desires that to which the intellect applies itself."
Again, it is circular, so to participate in it is to participate in the life of a kind of trinitarian circle of emanation and return, or "flowing forth" and "flowing back." It is not just a static assent to the statistically improbable or frankly absurd.
Therefore, through participation in this virtuous circle of (↓↑), "habitual grace effects a real change in our soul, a change by which our very being is opened up to the awareness of supernatural realities." The effect of grace is to actualize and give form to "the soul's capacity to be receptive to the spiritual or supernatural," or what I symbolize (o).
It seems almost silly to have to point out that it's not either/or, i.e., damned or saved, as believed by so many evangelicals. Rather, it is a path, a journey, a Way.
Yes, we are fallen, but our essence nevertheless remains supernatural in a multitude of ways, both subtle and obvious. "And unless the believer experiences within his being, by virtue of a truly spiritual instinct, a kind of connaturality with the world of faith, how can this [higher] world be other than totally alien?"
This is an excellent question, for it goes to Luther's idea that we must simply assent to an absurdity that we do not understand, as opposed to cultivating our deep intuition that the higher world is our proper home.
"But God cannot refuse to enlighten the heart which is open to grace, that is, to grant to a human being some minimum of intelligibility in the act of faith, lacking which no progress of belief, either in thought or will, would have any meaning.
"Be that as it may, this initial grace [↓] of the sense of the supernatural is only granted to the extent that an individual's heart is open [o] and receptive [---]. And therefore it can be lost, either in part or totally, in proportion to the degree that the human heart closes and hardens" (Borella; pneumaticons added by El Bob Gagdad).