The "Faith" of the Tenured vs. The Faith of the Wise
For example, since he's going to keep posting it again anyway, I might as well tell you that our blind troll really, really, wants my readers to know about this biologist, Ursula Goodenough, who has her own ideas about nature and religion, and that they differ from mine. He wants you to know that he is a victim, a victim I tell you, of my tyrannical "censorship" because I do not want my cult members to be exposed to an alternative doctrine that might liberate you from my clutches blah blah blah.
The review at the top says that she espouses "a kind of religious naturalism that will not be unfamiliar to readers of New Age literature." I certainly don't want my readers to know about that secret. I mean, I'd never alert them to those other demented, I mean brilliant theologians who have successfully reconciled spirit and nature!
As an asnide, as you all know, there is way too much material on the internet for any person to deal with even a fraction of it. However, I've discovered a shortcut that I recommend to others. When you read an editorial, don't necessarily waste your time with the whole thing. Rather, stop reading the moment you encounter a statement that is irretrievably stupid. I think you'll find that with most leftist, atheist, or materialist (or naturalist, or whatever their calling themselves these days) material, you often cannot get past the fatal flaws of the first sentence. ("Materialist material." Heh.)
A case in point is Goodenough's book. I'm sure she's a nice lady and a good scientist and everything, but as it pertains to metaphysics, she is strictly amateur, a dabbler, a Sunday painter. While her musings may be goodenough for the tenured, they are just a reminder of some old blandmarks we saw long ago in the foothills of our journey. Breaking news: nature is sacred. But it is specifically sacred because of its metaphysical transparency, because of the divine energies that shine through it, not because it "obeys the laws of physics." Sacred is an ontological category, not a side effect of math.
Furthermore, she has the self-regard to "think through" things that have already been fully thought through by people much more brilliant -- not to mention illuminated -- than she will ever be, so the whole exercise is rather childish.
Really, it's just a way to create a kind of faux religion that will be acceptable to the NPR listening/Slate reading/MENSA geeks who hate religion on its own terms. Let me be clear: there is nothing whatsoever wrong about demonstrating the compatibility of science and religion, which obviously cannot not be compatible, since truth is One. Problems only arise when the latter is reduced to the former, which is a cosmic impossibility.
Anyway, I couldn't get past the very first sentence of the book: Everything in our universe, including the Earth and its living creatures, obeys the laws of physics, laws that became manifest in the first moments of time. Oh, really? What is this, a premise? A conclusion? A faith?
Whatever it is, it is plainly wrong by its own lights, for if it is true, it is a truth that clearly cannot be reduced to the laws of physics, on pain of eliminating not only its own truth, but the very possibility of truth.
But this is what materialists -- excuse me, naturalists -- do. They begin with their implicit prejudicial faith in matter, and then conclude that matter (or the "laws" that "govern it") is all there is. This woman may call herself "religious," but there are certain intrinsic heresies in theology that in our view immediately place one outside the domain of theology -- for the same reason that there are intrinsic scientific heresies that place oneself outside the scientific world view, say, belief in miracles as a scientific explanation.
I'm not necessarily criticizing Goodenough. She's obviously a sincere person who is trying to figure things out on her own, but that's a big part of the problem. Again, intellects far more exalted than hers have already figured it out, e.g., Aquinas, Eckhart, Schuon, etc. No, these three do not agree in all the details. That's not their job. Rather, that's my job -- to reconcile the knowledge of those who truly know, and in turn to reconcile that with what science "knows."
This is precisely what Aquinas attempted some seven or eight centuries ago. We're getting a little sidetracked here, but I think it's important. As Pieper emphasizes, first of all, Aquinas had the proper qualifications to approach the subject, in that he was objective, dispassionate, and pure, an adjective that the tenured would just laugh at as irrelevant at best.
But hear us now, believe us later: there is no knowledge of higher things in the absence of purity, for you will just bring your impurities with you and confuse them with reality. Purity is to theology what, say, integrity and intellectual honesty are to the scientist. Without it, nothing they say can be trusted.
This is not something that only applies to theology, but to psychology as well. When a mentally ill person opines on the nature of the mind, what do you suppose he sees? Obviously, job one for the true metapsychologist is the sufficient insight and self-understanding to have at least recognized one's mind parasites, even if one hasn't fully domesticated them. This requires a level of personal honesty that most people do not possess, not for conscious reasons, but for unconscious reasons, since the very purpose of psychological defense mechanisms is to blind the person to his own true motivations.
Thus, applied to the domain of spirit, sincere humility is the minimum requirement. To paraphrase Thomas, the first-born daughter of unchastity is "blindness of spirit." Pieper goes on to explain that "Only he who wants nothing for himself, who is not subjectively 'interested,' can know the truth." Again, remember what we were saying yesterday about the suspension of memory, desire, and understanding.
Also, Pieper emphasizes that Thomas was, above all else, a teacher. True, he was probably the greatest philosopher who has ever lived, but he would have been the last to characterize himself in those terms. Rather, he mainly prayed for two things: truth or wisdom and the ability to impart it to others. Oh yes, and a third thing: that "his life would not outlast his teaching." Since there was no internet in those days, -- I think that's correct -- this was by no means assured, especially since Thomas left not a single disciple at the time of his death. We're lucky that someone didn't just toss it all in the nearest dumpster.
"To lead a man from error to truth -- this he considered the greatest service which one man can render another." Amen! More: "Teaching is a process that goes on between living men" -- and I might add that both needn't technically be merely "biologically" living, for as I have said on many occasions, it is very much possible to have a vibrantly living relationship with a teacher who is no longer on this side of the veil. In fact, if you don't have such a relationship with at least one such person, ur probbly doin it rong.
"The teacher looks not only at the truth of things; at the same time he looks at the faces of living men who desire to know this truth. Love of truth and love of men -- only the two together constitute a teacher."
And by no means does the study of philosophy involve merely learning "what others have thought but to learn the truth of things." Again, the true teacher does not impart (k) but facilitates (n). Thus, it is fundamentally impossible to impart the truth of O through (k), rather, only its outlines and shadows. A third thing is required, what I symbolized in the book as (you know, that equal sign with wavy lines). This is how (n) is imparted from one soul to another.
Thus, none of this is irrelevant to our discussion of faith, which is above all else a tacit foreknowledge of as yet undiscovered truths, so that faith itself is already an aspect of the truth it seeks. Fathermore, even -- or especially! -- God has an analogue of dynamic faith within his person: "The divine archetype of faith is the 'yes' which God says to Himself; it is the Logos which on the one hand mirrors the Divine Infinity, and on the other hand refracts it" (Schuon).
I'll leave you with some more typically lucid words of Schuon:
"Faith is the participation of the will in the intelligence; just as on the physical plane man adapts his action to the physical facts which determine its nature, so also, on the spiritual plane, he should act in accordance with his convictions, by inward activity even more than by outward activity, for 'before acting one must first be,' and our being is nothing else but our inward activity. The soul must be to the intelligence what beauty is to truth, and this is what we have called the 'moral qualification' that should accompany the 'intellectual qualification.'”
The wife just captured a fleeting image of this water sprite in the backyard with her phone: