This is like most anything else. For example, when one says Yes to marriage in the presence of God and man, one cannot possibly know what one is signing up for. Rather, faith, both horizontal and vertical, spouse and vow, is an intrinsic part of the deal. I suppose that's why they call it being faithful.
It is the same with regard to choosing a career or pursuing a discipline. More generally, there would be no reason to get out of bed in the morning in the absence of faith.
In this regard, it seems that faith is phenomenologically related to hope. Therefore, faithlessness would apparently correspond to a kind of total cynicism: nothing to trust and no reason to trust it. Except, of course, for a total faith in the power of one's own corrosive cynicism.
As we have said before, the typical leftist somehow combines a childlike credulousness with an omniscient cynicism. It is specifically this combination of traits that made possible President Malevolent Cipher. The same ruthless cynicism that couldn't stop itself from preposterous attacks on George Bush turned into its seeming opposite, an innocent and childish faith in his successor.
As I wrote once upon a post, "contemporary philosophy does not begin with a sense of wonder, nor does it attempt to cultivate it. Rather, it begins with the capacity to doubt, and then aggravates it, eventually turning a good servant into a tyrannical master, for there is nothing that cannot be doubted by doubt. It takes no wisdom or skill at all. Any buffoon with a capacity to doubt is already pre-approved for tenure."
Josef Pieper writes of the orthoparadox that "Man is true to himself only when he is stretching forth -- in hope -- toward a fulfillment that cannot be reached in his bodily existence.” This paradox essentially revolves around the complementarity of being and becoming: or of Is and Ought, potential and fulfillment, time and eternity.
Life Itself is an audacious act of hope in the teeth of cosmic hopelessness. We might have well asked that first bit of matter that wrapped around itself and decided to go on being: just what are you hoping to accomplish here?
It seems that we have no right to horizontal hope -- or hope in history -- in the absence of a vertical hope for real fulfillment and genuine wholeness. Indeed, a purely horizontal hope is the very basis of the world-historical nightmares of the previous enlightened century. I don't think it is possible to place more hope in history than did the communist or national socialist, nor is it possible to bring about more radical change than they did.
Why hope? On what basis? Again, returning to the idea of life-as-hope, what is it hoping to accomplish? Is there an end game, an exist strategy, or is it just making things up as it grows along?
So long as one limits oneself to the horizontal perspective, there can be no purpose whatsoever in life. Someone like Jacques Monod was ruthlessly but refreshingly candid about this. "His thesis," writes Ratzinger, "is that the entire ensemble of nature has arisen out of errors and dissonances." Except that one.
Here is the purest possible example of the impossible doctrine of absolute relativity, i.e., the random error called Jacques Monod somehow having the ability to know ultimate truth. How it is possible for absolute contingency to pronounce on absolute necessity is wisely left unsaid. But if Monod's belief were true, it couldn't be known.
Interestingly, Monod (according to Ratzinger) rejects a priori any question to which the answer would be "God." Turning it around, this would also mean that the very idea of God can answer no legitimate questions. If it does, then there is something wrong with the question or questioner.
I don't know. That's an awful lot of faith to place in a meaningless cosmic accident. Could man really live in this kind of negative faith? Not if Life Itself is a hope for something transcending it, for how much more is the soul intrinsically oriented to that which surpasses it?
Among other arbitrary metaphysical errors, Monod is committed a priori to a monadic view of reality. But reality is not fundamentally a monad, Monod. Rather, it is fundamentally a relationship. There is nothing beyond, nothing more elemental, than Relation.
Our verticality makes this especially clear, since verticality is intrinsically oriented to the Great Beyond, O. Thus, man is man because he has an intrinsic relation to O. Yes, we are also oriented to the empirical world, but no man stays down there, except someone with severe autism or some tragic graduate school degree.
To quote Ratzinger, "God means, first of all, that human beings cannot be closed in on themselves." However, I believe this can be turned around to say: because human beings are not closed in on themselves, therefore God. In other words, God is the very possibility of our self-evident transcendence, both its origin and it destiny.
"God implies relationality," says Ratzinger. "It is the dynamic that sets the human being in motion toward the totally Other. Hence it means the capacity for relationship.... Human beings are, as a consequence, most profoundly human when they step out of themselves..."
To put in another why, God is indeed the only possible answer to the question, "how is it that human beings live in this vertical space of transcendent truth?"
Contrary to Monod, there is no serious question of this nature to which the answer could possibly be "natural selection," or "physics," or "biology." And in any event, the vertical questioner always transcends the horizontal answer.
This means that in him alone appears the complete answer to the question about what the human being is.... human persons are beings en route, beings characterized by transition. They are not yet themselves; they must ultimately become themselves.... They are oriented toward their future, and only it permits who they really are to appear completely. --Josef (then) Cardinal Ratzinger