If Atheists are Correct, Only God Knows
For example, a commenter named John recently criticized the B'ob for "taking what he likes from [Schuon] and rejecting the rest," arguing that "with some authors, Schuon being chief among them, the smorgasbord method is a priori disqualified."
He didn't explain why this is so, but in my experience, it is indeed tempting to place him above criticism, because he writes with such intrinsic authority. By which I mean that he doesn't have to appeal to anyone or anything to make his case. Rather, he writes in such a way that he bangs my interior gong in a direct and unmediated way. It is very much as if the proof is in the writing, more on which as we proceed.
Religion is a field in which it is notoriously easy to pose as a false authority, or to write with a certitude that isn't difficult to see through and pick apart. This kind of childish authority is not at all similar to Schuon. Such rhetoric doesn't convince like a perfectly forged key fitting into a lock, but rather, is more like a blunt instrument, or wet blanket, or cloud of verbal smoke. At the same time, it is fragile, like those religious solicitors who are trained to ignore all objections and stay rigorously on script. Belief for them is indeed a matter of will, not intellect.
Which is fine for some people. There's even a word for it: voluntarism. Which is perfectly respectable, within limits. After all, not everyone is cut out for intellection -- i.e., vertical cogitation and recollection -- and God has no desire to exclude them from the festivus.
We have much more in common with a simple fideist who believes (and loves) the truth with all his heart, than with some self-styled intellectual who believes falsehood with all his mind. Note that this is what the journalistic inquisitors are after vis-a-vis Scott Walker: do you believe in the god of matter with all your heart, mind, and strength?
"The content of religions and their reason for being is the relationship between God and man; between Necessary Being and contingent existence" (Schuon). Is that not refreshingly straightforward? Not blunt, mind you, but sharp. Truly truly I say to you, he slices like an effing hammer.
See, you can't joke around with Schuon, either. That last little comment makes me a vulgarian of the first rank.
Nevertheless. Let's continue.
For Schuon there is an orthoparadox at the very heart of religion, being that only religion-as-such can be absolute. It is only conformity to this "that gives [to particular] religions all their power and all their legitimacy," and yet, "it is their confessional claim to absoluteness that constitutes their relativity." In other words, for Schuon, such-and-such a religion can only be an outward mode of the inward principle.
Here again this is an appealing idea, because it can easily be deployed against atheists and other idiots who are more literal than the most literal believer, not in the service of faith, but rather, in order to justify rejecting the whole thing out of hand. Over the years we've had many trolls -- old William Femboy Catsnuggler comes to mind -- who know how to use the google machine to find this or that scriptural passage that makes no sense if taken literally and out of context.
Of note, one could do the same with science, for example, How can you say there was a big BANG, when sound waves would have been impossible? Or, how can RNA read DNA when it's so dark in there?
For Schuon, metaphysics is prior even to revelation, so, to the extent that revelation harbors and conveys truth, it is because it is in conformity to Truth as such.
I would rate this as mostly true, allowing for some things we could not possibly know with certainty outside a positive revelation from God -- for example, God as personhood, Trinity, love, and relation. Indeed, I think it is fair to say that Schuon would regard God as ultimately one and impersonal. He certainly allows for the personal God, but places him below the impersonal.
In contrast, I place them side-by-side, in that they are complementary, not hierarchical.
But in any event, irrespective of whether the absolute is personal or impersonal, metaphysics can easily knock down any secular argument, and indeed, the idea of an impersonal absolute will probably be more persuasive to the average flatlander. This is why westerners flock to Buddhism and yoga, because they reject the idea of God as an "old guy with a white beard." Note again how their childish literalism interferes with vertical perception.
So, "different types of religious imagery inevitably provoke doubts and protests in the absence of a sapiential esoterism" which can "bridge the gaps and bring the accidental dissonances back to the harmony of the substance" (ibid.).
In other words, we can integrate the dissonances with our intellect (AKA nous). We don't have to force the issue with the will, which just alienates the typical secularist who is so proud of his intelligence (even while holding to a Darwinism that utterly devalues it).
Ironically, "the reactions of the unbeliever and the esoterist may coincide," except that for the latter, this is the beginning of the journey, not the end. Thus, "the man who rejects religion because, when taken literally, it sometimes seems absurd," essentially blinds himself to the deeper truths that would speak to him directly -- i.e., bang the interior gong referenced in paragraph #3 above.
Out of time. To be continued....