Many might be uncomfortable with my sudden venture into the supernatural. That’s understandable, this is a philosophy blog. Not a religious one.
But you know what? I don’t care.
I enjoy solving problems that I created in my own head.
I wouldn’t say that I’ve suddenly had a ‘divine revelation’. I am an empiricist after all, or at least to some degree. But I like to push the boundaries of knowledge. There is a limit to our understanding, yet we don’t know where that boundary rests. So we have to define everything through our understanding, because that’s the only method at our disposal.
But we take it for granted. We assume that there is no limit. Human capacity for knowledge is seemingly infinite.
Now of course it would be ridiculous of me to assert that God rests at the end of that understanding. How could we assert that something’s there when we have no knowledge of it? But there’s a consistent pattern with theological (and possibly even scientific) thought that asserts everything sprouts out of a singularity.
This singularity is the origin of all things. And we can know certain things about it, but we can’t know it as intimately as we know this material world. And this origin or singularity is not a part of this world, but does manage (to varying degrees) the affairs of this world.
Not all faiths support this notion. Some assert that there is no ‘beginning’ or ‘end’. That reality is actually just one continuous flowing stream. Any ideas of a continuous or static existence is false notion, created by the mind and reinforced by other external agents. Therefore we have to re-constitute ourselves…see ourselves as just a part of this stream that flows forward in time.
Honestly, I’m more inclined to this philosophy over any other divine order that oversees the universe. However, there does appear to be a set of ‘laws’ that order physical reality. Our knowledge about them changes over time, but one thing is certain….because of these laws (physics, mathematics, etc), we are able to make predictions. To what degree these ‘laws’ are a part of mental construction or a fundamental part of independent reality…we can debate this for eternity. But either way, there is order.
Now again, it would be ridiculous to assert that this order is in fact GOD that has been revealed to us through ancient scripture. I can’t assert that any particular religious doctrine holds the final word on the nature of the universe. Furthermore, it would be difficult for me to uphold any dogma that posits God as being a vain Deity. Vanity is one of the more petty human traits that we seem to project onto an all-powerful Being. After all, if a human were all-powerful, wouldn’t that individual become vain? If such an Entity exists, it wouldn’t be human and would therefore be a presumption to assert that it has human qualities.
I have a primarily religious education. One teacher described his love of mathematics as being a reflection of God. “Like God, numbers never change.” So in addition to being all-powerful, God is also the Stone that anchors the universe. This limits the power of God because God can’t violate His (again, another human projection) own power. Thus, God doesn’t have Free Will.
This is troubling.
Because we see ourselves and the world around us as being static and unchanging, God too must exhibit the same qualities. I’ve discussed this Hegelian idea of the universe coming together to slowly understand itself. Strictly under this notion, history is the story of God and Universe coming together, finally culminating in absolute knowledge itself. This too is problematic, as it would assume that the totality is already set in stone…the stream is flowing in an absolute direction. Therefore freedom is still not possible.
But perhaps freedom is the wrong question. Or maybe freedom in the external world is the wrong question. The stream moves forward no matter our objections. The only real freedom that matters is to swim with or against the current….a current that will only continue to push forward.
Most of us swim against it. Choosing to instead see ourselves as a concrete being, living in a concrete world. We live our daily lives according to a pattern set before. The same name, the same set of eyes that we’ve always seen the world….