Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Worship the Unknown?

Today, Gagdad Bob wrote: "many people believe that you must first somehow decide whether or not God exists before joining a religion, but the opposite is true. One becomes religious so as to make God present in one’s life."

I replied with the following:

Might this be a little like worshipping Zeus or Allah before "deciding" whether he exists "so as to make Zeus, Allah, or some other false, mythical god present in one's life"? And given the human capacity for self-deception, if one worships a false god long enough and with enough desire to believe, isn't one likely to come to "know" that this god exists?

Of course, the other side of this epistemological quandary is that if one tries to know that a god exists from, as you say, the "outside," one may never know at all. This is why I have always thought that a real god would make his existence so obvious even to someone on the "outside" that he would be far more inclined to spend the rest of his life trying to know him as fully as possible from the inside through devoted worship.

This is how Gagdad, under the guise of "Cousin Dupree," answered:

"Nags, you raise questions that can only be asked and not answered by entering your invincible density, which no one here is inclined to do. "

Does anyone have a more substantive reply to the dilemma of which I wrote, or am I just being invincibly dense?


copithorne said...

I'll propose one resolution to this dilemma as Kierkegaard's formulation that truth is subjectivity.

Gagdad's proposal contains a kernel of truth that religion is fundamentally the development of subjectivity. Religion is about the intention and quality of faith, not the content of belief.

You counter with a supportive statement clarifying that if gagdad's statement is interpreted objectively it is incoherent.

Within Theism, gagdad doesn't have the vocabulary to answer your challenge and has to wave at with meaningless insults.

Nagarjuna said...


"Kierkegaard's formulation that truth is subjectivity"

What does this mean?

"religion is fundamentally the development of subjectivity. Religion is about the intention and quality of faith, not the content of belief."

I guess I have great difficulty accepting that even the best religion doesn't need to correspond to facts outside the "content of belief." To me, a religion that worships, say, the tooth fairy or Zeus is inferior to one that worships a real "which than which there is no whicher," even if it makes someone just as happy or more happy to to do it.

But then the question is, How do we know that a religion corresponds to fact?