Thursday 24 September 2020

You Are What You Think

Sometimes I discuss spiritual matters with non-believers, and sometimes with ardent non-believers who do not just dismiss religion and spirituality but see them as positively pernicious, the product of superstition and ignorance. Often on these latter occasions I end up being accused of ad hominem arguments in which I supposedly play the man not the ball. I have to concede this is very probably true but that is because of my sense when I speak to a person like this that they believe what they believe, or refuse to believe what they want not to believe, because of the sort of person they are.

The root of faith is in the will not the mind. There is plenty of evidence for God in scripture, nature, the human mind and life itself, but there is no overwhelming intellectual evidence nor meant to be since that would remove the essential role of free will in the matter. This means whether we believe or not depends on the sort of person we are, on a natural tending towards God or one away from him. God is truth and love so this means that whether we believe or not is ultimately down to whether we respond to, value and treasure truth and love, particularly whether we do so above ourselves  Doubt is permitted, that is a normal part of the human experience, but outright rejection is not. And even doubt should not be a permanent or dominant state.

I will not go so far as to say that good people believe in God and bad people do not but, in spiritual terms, there is certainly an element of truth in this. If you accept God that means your heart is open to the spiritual heart of the universe, and this essentially is goodness. If you reject God that means your heart is closed and that essentially is evil. You may be a moral and virtuous person in your everyday dealings with other people, but that means very little if you refuse to acknowledge your Creator. It implies there is an egotism and a self-will within you that denies and rejects the source of all truth and beauty and goodness. In this sense, you are what you think.

Critics of this point of view will point to the many people who claim they believe in God but behave badly. I would say two things to this. Firstly, we are all sinners and fail many times. What counts is whether we repent our failures and sincerely try again. Secondly, there are, of course, many hypocrites and self-deceivers who use God for their own ends. These people clearly do not believe in God. If you believe in God, you love him and keep his commandments or, at least, try to keep them. There is belief of the head and belief of the heart. I am talking about the latter here which is the only one that counts.


BSRK Aditya said...

I strongly recommend becoming receptive to the heaviness of solids. Your misguided fights with the materialists will come to an end.

William Wildblood said...

If you mean you cannot convince the unconvinceable and should not even try, I agree. I don't normally do this but sometimes I get attacked for my beliefs and then feel some kind of obligation to defend them.

edwin faust said...

"The root of faith is in the will not the mind." - I recently quoted the atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel in a comment on one of your posts. He admits that he fears there may be a God and that he does not want there to be a God. Rather than elaborate on his reasons, he says that he simply does not "want the world to be that way." What way? Purposeful? Authored by an intelligence according to a design? Why would one prefer that our existence be accidental and ultimately meaningless? Is our desire to be morally unaccountable so great that nihilism is for some preferable to a life that has lasting significance and undying beauty? Perhaps the argument ad hominem is not always a logical fallacy.

Moonsphere said...

Yes, William - you have focussed in on an important truth.

We are all allowed our rebellious youth but to encounter atheism in a mature person I do find particularly jarring. It speaks of a deadening of the soul, a failed mission - a willful transgression.

Any goodness that such an atheist still radiates is the burning of the fossil fuel laid down in a previous lifetime as a believer.

BSRK Aditya said...

Would you agree that not all theists get the same kind of reward in the afterlife? In a similar way, not all materialists are equal in their afterlife rewards.

A materialist who developed receptivity to the heaviness of solids would go to a similar kind of place that you yourself would go to.

Because it is a similar kind of place, you will have an easy time picking up this meditation, if you are willing to just try.

There are these states of matter: solids, liquids, gases. With fire as a transitional.
There is this meditation: receptivity to the heaviness of solids.

If you cannot do this, is it fair to ask a materialist to become receptive to God?

William Wildblood said...

edwin, you say " Perhaps the argument ad hominem is not always a logical fallacy'. Yes, that is jus what I think. Our beliefs really can reflect our souls, whether these are opening towards God or desiccated and self-absorbed.

Moonsphere, " a failed mission". That is exactly what it is! Great observation.

BSRK, you seem to be complicating something that is essentially simple.

Adil said...

The modern way is to look "down" upon history, just like the humanist secretly looks down upon Africa and wants to "educate" it. There is no need to engage with religion since it's just a historical relic. The modern mind has projected itself upon the ancients whereas they themselves never "believed" in any superhero gods.

Such a view is inevitable if you believe that we rose from the apes whereas spiritual tradition says we descended from paradise. The people you describe just haven't done the work necessary to even begin understanding the spiritual world. No different than myself being unable to understand physics. What matters is that us spiritual people can talk to each other.

There is definitely an intellectual arrogance going on with the modern mind, incapable of dealing with history other than as a museum piece. An ad hominem argument would be an attack on someone's 'personage', but personhood indeed goes deeper. Modernity has built an iron cage around reality so that this sterile 3D space is supposedly all that is. This is why I believe the spiritual world is boiling up from beneath, a dangerous state of affairs.

Covid-19 is a humongous technocratic manouvre to counter any spiritual comeback. I believe the demons are heading for the technological singularity (a point of no return), which is the hidden goal of the drama. The sickness of the situation is the collective hypochondria, not the flu. Humanity is literally detached from the natural world.

The church has been unable to offer any remedy. As you say, a lot of people pay lip service to God but don't believe with their hearts. You can often tell when people trivialize his name, and use his name for human and/or social ends. Such a faith is that of the 'personage', not a natural one. Unfortunately modernity has created a deadly rift between the esoteric and the exoteric, so that religion lacks the heart whereas the spiritual enthusiasts lack the logos. This is a spiritual catch-22 in which believers function as materialists and spiritual seekers never find God. It's an ironic situation since religious fideists are blind to the spiritual world whereas the spiritual exhibitionists perceive everything but God.

William Wildblood said...

You put it very well, Eric. Particularly at the end where your last 3 sentences hit the nail right on the head.

Adil said...

Thanks William, your writing is always very stimulating. I think you're doing very important spiritual work and I'm always happy to contribute.