Grappling with Reality

Like all the rest of us, I want to believe that we can and eventually will know the fullness of reality. I desire to really know things! So what if that proves or disproves my belief in the Risen Christ?

My stance, I know, contradicts in one direction and is seen as conflictual in the other. My faith in Christ, I know, has no deductive proof. The chance that there is something out there which is god, as my best friends, who are Evangelical Atheists, say is too small to be even taken in faith. Yet, I see both sides deeply conflicted with their own positions.

I see my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ as deeply conflicted as I see my friends who see the religious as grossly repressive. My view rests on a simple issue. How are any of us to go about assuredly distinguishing between inductive and deductive established stances?

Almost to a person, my fellow believers in the crucified Christ, will nearly yell that they have no conflict with Him in whom each trusts. If that were true, why then do they argue among themselves about whose faith is properly structured?

I may, very well, get a perplexed look from my equally faith structured friends who call themselves atheists. On what does each of them rest their point? It is built on a deeply inductive stance that as we come to finally see the whole of reality such will demonstrate that the ideas of religion will be excluded.

On what does their position rest? First, it rests on a shared belief that the spiritual is incongruent with reality. Of itself such a stance rests a belief that there can be no relationship between the two. I take the stance that the lack of relationship between the two rests on the incompleteness of our current knowledge base.

Second, which rides on the first point, in time people will see the fullness of reality. It is this point of which I am deeply critical. How am I to deductively know that the human is truly capable of taking in the whole of reality? Taking the stance that reality is congruent does not serve as proof that we will finally see the whole thing. What isn’t addressed is whether the human both within what we are evolving into and have yet to accomplish is capable of absorbing the whole.

Such is an inductive stance. I’m yet unaware of any means for deductively establishing any of these positions. Do we know that what we have yet to discover will fit within the framings we’ve accomplished so far? Do we know that humanity is truly capable of grasping the whole of what is real?


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General, philosophy, Science, theology


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  1. I appreciate this post. It reminds me of a certain mode I get in when the wheels of my mind turn long on the world views of those I know and love.

    There is, perhaps, one thing deductive that I can suggest. The experience of the life in Christ, is the experience of the light which He is to the world. While our abstract concepts about God are possible fantasies (even religious folks may worship that which is not really God even though they call it by that name).

    Instead, deduction can offer the patient gathering of repetitious experience. Perhaps repetitious is not the right word, but the consistent and regular immanence of Christ in the life of a believer is a sort of life long master class in deduction.

    What we “know” about God is what we “have known” by experiencing His presence. All other knowledge is possibly delusion. The atheist is correct in his negative conclusions from the data he has. The problem is not his logic, but the faulty data. He is unaware of the presence of Christ in his life. It is this awareness (not logic, or apologia) that we are called to cultivate by being living sacrifices, ‘eikons’ or ‘little Christs’.

    St Seraphim said, “Acquire the Holy Spirit and a thousand around you will be saved.” This is precisely because such a person witnesses to the world in a way no amount of reason can. That person reveals what has always been true.

    … everywhere present and fillest all things.

    • David Felker 01/29/2010 — 6:13 pm

      Thanks for the reply!

      Now, you get to experience something else about me. Our experiences of the Risen Christ, which I am not debating, are ours, alone. Therefore, we have no means to universally establish the validity of our point. So then, if that other person, be he atheist, pantheist, Buddhist, etc., can not validate our point by their own experience how is it possible within a full reductionist approach to universalize our point?

      What you voiced is properly focused on our shared experiences, exclusively among ourselves. It is then, invalid! Not untrue, but not provable from within our current framings of reality.

      Comments and thoughts only after you’ve recovered from the Pepperdine Paperwork Panic.

      • In fact, I think that was where I was headed at the end of my post. The atheist does experience Christ, existentially, but is unaware. Like someone untrained in music, they might like or dislike the piece they hear, but they do not understand what it is they are experiencing.

        Our lives, lived in synergy with God (I believe particularly the act of Thanksgiving to the Father, but that alone could have whole essays), is a means by which they can come to understand what they already know.

        What do they call the newly baptised? The newly illumined. Enlightened. This enlightenment is the awareness of the believer in Christ, but is also a testimony to that same light.

        You say our experience of Christ is invalid, but I’m trying to have you see that Christ has given you the ministry of reconciliation. Your life exhibits Christ, and the atheist experiences that exhibition and is likewise (though still to a lesser measure) illumined.

        I did not convert because of the perfection of theological or historical dissertations. I converted to be one with Christ as I perceived His manifestation (I did existentially perceive Christ) in the Orthodox persons I met. First online, but also I met the great Cappadocians and desert fathers through their writings. I met “little Christs” in blogs and when I visited monasteries.

        I think you’re missing the power of the necessary indwelling of Christ in you, that is the hope of atheists!

      • What you said in the first paragraph is much in line with my whole comment! We approached the same issue from different directions, though.

        Are you aware of Karl Poppers’ work “The Logic of Scientific Discovery”? His critique, from a fundamental non-spiritual perspective, broaches the issue. He adeptly told the community of scientists that they basically violate the true intent of reductionism. Few empiricists, even to this day, truly strive to disprove themselves via their research. By building the null hypothesis so that the popular idea is supported the whole of reductionism is violated.

        However, I accuse my fellow believers, mostly western, across all of our history of the same problem from the other direction. Too many of us have fabricated a discontinuity between our conceptions of reality and the One who created all of it. Breaking the basic Aristotelian and Augustinian fashionings of knowing the two away from one another is meant to protect ourselves. Disjointedness is our fault and not God’s. Physical reality and its’ Creator are in concert, but the concert does not need to fit into our grossly incomplete conceptions of the whole.

        Eastern Orthodox perspectives go a good distance further in joining the two together. Our refusing to explain theologies as westerns demand is an acceptance that we cannot join them. It is not because we see them as absolutely discontinuous but because we accept not being able see the whole picture.

      • I must say, the idea of threaded comments seems like a good idea, but in practice something weird happened and my replies got all mis-mangled. I’m not sure I can even follow what order they were supposed to be. šŸ™‚ Sorry about that.

      • David Felker 01/31/2010 — 9:07 pm

        Fortunately, for me I get to see them all with dates and times directly on them. So, shall I stick my tongue out at your or cry with you?

      • Me and all my silly English k-nig-its?

    • David Felker 01/31/2010 — 4:02 pm

      How in heaven’s name did you learn to read my mind? I’m only kind of joking. What we’ve voiced, differently, are precisely what drew me into Eastern Orthodoxy. My thoughts, even while in a bible college, thinking of becoming a pastor, betrayed a serious discontinuity between me and them. I saw humanity as not yet able to grasp the whole picture but decided to keep at the effort.

      Going into clinical social work exposed me to the same problem from a drastically different direction. Discovering that same refusal to see the discontinuity between our faithful inductive applications of fragments of truth pushed me over the edge.

      It was about a 5 year recovery before I began remembering and pushing further my readings outside of the western church. Far East framings intrigued me, but it was Eastern Orthodoxy presenting the Trinity with acceptance of our inability to grasp the whole that drew me under.

      By the early 90’s I resurfaced having moved into ECUSA still dissatisfied. Within those walls I kept at reading John Climacus, the Cappadocians, Gregory Palamas, etc… My now ex-wife tried it out with me but could not do such. So I stayed where she wanted to be with the kids. Only after she began the divorce back into 2001 did I take the full step.

  2. One of the results of apophatic theology, isn’t the negation itself, but the position it forces the mind into in receiving God without attempting to define God.

    It is necessary (in not so different a way as a proper scientist filled with thoughts of reductive engineering) to not hold to anything we think we understand about God each time we come to the altar. In fact, the fathers universally talk about rejecting visions without considerable guidance on the matter. They are, nearly all of them, delusions.

    It is the delusion of our prejudices that we are trying to undo and open the eye of the heart to the Living God.

    But I stick to my conviction. God isn’t not so much believed in (intellectually accepted) as know (existentially experienced). Scholasticism is a dead end road IMNHO (in my never humble opinion).

  3. We sing a common refrain that I have heard on the internet repeated often. To me (and though this upsets even a good number of Orthodox who do not understand exactly what I mean) Orthodox will always be both existential and nominalist.

    Unfortunately nominalism has been given a bad name by scholastics who set up a facsimile as a straw man in the middle ages. And the only existentialism most Christians understand is tainted with deism at best and pantheism at worst.

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