Sunday, January 4, 2015

Is There A Spiritual Path To Reason?

It's been my experience that faith rooted in cautious optimism and doubt is less likely to devolve into dogmatism. All of us believe something: especially those trapped in nihilism who profess not to believe anything. The amount of certainty one places in their worldview, coupled with an inability to accept or even process information contrary to that worldview, leads directly to a solipsistic position that makes civil discussions about religion almost impossible. The inability to consider ideas that don't originate from people who share your worldview is symptomatic of deep dogmatism.

I often hear Christians say we need a national religious awakening. This position assumes that all of our problems could be solved with a rededication to spirituality. I've been chastised for pointing out that we (as a nation) have never lived the religious fantasy many Christians are hungry for. It's more reasonable to hope or pray for a unified commitment to critical thinking and civility. If the Christian narrative of original sin is true, then believers who are calling for this Christian renaissance should know it's doomed to fail. Greed, avarice and hostility are built into our DNA.

We have religious, political and media organizations that are invested in systematically misinforming people. The university, scholarship and intellectualism have become sacrificial lambs at the shrines of religious and political ideologies. I write this as a religious person who is actively engaged in theological studies. Is there a way to balance metaphysical faith with scientific reason? I don't know if there's a yellow brick road everyone is capable of following. Any believer attempting to walk such a path should ask themselves what am I willing to give up?

If there's a spiritual path to reason it has to be built on humility. Faith and reason don't have to be part of any positive or negative synthesis. They can be independent postulates that function together. Religious faith doesn't equate to moral superiority, and a belief in scientific theory doesn't equate to intellectual superiority. It's possible to walk and chew gum at the same time, but too few are willing to risk biting their tongue.