I think that this answer can also be divided, similarly to words/concepts, into the practical (literal) and the philosophical.
The response will contradict itself.
The practical answer is that truth is unavoidable. As living beings, we are endowed with discernible properties that allow us to make decisions and act upon these decisions. Oftentimes the acting is mere reflex, played out in a particularly disconcerting chain of events that we mistake for thought, but truly a roundabout and frankly silly way to rationalize our hungers and irrational desires.
Now, if we exist, or effectively exist, we do so within a force or combination of forces that amalgamate into what we could roughly call reality. Reality is a mutable essence, tough to pin down. It is at times deceptive, even perhaps largely illusory. Overestimation of our capacity to perceive and misguided logical consequences – subsequently drawn – encourage this illusion.
That last thought gave me a revelation that ties into Buddha’s teachings:
While sitting outside underneath the pear tree I amused myself thinking about how strange it was that existence should appear in two forms, observed phenomena and the ego, the observer itself. At that time I understood what has been said all along, the distinction is illusory. I realized, it is not merely that you are taking part in existence…
You are existence. All that you sense or imagine, you are.
To survive, to track down and prepare food, we employ certain inherent and instinctive truths (we have a body, we have tools, we have language). In our civilization we can see these truths used in a similar fashion although in a much more perverse sort of “survival”, in my opinion.
As Gandhi said, absolute truth is not really attainable, but by seeking relative truth, we can reach absolute truth. Or at least come to a satisfactory understanding of truth, which per our natures must be possible. I get the notion of a “satisfactory understanding” from Spinoza, who seemed to understand better than anyone that our knowledge is effectively a zero value.
This leads to the philosophical case for seeking truth. Absolute truth lies in infinity, in eternity. If we cannot understand eternity and the humble, beautiful relationship between ourselves all that is, we can never hope to have a “satisfactory understanding” of our natures. As Spinoza rendered – this blends with the notion of satori which I will introduce shortly – all things can only be properly understood through the lens of an a priori all-pervading God.
Infinity/eternity/existence cannot be reasoned away, and even if they are, they still must be confronted.
Mere understanding does not suffice. Reality continuously shifts, dancing a devilish twist of infinity. Truth must be constantly sought, by every individual, by all that exists. Whether a song bird building a nest, or a particle seeking another, truth will be obeyed and sought. Seeking = active philosophy = religion.
-Similarly, what is the point of defining/seeking a god, God, Gods, etc., when knowledge of such is not possible?
Knowledge of eternity is not possible, and therefore seeking a god or attempting to define one will always fail. Words cannot hope to contain God. Seeking through actions, thanks to their extension within space-time, seems a much better pursuit.
The problem is not that of eternity but that of knowledge. Once one tries to know God they are already mistaken. God can be comprehended, explained, likened, compared, but not known. Nothing can be truly known.
By releasing the self, our concepts, our material attachments, we can reach a state of calm. Our base emotions such as fear and jealousy conquered, we can proceed from an enlightened standpoint that compliments our eternal being. “Problems” such as war and violence could cease to be, if we celebrate infinite substance and escape suffering.
This also suggests a revolution that demands an environment where the unhurried mind can cultivate itself.
-When using the word God, how do you expect to get out of the Giant Floating Daddy Figure?
I suspect many people will not be able to see past this, on both sides. It is comforting for reasons already touched on.
Realistically I hope to convince at least a few of a plausible and non-offensive alternative – a comprehension that many of the canonized theologists and philosophers also came to, and also to encourage a more level-headed and good-faith dialog.
It is also audacious for the opposite reasons, a bit of shock value I suppose.
It is also symbolic of compromise, an attempt to reconcile and move forward, and finally an optimistic and active approach instead of a pessimistic and passive observance.
I would hope to get across the notion that bickering about God is kind of like trying to decide if we want to wear a red shirt in the morning…
Or a blue one…
It really doesn’t change much of anything.
That said in many arenas GFDF fanatics are best left alone; their children are the real prize.
Additionally, the idea of “holy” action or thought is a fundamentally good one. A holy pilgrimage is one that takes precedence over all other actions. Therefore, the seeking of God is rightfully considered a holy pursuit, often abused, but one that I feel is cut off from atheists, somewhat unwittingly. Disavowing Dogma and tradition is frequently necessary, but so is piousness and sagacity. These can be reconciled. Evil actions, even and especially unintentional ones, can be fought openly as an affront to the living feeling soul.
– The main thing I see as an “advantage” of atheism, is that has no scripture. Do you think there would/could/should be such an equivalent? Is scripture necessary?
No way! One thing that atheism really has to offer is the view that scripture could never contain the word of God, designed by humans that can’t even outlive many species of trees and tortoise. Not to mention the temptation to manipulate. The new scripture is the human chronology, our knowledge contained in culture and archived in libraries. Our united search for relative truth leads us closer to absolute truth.
Spinoza was an excommunicated and somewhat persecuted even in freethinking Amsterdam, merely for suggesting the above.
Also, our cognition and consciousness have evolved for millions of years. Language has a lot of catching up to do, and to best make use of the “truth” our situation, the “truth” of our inner machinery, thinking is best done in a personal and wordless manner.
– Do you think the word God should be capitalized?
I think it really doesn’t matter. I just do it because I think if one understood “God” the way I do it would be at least as worthwhile to capitalize as “I”
– If you couldn’t use the word God, what word would you use?
My next post, a quote, will address this directly.