Friday, June 15, 2007

Two Things

Two things about yesterday's post. First, I ought never to say "more about this later" and certainly never "more tomorrow." I'm not sure I'm ready to deliver! And, second, when I re-read the post last night, I could see that I probably hadn't explained anything, certainly not made it simpler. In fact, freedom may not be what I originally identified as the "seminal contradiction"; I think I got to freedom from something else. But I haven't gone back to read the thread of my own thought. Also, to explain this would require me to go over Russell's demonstration that the existence of a contradiction in a logical system enables you to prove anything whatsoever. And I would need to demonstrate that the principle can be extended to metaphysics—something I don't think Russell ever claimed. Let's set this aside for now.

And let me try now (late in the evening as I try to revise today's post) to deliver the "more" about my new way of interpreting writing about "God." I have the sense, as I start to read self-proclaimed atheist Hitchens, that I can confidently distinguish between his supportable criticisms of various religious practices and his unsupportable overall conclusion (obviously false) that "religion poisons everything" (from the subtitle of his book). I even wonder whether he really believes that, or is trying to sell more books. While I think it is undeniable that adherents of probably every religion, while thinking they acted at the religion's behest, have committed crimes against humanity, I no longer think that that justifies the conclusion that "faith must end" (to paraphrase Sam Harris's title), that religion is no good, or that God, therefore, does not exist.

It seemed to me yesterday that I got to this "new way of interpreting" from the fact that the point of view (POV) of every "God book" author is limited (including the authors of books of scripture, if I am right about their being the works of humans—see below for a late-breaking epiphany). Each author's POV is limited precisely because of the principle that "all things are possible" and they have necessarily taken a particular POV in writing their book. Readers have more freedom; they can always step back to gain a larger POV from which to see possibilities beyond those the author considered. (You're probably already looking beyond me, in fact...aren't you?) To take that larger POV, "all" we have to do is to "pretend to be God," so to speak. (I know, I know, we can't take God's POV, but we can move in that direction, the same as we can move in the direction of loving our enemies, even though we may not be able fully to imitate Jesus Christ's example.)

Ha! [The epiphany:] writing the last third of that paragraph suggested a sort of proof that the various scriptures cannot be "The Word of God." Just read them. Their POVs are extremely limited. If "God" wrote them, "he" was either fooling mankind or parodying "himself" (or doing something else, anyway, besides really telling us what's what).

This brief statement of my "new way of interpreting books about 'God'" is somewhat provisional. But everything I write is provisional—a work in progress on the road to discovery. I don't seem destined to any "final discovery," except in the sense that it will be the last thing I discover before I die.

Maybe I'm not the only one for whom this is true.

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