Monday, December 17, 2007

Tell Me Again What You Think

God either exists or doesn’t exist. There is no median possibility. God, however one might conceptualize such an entity, is either truth or fiction. Conviction in either direction is some combination of faith, conjecture, logic, socialization—and ultimately free will—but there are only two directions to go: yay or nay. That’s why the God issue is so simple, and why long, agonizing theological conversations completely escape me: there are but two possible realities, and neither can be proved. Arguing about whether or not God exists is like a 35-year-old arguing over whether he’ll live to see 90. There are only two possible outcomes, and both are speculative. It’s a profoundly idiotic thing to argue about, and I wish people would stop doing it.

I have no problem with theological discourse. I have no problem with abstract posturing. I have no problem with wanting to pursue universal and cosmic truths. But I have a problem with people who impose their God know-it-allness on others, who masquerade their spiritual guesswork as inarguable fact.

I met one such girl at a group dinner at my college. A bunch of us spilled outside after the meal, only to be met by the girl (whose name I forget, and most probably never knew) who was all-too-eager to tell us the deal. God exists, she said. She knows He does. He DOES. No, she can’t prove it, and, moreover, she only came to that conclusion after deciding, a few weeks earlier, to start Believing. It was beyond her to realize that you can’t decide on objective reality; in essence, the very idea of her trying to convince us of her truth is proof enough that her efforts were futile from the outset. If something is obviously true—say, that the sun rises every morning—you don’t have to accost people in the street to convince them. They just know. If something is not true—say, that the sun exploded 1,000 years ago and hasn’t existed since—people will simply know you’re wrong. In both cases, people don’t need to be told in order to know.

Anything else, then, exists in ambiguity. So, the second one finds oneself arguing for the obviousness of something, it’s clear that the thing in question isn’t so obvious. It’s also clear, then, that people can’t simply be convinced. People need charming, charismatic idea salesmen in order to buy into sub-obvious concepts. Eons of credulity have been assigned prophets—purportedly real and fake—because there was a particularly beckoning flair to their soapbox. They didn’t yell so much as they coaxed, and their coaxing always led the audience up to the precipice of the incredible, and then offered an ultimatum in the form of an option: benefit or suffer. Of course, the subtext was “be saved/repent or die,” and that’s exactly the point—if cloaked in attractive semantics, the most unbelievable, threatening, and too-large-to-fathom ideas become embraceable.

To be embraceable, and to be embraced; to have our ideas accepted as facts, to be revered as purveyors of wisdom. That's what we all want, and the girl outside the cafeteria wanted it bad. She could have had it if she'd have curbed the close-talking theological aggression and offered a rhetoric more cozy, lazy, and yielding. Something like, “God loves you, just do what you can to reciprocate, but anything is fine,” and I would have told her how right she was, that I wished more people would get hip to the enlightenment.

As it is, with that statement wrapped back up in the ether of my wishes, I will continue to suffer the philosophy bullies. Maybe they go away after college.

Stay Self-Satisfied, After-Dinner Theology Girl
DJ Dithering


Breathing said...


as always you inspire.
also, ive even written a poem once, where i used the metaphor of spilling outside after a concert.

we were both zocheh.



i like your ideas. but i think theyre based on faulty assumptions. namely that Gd does or does not exist, being a mutually exclusive equation, as if it was 1plus1. yes or no.

i didnt think you were joking in this part of the piece, but if you were, i tend to take everything, usually, more seriously than intended. im romantic like that. victorian too.


anyway, what alerted me to the fault in your, admirable, yet christianized? westernized? logic, (i mean NO harm, and you know that) was this line,

God, however one might conceptualize such an entity, is either truth or fiction.

jo-L, as a writer, as a liver of life, as a human being, do you really believe that? Do you think that god is just an answer OR a tale? Is a human being, is anything that LIVES? Now you may say that He is beyond us, he inhabits a reality in which truth is prime, where imagination, alterity, otherness, is none. You may be maimonedean (I believe this is what he'd say) And you may be right. But Gd, is Gd, not because of Anochi alone. Gd is Gd because of Breishit long before Shemot. He is Gd of Abraham Isaac Jacob, not Moshe. We dont pray to the Gd of Truth, we beckon the Holy One, a Gd of Possibility.

I believe this for many reasons. Mainly because my belief in Gd is predicated on one of two modes in which we can understand such a being. Torah or Tefillah. Mine lies in Tefillah. Expansive, rather than delineative. Life, not logos. Truthfully they are one. There is being, and there is becoming, both are important, crucial to what it means to be alive. But to say Gd IS, and forget that he ISNT in some way as well, that he is, it may be heretical to say, also not in a state of becoming, that he lacks the possibility to dream, and create, and believe in himself, I think that may be the greatest heresy.

We are human not because of what we know, but because of what we don't know. We revolve around worlds of fiction, conjecture, belief, and that's what makes life special for us. Truth is generative, not definitive.

Whoa, I hope this made any sense, I dont know if i explained it well enough.

You know Kedusha, the kadoshkadoshkadosh dilly in Shemoneh Esreh?

You know what that is?
Its a conversation. Between the angels.

Look at the words. They're arguing, about where Gd is. One says Kadosh, the other says Baruch. Go check out what theyre saying, look at the language.

ill give you a hint, its in the last word in the 2-sentence dialogue.

Much love, this was sointense,
I will not be in Israel, sadly, but hopefully will find myself alive in some other way.

Good luck on finals.

much love

Anonymous said...

Have you read the Kuari by Judah Halavei. He criticizes philosophy and values revelation over contemplation.

He does present a proof for God however, have you read it ? It deals with comparative religion, mass revelation and the chain of tradition or Mesorah. Rabbi Kellamn also discuses this proof in his book Permission to receive.