Wednesday, July 9, 2008

While observing some of the more “sophisticated” debates between the moderate religious sector and the “new atheists” I’ve often wondered if all that the moderate religious leaders are arguing for is religion as poetry or do they still believe these “sophisticated” beliefs the same way that the religious right believes that the universe is 6-10 thousand years old.

Every now and again I get into discussions with PoMo believers, particularly with evanstonjew and more recently chardal. They tend to be very intelligent, very polite and understanding, though not without spice. Yet almost without exception, we end the conversation talking past each other. We come to an impasse, and from my POV they are essentially speaking another language. But this isn’t another language with which I could learn to communicate or at least so it seems. Oh no, for every time I try, and Lord knows I try, all I hear is Charlie Brown’s teacher. Their language is so abstract to my ears as to become completely meaningless. I find it ironic that Postmodernism talks so much about meaninglessness, abstract language, and irony.

From where I stand, here on planet earth in the year 2008, there is the real world that we can discover and understand using the scientific method and healthy skepticism and then there is how we humans interpret that information into our subjective existences, through music, language, culture and the arts in general. I feel that we should each choose, as it were, to interpret them in a subjectively meaningful way. While I feel free to look at the universe in a romantic sort of way, I realize that things are only that way when I have my glasses on, that my rosy painting is but an illusion and I am quite comfortable with it. However, never do I wish to forget about the indifferent objective reality of the universe and existence in general. My subjective interpretations of the universe and existence may not be meaningful for most other people, otherwise I'd try to market them and make some cash on my ideas. As a skeptic, I try to keep a one way street from objective to subjective. I derive inspiration and awe from the advancements that we are making in our understanding of the universe and human nature but I try keep my beliefs about objective reality free from bias and subjective interpretation.

I am highly optimistic and idealistic, so when I hear a pomo thinker say that life is absurd, I think they are absurd. What are they thinking? What planet do they live on? Life is so freaking awesome that I can’t think about it too much, for fear that my heart will explode in sheer delight. In the immortal words of the Psalmist [adapted by yours truly]

When I consider the universe,
The moon and the stars,
What is man that he was privileged to be mindful of it,
And the son of man that he should care about it?
Yet he has become a little lower than the gods,
He crowns himself with knowledge and wisdom!

With the advances of science, and by science I mean the entire enterprise of human reason and advancement, we have bought ourselves the time to contemplate the vast universe in both scientific and poetic ways, to contemplate the meaning of life, what we feel our purpose is, how to fulfill it, and how to make this world a better place. We no longer have to scratch in the dirt, filling our futile existence with mere survival. We can live longer, healthier and more fulfilled lives. If only our ancestors could see us now. No longer do we have to speculate about the dragons in the dark and shadowy corners of our existence. Gone are the days when we were controlled by our superstitions.

Now don't get me wrong. Though I revel in our progress and experience bliss at every falsehood slain, it is the mystery that is yet to be discovered, that flaming curiosity that engulfs our very being that can afford us perhaps even more pleasure then the satisfaction knowledge so lovingly bestows. The joy is in the journey as they say.