Sunday, December 02, 2012

Agnosticism - not for dummies




I was having a conversation with William Clark just now while watching Baraka and a number of things I've been thinking about lately all gelled at once.

So let me try to lay out the pieces.

I was talking earlier with another friend, Matthew Grossman, about the role of belief in our lives. Both of us agreed that belief is actually fairly inconsequential. It doesn't much matter what any of us believe. If someone thinks their beliefs are important, they're giving our thoughts too much value. I know plenty of people that change their beliefs and then think they have changed. But they are the same person from the outside. And when people change, it isn't as a result of belief that change comes about.

The next piece of this thought process -- many athiests and religious folk alike have attacked me or looked down on me for saying that if I have to be pushed into a corner on defining my relationship to the divine, it is as an agnostic. "The basis of that is a-gnosis - not knowing," they say. And that's quite right. But who wants to admit that they don't know?

Let me explain. The base religious experience is awe, even terror, or ecstacy (being beside or outside of ones self), and all of it is in the face of an infinity that is beyond measure and comprehension. It is precisely this a-gnosis, not knowing, that is the base of spirituality in a positive sense. This isn't exactly negative theology- that derives from an intellectualization that comes as a reaction or result of religious experience, as a way of defending the psyche from that yawning abyss against which we must profess complete ignorance. If you don't encase yourself in belief (which as I said is unimportant) or the pretension of knowledge about the existence or non-existence of your idea of divinity -- that is, the objective nature of things which transcends all categories of thought -- then you must profess your agnosticism.

Thus may also explain why I say I'm a Taoist when asked what I "am" in this regard. (Though does our relationship to the transcendent define us? I remain agnostic on that matter...) Because Taoism is a religion/philosophy that is defined on the human level by valuing flow, of getting out of the way of ourselves, of allowing ourselves to come into accord with what naturally is, in any situation, of dissolving or even emphasizing loss, and on the divine level it professes a complete lack of knowledge, because knowledge is not the right thing to bring into the house of God.

This is what I believe. Though, as I said, it couldn't matter less.

More on God and the Problem of Certainty.

[Where is the fucking counterculture? Mythos Media.]

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