I received this thoughtful message from Andrew, a man with whom I share much superficial and substantive common background, as a reply to my comment on his Facebook share (social media buzz!).
I am placing it here, with permission, for my own reflection.
I find this absolutely flabbergasting. How is it that in all your years of exposure and involvement in religious and faith organizations you never encountered a challenge to your suppositions and/or to those held by the group? Have you really exhausted all the professional holy men in all your st- er, province? Or did you just forestall and banish the untenable thought?
Amusing or not, it really does appear as if you’re having an intellectual adolescence- about 25 years later than you should have. You’re trotting out the talking points of Bertrand Russell like they’ve slammed the door shut (albeit with much more tact and cheer than his ilk is known for- possibly because you’re Canadian? Much appreciated.)
But intellect is probably not quite the sticking point for you- I sense it’s more knowledge. I’m fairly certain you’d engage quite readily and appreciably with the likes of Jerry Walls and Sandra Richter (to name two scholars I happen to know personally, and whose writings are readily available), and respect their thinking, but I’m doubtful their specific fields would satisfy your insistence on the absolute proof you demand (and assumed, it seems, was on your side when you still identified as a believer). Certainly there are other Biblical scholars who continue to believe and whose knowledge and expertise in the field far dwarf your knowledge or mine, but I imagine at this point you would not be satisfied by these either. Because I suspect you have chosen the dominant worldly narrative and are now requiring, as I’ve heard it said, “extraordinary proof for extraordinary claims.”
Knowledge is a cruel master. As I’m sure you’ve heard, you cannot derive Oughts from a mere Is.
(Honestly? In your mental calisthenics you remind me of the self-taught expert who has no need of school and makes sure everyone knows it. Which is an OK place to be for a little while, but no place to remain.)
I don’t know the details but I perceive an undercurrent of deep resentment and anger at the insufficient, inadequate and possibly willfully ignorant elements of your religious exposure and indoctrination. Maybe these stunted you intellectually; maybe you let them. Maybe the community betrayed you, no doubt you saw action at odds with belief. You may have good reason to be angry, and I myself am rather horrified at the (evident) shortcomings in your development… no one ever need be afraid of learning more. I pray that your children, and mine, are better equipped.
I do think you have to ask yourself, Where does this anger go? Who deserves it? What do I do with it? Most important: where does it come from, and why does it matter? The answers to those questions are the heart of this struggle.
Material evidence of spiritual truth will always be found lacking, falling short of the incontrovertible. The intersection between the two- their tenuous hold on each other -is the realm of faith. As ever thus.
(If you’re looking for an intellectually robust tradition, you should probably go Catholic. Or at least Anglican. I’m thankful for the C&MA and the Protestant tradition I grew up in, but it’s not so great for the deep thinker.)
[disclaimer: This is not an exhaustible subject, I am not an intellectual superior, and nothing here is sufficient.]
Do you agree?
(Links added by me, for convenience. Photo credit – me.)