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Similarity, Community, Values and Human Nature - Part IX


How To Believe

For us to explore the individual and his nature, we first must characterize the erroneous idiocy of 'Secular Humanism'. For without an acceptance of a pattern of orderly function in the universe, no moral standard could be established; only 'relativism' of different behaviors. Once again, I turn to C S Lewis to put clarity on this subject:

"Really great moral teachers never do introduce new moralities: it is quacks and cranks who do that... The real job of every moral teacher is to keep on bringing us back, time after time, to the old simple principles which we are all so anxious not to see."

In order to discuss, intelligently, a universe that will release its secrets; we must accept that a method or process of how we come to understand this knowledge, can and does exist. The 'individual', through his own consciousness, is able to perceive and acquire a link into this complexity of 'Nature'. This ability is in his 'Human Nature', if not actually being its very core. So in the spirit of our quest to discover as much as possible in the totality of the universe, we will examine what the notion of God is, and His relationship to the 'individual' and man's 'Human Nature'.

Karl Rahner provides the direction we should be seeking:

What Does the Word "God" Mean? (p. 46). Although the word "God" functions like a proper name, it is not one. It differs from the proper names "Yahweh" and "Father." Unlike them, "God" has a "blank face," since God is ineffable and does not enter the world. Because it is "silent," it can be overlooked and unheard. But the "blank face" of the word "God" is not only known in every culture, but takes on a variety of cultural contours.

If the word "God" disappeared, then human beings would not be brought face to face with the whole of reality as the creation of this "God." People would not be brought face to face with their own reality, with the individual's own existence as a whole. For Rahner, the ability to put reality into question is what constitutes the human being. Without a "God" who is the creator and sustainer of reality, there would be no one to question the meaning of reality, and the defining characteristic of the human would be absent. Humanity would henceforth no longer exist.


Transcendental and A Posteriori Knowledge of God (p. 51). When Rahner speaks of "transcendental" knowledge of God, he means it is something "a posteriori." We know it, in other words, "after the fact," while reflecting on human experience. Our experience with others, Rahner says, enables us to know ourselves, whom we "see" as we reflect on our experience. So too we know the divine in reflecting on our experience of the world. The experience raises in our minds the question of who we are and what we ought to be.

But this knowledge is no mere reflection after the fact. It is what Rahner calls a "permanent existential," i.e., a part of who we are. We encounter ourselves whenever we try to speak of our experience of God. It is we who are capable of an encounter with God, able to transcend what we once thought to be our outermost horizon. The experience itself is a mystery. The mystery is not reducible to what we can say about our transcendental knowledge.

Our transcendental experience does not cancel the fact that we know it only afterwards, in the reflection on it. This cautions us to beware that God is not a thing we can "know" beforehand. We cannot indoctrinate another about God. - This is exactly the point with our discussion. Your consciousness into the 'Mystery' is your own, unique and is intrinsic to your make up as an 'Individual', even though it is part of all of our common 'Human Nature'.

The concept of God is not a concept we can grasp. It is, rather, what grasps us.

This is a very difficult concept to accept, when your entire training and rational tendencies demand proof. The best reply to that demand is to ask just what empirical evidence does the 'Secular Humanist' provide that the universe is self-existing and not created? His is the definitive and categorical acceptance of the 'Atheist', without reason, logic or evidence; only a belief that the buffoon will accept. Contrast this with the 'permanent existential' aspect of our 'Human Nature', whereby we come to know the transcendental, with our inquiry, but not entirely through our own efforts. As I have said before, we always ask the simple question: "But Is It So?" The 'Atheist' and 'Secular Humanist' has but one answer; NO WAY. The 'Agnostic' and dedicate rationalist with integrity, replies; I Don't Know, either way. And the 'Existentialist' who accepts that pattern of orderly function in the universe, says; I am part of that transcendental knowledge; however, limited I am in explaining it or how.

The uniqueness of each person is indisputable, even though we are all part of that 'Similarity' within the common 'Human Nature'. Your consciousness is not mine, nor mine yours. No two individuals have exactly the same awareness or understanding, even between identical genetic twins. Each person exercises their own personal Freedom independently. Each person is accountable for their moral choices. Its a 'Similarity' of our common 'Human Nature'.

Transcendental experience is not purely "natural" because it takes place in freedom. And the freedom given by God, the freedom to act responsibly and to make choices, is itself "supernatural."

The Term Transcendence as the Infinite, the Indefinable, and the Ineffable (p. 61). Rahner states that his goal is to express the source of our experience of transcendence without reducing it to a mere object, one topic among others, or a system. What gives him hope is that, whenever he tries to reflect on the meaning of transcendence, "an experience of transcendence takes place" (p. 62). We are, in effect, "pointing to the silence."

Transcendence does not create God. Rather, transcendence is "borne by" the concept of God, who makes transcendence possible. The term of transcendental experience, that is, Holy Mystery, is what Rahner calls the unity of essence and existence. If it were existence alone, then we could experience it in the same way we experience anything else, like a sunset. If it were only an essence, without any concrete existence, then we could not experience it. But as the unity of essence and existence, Holy Mystery has a reality which is grounded for us in the experience of transcendence. That experience is a necessary part of the human being, the one who is created so as to hear God's Word. - This is probably one of the most crucial concepts. The faith 'in the belief' makes it 'real' and allows for our knowledge into the transcendence to be revealed. This is not easily reducible to simple logic. Nor is it an idea that most would be eager to accept. For it allows for our freedom of willing this knowledge, but depends on a 'gift' to be shared with us to understand. We are no longer in total control of our reason, and that can be frightening. The 'Mystic' may explain better, than I; but the mystery is 'real' and part of our common 'Human Nature'.

The listener, presented with "proofs," is really being confronted with the light of his or her own spirit. He or she is faced with questioning, with anxiety, joy, moral obligation, and the anticipation of death--all of which recall the very experience of transcendence. - That's part of the 'Existential' method, facing our mortality and asking those 'cosmic questions'. And who, that has the courage to ask, will not conclude that we are not an accident, by part of a design?

Finally, C S Lewis has the final word. It's hard to think that another, has words that describe it any better:

"People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says, 'If you keep a lot of rules, I'll reward you, and if you don't I'll do the other thing.' I do not think that is the best way of looking at it. I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a Heaven creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is Heaven: that is, it is joy, and peace, and knowledge, and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other."

Isn't this the way your moral 'Values' become one with 'Nature' and achieve 'Community'?

Next we will turn to another side of 'Human Nature' and how it effects the development of 'Civilization'.


With most people unbelief in one thing is founded upon blind belief in another.
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

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