Friday, December 02, 2005

Longing for the Transcendental

Society has progressed mightily along the lines of science and technology, breaking new barriers in knowledge and information processing. However, society has not been able to shake off a fascination with the trancedental. In fact, as the 20th century began to close, a renewed interest in spirituality and the "other" began to rise to the surface. The cold, hard rationalism of yesterday swiftly became a thing of the past, being replaced by a renewed interest in the trascedental.

There are clearly two things about this trend that should trouble philosophical materialists, or at least make them think twice before proceeding. First, why, on the foundation of philosophical materialism, should humans be inclined to ponder the supernatural? Second, can it be intellectually honest to claim that ALL reports of supernaturalism which span all human history were fabrications? Surely some of them are forgeries, but can all of them be forgeries?

In ages past, in the times of the witchhunts and such things, some skeptics/rationalists of the day would discount these "curious arts" as the inventions of their persecutors. However, the recent ressurgence in spiritualism calls this explanation in question and forces one to reconsider any such assumption.

The reality we must ultimately accept is this: Man is very religious. Years upon years of new knowledge and advancement will not take that away. It may change who and how he worships, but not the concept of worship and religion, which is so ingrained into the human being.

As a Christian, I must be careful to not fall into two extremes. I believe OS Guinness puts this very well in The Dust of Death when he says: "I would merely say here that, as a Christian, I always attempt to avoid an over-sceptical rationalism on one hand or any premature escape into a magical explanation on the other". Many individuals caught up in the New Age movement are extremely caught up in superstition. Others, often within modernistic Christainity, have become so rationalistic in their thinking that they deny all miracles or supernatural things both in the Bible and in the world around them. Both of these extremes are untenable and ultimately lead to ruin, if consistently lived upon. As Christians we need to be clear that the transcendental is very real. On the other hand, we need to be careful to avoid using the trascendental as a cloak to explain away everything and divorce ourselves from reality.

Humans seem to be wired to worship, and this occurs whether they do so in the context of modern neo-paganism, ancient paganism, or some of the old monotheisms. I don't think this can ever be explained on an evolutionary basis. If we are to assume philisophical materialism, there can be no utilitarian basis for the ultimate religiousness of humans. Religion is not merely a way that some people utilize to control others (as Marx would say), but rather religion seems to be running through our very veins.

The universality of religious devotion does not mean that all religions are equally valid. If we are to have any regard for truth, then the truth claims of each religion must have bearing. And since the truth claims of many religions conflict, we must presume that at least a handful are wrong in their fundamental precepts.

I believe Christianity rigorously answers the most basic questions of human existence. It explains the religiosity of man, and it also explains his fallen station. And it provides a meaningful answer that can provide hope hence balancing the fine line between unfounded optimism and destructive pessimism. I believe Biblical Christianity does answer the dilemas of modern man, and we need to be more bold and ready to proclaim the Gospel because it does speak to the people of our day!

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Blogger Spinney said...

Very well said. I know I have found myself walking the line of little faith when it comes to the miraculous things that God does. I tend to think they are for a different time or place and yet I believe all things to be possible with God. Thanks for your thoughts!

1:20 AM  

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