Posted by: Ascentury | Monday, 4 August 2008

Deseo Creer Redux

In an earlier post, Deseo Creer, I stated the following:

[David] Hume masterfully asserted (among other things) the complete unreliability of eyewitness accounts which narrate fantastic stories and religious miracles. The fatal flaw in his assumptions (and he would have been a good engineer; he always states them) is that he always assumes that you yourself, the rational being to whom Hume appeals, have had the same or substantially similar phenomenal existence that he has had. … Differences in subjective perception aside, have you ever experienced something which you consider quite unlikely to be explained by rational, reductivist means? I know that I certainly have, and although I believe that God works within physical processes and laws (regardless to our empirical understanding thereof), I know that he often effects circumstances we would recognize as frankly preternatural if we weren’t continually trying to apply post-Enlightenment reason to break them down into mechanistic terms (with mixed results). Oftentimes we can succeed in identifying the physical devices God uses, but fail to examine motivations; similarly, we attribute too much to chance and too little to Providential benevolence.

What is the extent to which our own prejudices (Enlightenment or otherwise) influence the ways in which God can communicate with us?

Is it possible that most of us cut ourselves off from more exotic communications (like dreams or visions) by the strictly rational positivist view we adopt in practice, if not in profession? Would the most spiritually attuned of us readily accept a dream like Pharaoh’s for Joseph? Perhaps.  I myself have experienced in dreams divine messages, but today I don’t believe that I could readily receive them.  In spite of my past experience, I suspect that I am closed off (at least for now) from that form of communication.

Orson Pratt lamented that his great regret was that he’d never seen a vision.  Would he have been too analytical of the divine manifestation?  I’m an engineer, so I tend to prefer being well-grounded logically.  At the same time, I have come to believe that the universe that God created is inherently absurd, in the sense of being inscrutable to combinatorial logic.  The edifices of science that I so lovingly study often seem hollow, for all the effort that has gone into them.

Recently, I’ve begun to embrace the irrational in my life, through mysticism or other communion, recognizing the inherent majesty of the universe beyond the capacity of my simple reasoning to comprehend.  I try (with middling success) to include regular meditation (zazen) in my evening, followed by scripture study.

If I were more willing to humble myself and accept the limits of my capacity for reason and understanding, would the Spirit be able to reach me in a greater variety of ways?

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Responses

  1. +1. Who more? 🙂

  2. Actually, something else that has been bothering me lately about this topic is the role of others’ faith. Is being around someone full of the possibility of the universe and the gospel, like Joseph Smith, conducive to greater revelatory means?


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