Sunday, September 16, 2012

the most honest of supernatural beliefs

In the previous entry I pointed out that the result of someone's "search for meaning" can only be as valid as its answers to "the demand for meaning" which everyone else applies to it. Two central questions of that demand for meaning are 1) "What exactly do you know?" and 2) "How do you know it?" I judge that beliefs in the supernatural offer irrelevant and/or illogical answers to such questions.

But recently I found a specimen that fares better than most: Ietsism. Ietsism asserts that "Something" supernatural exists with some of the characteristics which traditional religions assign to gods, but The Something is also almost wholly unknown. Hence Ietsism answers the two central questions from before as follows: 1) virtually nothing and 2) an inarticulate emotional sensation. Ietsism doesn't invent complicated theology and then insist on the reality of those unconfirmed inventions. In that way, Ietsism must be one of the most honest of beliefs in the supernatural.

That doesn't imply that I converted, of course. Despite its honesty, Ietsism is nevertheless too flimsy.

I confess that I've felt an impulsive connection to my surroundings. I've been in a humble mood of gratefulness for my existence. I've marveled at immensity and complexity. I've observed fortunate coincidences that evoked the hope that the cosmos is helping me. I've observed unfortunate coincidences that evoked the anger that the cosmos is thwarting me. I've striven to accomplish ideals.

Don't these ephemeral intuitions qualify as religious experiences? No, in my estimation. To draw the conclusion of Something is to lend far too much credence to my own caprices. Humans are too easily influenced. How often do we jump to the unlikely explanation that fits our preconceptions of the moment? If we're feeling mistrustful, then hissing whispers are about us. If we're feeling fearful, then unexpected noises are coming from dangers. If we're feeling proud, then our failures are mere accidents. If we're hungry, then food is wondrous; if we're nauseated, then food is ghastly. Feeling is a pragmatic starting-point, not a pragmatic clinching fact. 

No comments:

Post a Comment