First posted on Wednesday, 15 August 2012 at 21:36
It is as lost and lonely spirits that we inhabit the nightmare world of Cartesian thought,knocking in vain on the window pane of external material reality, only for no one to hear. Is there anything really out there, or is it all in my mind? Will what I have observed today happen in the same way tomorrow? I cannot know for certain; I can only have faith.
And western Christianity hardly answers the call. Ignoring the warnings of Paul, Christians either forgotten or misconstrued their Christian heritage and allowed themselves to be too greatly influenced by Greek intellectualism. This caused a constant opposing of mind to nature and,in contemplation, of mind to God.
Paul warned in 1 Corinthians 1
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
The Christianity of Paul eliminated the dualism between thinking and willing, between intellectualism and voluntarism, between knowing and loving. Did not Paul warn us that knowledge only tends to puff up, whereas charity edifies?
However,Christians seemed to have been more enamoured of Plato and Aristotle than of their own heritage and have sought succor in the same mysticism as science. They consider God as unknown, absolutely other than self, a God of mystery.
The mystics might ridicule the intellectualistic theories because such theories vainly attempt union with the Absolute through knowledge, whereas the mystics feel that union with the Absolute must come through love, transformation of the self, a creative process. But this is only playing lip-service to Paul’s entreaties. It is a parody of Pauline Christianity. Both intellectualism and mysticism make God external to the subject, something knowable, only waiting to be known. For now, God is unknown, ineffable and hidden from man and the world. Christian dogma, under the influence of neo-Platonic thought, has made God, as well as the world, transcendent to man.
Such philosophy has created a chasm between the finite and the contingent creation on the one hand and the Infinite and Necessary God-creator on the other. It created and maintained the problem of crossing the chasm by acts of knowledge and love. Man must be united with God by the same spurious faith that science employs in its ‘understanding’ of the world.
As a result, religion has tended to set God off apart from man and then told man to reach out for God, to search for Him in the cosmos or on the altar. Because of this presupposition, men despair of ever finding God -‘where is the evidence?’ - and have become agnostics.
Christians have reduced God to the manner of existing of the Greek forms, denied him a true spiritual reality and placed an insurmountable obstacle between Him and human understanding. It is no wonder that God must remain unknown for those Christians who have come under the Greek influence. Transcendence and mysticism become intimately connected. God becomes an object of adoration from afar for the mystic and it is in the mystical, meditative routes to God that Christianity blends into other religions, each sharing something in their contemplations. Out of this a universalism readily emerges in which that which is shared is retained, and that which is not, such as the Christian God, is discarded.