Monday, March 13, 2017

Faith Fast.

Building on the year I gave up church, 2017 sees me being Atheis[t] for Lent. No mere introductory heresy for me, thanks!

AfL's main aims:
  1. to encourage participants to freely examine their own faith position, unsettling them by creating space where unacknowledged uncertainty and repression can be faced
  2. to show that history's deepest atheistic and theistic thinkers are not as polarised as we might presume and, arguably, belong side by side.
I'm not sure I get 2) yet...... though it is true I feel more kinship with some atheist and agnostic friends than with some Christian people on my radar. I'm all for 1), as a means of going deeper and setting oneself free.

So far, I've two favourite reflections. One was a lecture on how little it means and how problematic it is to tell someone what we believe. When I say 'I believe in God', do the words communicate anything reliable? What am I really trying to say? What does the other person think I mean? Why am I saying it? Spoken beliefs are notoriously misleading. I may say, for example, that I 'believe' in community or 'care' about the environment but live an individualistic, wasteful life. What we are saying, often, is: "I want you to think I am the kind of person that believes and cares...."

The other was a fairly complex argument by Antony Flew against the existence of God. It goes something like: if there is nothing I could ever say or that life could ever throw at you that would convince you your faith position is wrong, then it is a priori fantasy. Wow! What hypothetical event or argument would lead me to decide I've been wrong, all these years? If I answer "nothing could ever do so", surely my position is ideological and totally fenced off from reality?

The problem with a lot of AfL, perhaps by its very nature and perhaps only so far, is its cerebral bent. Thinking is a tiny part of being human. And faith, for me, is not primarily if at all about having the right (orthodox) set of beliefs (doctrine). It is about chasing down and testing out whatever sense of relationship with the Divine you have been given. I cannot imagine AfL will deter me from that ... but I would like to think I'm open to the possibility!

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