Sunday, January 26, 2014

Agnostic Confession

"I am an intellectual agnostic."

Yesterday I said it out loud for the first time and have henceforth been feeling the repercussions of such a statement. I don't even know if it's true. I don't know if that means I don't believe anymore. I know what I meant was that I cannot intellectually prove or validate what my heart believes; that is, that the Jewish God exists in all His glory. Can the two thoughts truly rest in the same body? Can one doubt absolutely his own heart's convictions?

I just don't know if I have another choice. I know that in my heart I feel God's presence, at least I have on many occasion. I know that I still confide in Him and ask for assistance. And yet, the more I read, the more I contemplate, The more I know, I have absolutely no rationale for my faith. Any attempt is, at its essence, just a cheap rationalization to make believe my faith is based on logic.

Isn't agnosticism the most intellectually honest response? After all, both the theist and the atheist make conclusions based on incomplete data. Indeed the atheist, based on his doubts and scientific discoveries, concludes that the existence of a deity is a absolute impossibility. Is not such a statement in it's own right a leap of faith? The theist is no better. He, after feeling God speak to him or hearing a convincing argument for God, concludes that there must be a creator of this universe.

Only the agnostic has the humility to admit that we indeed do not know how this world came to be. He is bold enough to live in the excruciatingly uncomfortable reality of uncertainty. Some people, those who don't understand the ultimate importance of the question as to whether God exists or not, will be able to live without much consequence. They will avoid philosophical inquiries and merely shrug away their doubts. They will, necessarily, commit many instances of hypocrisy, all the while remaining clueless. They will die blissfully. I dare say, this describes most of society (even many of those who claim to be religious.)

But there remain some who have heard the question; who have searched relentlessly only to run into the dead end of doubt. Their lot is one of isolation and suffering. They are compelled to constantly search for the elusive truth. Their minds grapple with these questions endlessly and are jealous of the naive who are stubborn in their convictions. Instead of gaining respect for his brutal honesty, he is scorned by the "herd" for being intellectually lazy or spiritually shallow.

Is this my lot now? Indeed what is the point of my intellect if my inevitable end is one of torment? I must ask: Why hath Thou created me with a challenged soul if it will only cause me to stray from Thee?

And so, on and on, my intellect will battle my heart.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Journey Begins

Once again my mind is a swirl of chaos. Questions and answers flash before my eyes. I have made it my philosophical duty to solve the real questions that confront every human at some point in their lives. Questions on the existence of God, or the validity of religion, and our perception of truth and reality.

Up until recently I have been content in my knowledge of God's existence, with the knowledge that Judaism was a true religion and that I understand the will of the Creator of the universe. 

However, about a year ago a friend began to challenge my faith and I discovered my vast ignorance in the topics I thought I knew so well. It led me on a journey that has taken me no where, but has put a terrifying question mark on everything I held dear. I do not intend to back away from the challenges and doubts I now face, but to solve them one way or another. 

The first question I faced was about my understanding of truth. If we are born into a world, I reasoned, that was influencing our thoughts from little after we are ejected into it, then what claim have we to know that what we believe to be true isn't in fact just a product of our environment? Since the communist, the Jihadist, the capitalist, and the Buddhist, all claim to be holding onto the truth, could I really claim that being born an Orthodox Jew didn't affect the way I saw the world and truth? Could anyone be bold enough to make such a claim? Therefore, because we can't trust our thoughts to be of our own design (and not influenced by the society around us), we have no more claim to the truth than anyone. The word truth, besides being an illusive unattainable ideal, all but disappears. 

These thoughts troubled me and caused me to inquire among other believers. The general answer I got from people who understand the question was that it is the feeling, the inner voice of the soul, that validates what their rabbi's told them. It is not the cold facts that the man of faith is concerned with; but the divine feeling that connects them to the beyond. That certain "knowledge" which, they claim, transcends reason and logic. 

Others still, proposed that in fact the feelings that haunt them are not to be trusted and it is only the proofs of God's existence that concern them. To them, the God debate does not exist. In fact, they declare, he who sees not His works in this world is a fool. That "God" is the most logical answer to the mystery's of the universe. 

After much contemplating and studying, I am fairly certain that the road to God is paved with wonder. Wonder, a most perplexing human condition, is a the function of man to see a phenomenon and instead of turning away bored or seeking to explain it, man simply stares innocently in awe of it's power or beauty. This seems to be the way man must seek God. Through honest almost child-like wonder he must gaze at the world and in face of the puzzles presented simply "know" that Someone or Something had to have created it. 

This is of course still riddled with difficulties and religion has not yet been validated or proven but at the very least I know which goggles I must peer through if I hope to see what the man of faith sees.  

This blog will serve as a medium for me to present my thoughts, doubts, fears, questions and constant chaos which fills my mind most of every day.