Fundamental questions

The word “fundamentalism” is confusing because the real point of interest is not a particular religious movement but a basic philosophical issue, whether God is symbol or reality. Is religious language just a way of talking about human ideals and concerns, or does it sometimes mean what it says? Since the former view is presupposed by both the academic study of religion and by “pluralism”, the latter is considered ignorant and dangerous by definition. Still, it seems that liberal tolerance and modern scholarship prejudge too many things. The world doesn’t have to conform to the middle-class expectations that would make it safe, manageable, and just our size. In physics David Schramm got a lot of mileage out of taking ideas like the Big Bang quite literally rather than viewing them as weird theoretical constructs that help us talk about our experience by making the equations come out right. If that approach works in cosmology why not in connection with other fundamental questions? We need some sort of answer to such things. It doesn’t seem likely that the experience and interests of the managerial class, which is what mainstream liberal religion comes down to, would provide a reliable standard. Doesn’t it make more sense to think big?

2 thoughts on “Fundamental questions”

  1. “Still, it seems that liberal

    “Still, it seems that liberal tolerance and modern scholarship prejudge too many things.”

    —- which is odd, coming from a group that prides itself on its thorough-going rationalism. While they have quite correctly concluded that Cartesian foundationalism is untenable, they also seem to have concluded that there is no point in examining their own presuppositions. The same group which bleats endlessly about “diversity” is curiously unable or unwilling to entertain viewpoints based on presuppositions other than their own.

    If they would only take a serious look at it, they might find some illumination in the traditional understanding of sin as a willfull turning away from God.

    Adam and Eve eat from the Tree of Knowledge and then *hide themselves* when God comes into the garden.

    Is this just a symbolic story, what some might dismissively call a “myth”? Perhaps. But, as Tolkien told Lewis, some myths are true.

    “…whether God is symbol or reality”

    I don’t agree that “symbol” and “reality” are necessarily opposed. A symbol can be a symbol of something real, and the range of things which can be symbolized is not limited to “human ideals and concerns.” Quite the contrary: symbolism is probably *most* appropriate when speaking of the transcendent or of the ways in which eternal truths are revealed in a transient world.

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