Lake Davis, near Woomera, 2016

Imagining Resurrection

Wes Penney 21-02-2019
What if your soul is external; an amalgam of the world around you, and “your” consciousness is the lived experience of this, one of a plethora that in all combinations is God? What if, as God is everywhere, is everything, you are in effect God? A son of God, if you like. Wouldn’t resurrection and life after death then be explicit?
Andrew 22-02-2019
We've had this conversation before, you and I, :) and I have to say that I don't really understand how pantheism works. I spent some time wondering last night about why the idea doesn't even grab me. There's lots of stuff that, whether I think I understand it or not, or agree with it or not, manages to intrigue me. The idea that it is all God, me included, just doesn't. If I think about it intellectually, it's too neat. It steps around my experience of my separation from what I take to be the hints of Divinity in our existence. True, to in fact be part of God would highlight my sense of glory— the divine in me, if you like— all that stuff that makes us god-like: our ability to feel, to rejoice, to know the sublime. But it would also ignore the terror of being an animal that dies. It ignores the fragility of always being a heart-beat away from some stray "chemical brain-fart" that kills me, or some texting motorist who runs over me. I'd always think I was deflecting the reality that my existence is incredibly dependent on conditions over which I have no control, and seems almost to be an accident of unlikely good luck. In other words, I'd always be suspicious that if I took your suggestion I'd be engaging in death avoidance or denial: what does it matter that I die, for I am, after all, God? Kierkegaard apparently said anxiety, which he calls 'dread', "is a better teacher than reality, because reality can be lied about, twisted, and tamed by tricks of cultural perception and repression. But anxiety cannot be lied about. Once you face up to it, it reveals the truth of your situation; and only by seeing that truth can you open a new possibility for yourself." (DoD pp88) Admitting the separation seems to me to keep me much more honest about my situation. I note that any sense of "this is so" or even "maybe this is so" about life after death, has come for me only as I admitted, mourned, quaked, and despaired before the fact of my inevitable death. And I have no pretence that I am not still afraid of the process or the actuality of death; I am as anxious about visiting the doctor with odd symptoms as anyone else is. I am currently reading Ernest Becker's book, The Denial of Death, and he quotes Kierkegaard and interprets him in a way that I can't hope to equal: "He gives a strikingly beautiful idea: [It is] not that faith annihilates dread [anxiety] but remaining every young, it is continually developing itself out of the death throat of dread. In other words, as long as man (sic) is an ambiguous creature he can never banish anxiety; what he can do instead is to use anxiety as an eternal spring for growth into new dimensions of thought and trust. Faith poses a new life task, the adventure in openness to a multi-dimensional reality." (DoD pp92) Becker then quotes one other thing that Kierkegaard says: "So soon as psychology has finished with dread, it has nothing to do but to deliver it over to dogmatics." (DoD pp92) Which I take to mean that faith— lived religion or philosophy— which is not founded in the reality of anxiety too easily becomes theory and avoidance of reality, or ideology, and is just words. Clearly, what real reality looks like from outside, as it were, is not something we can hope to penetrate, because we are on the inside of the system. But given my adeptness at self-deception, I find that the humility of separation from what we call Divine is a useful reality check on my imagination of who or what I am— as much as we can have such a check.
Trevor 25-02-2019
"I trust that there is a God because it is the only thing which makes sense of the world that I know. ..." These are the words which I want to say when I get asked, as an engineer or as a computer scientist or as the husband of a plant ecologist, why do I accept the existence of an omnipotent omnipresent omniscient creator of all things who is outside of and above time and space. Because as for you, it's the only thing which makes sense of what I see around me. Good words, Andrew.
Andrew 02-03-2019
Wes, I must have answered your comment in Chrome, because it has a caching bug which misdirects replies. I just found my reply to your initial comment on a page far away. It is now here, and this is just to let you know, in case you've not seen it. Andrew

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