This is a statement made by one of so many human creatures that roam this earth; and it is the belief of the author of such statement that opinions are ultimately relative to their background, therefore limiting “the impossibility of faith” to a narrow discourse that is and will be shared only by those that have a similar mental constitution, in short, those that share the rare tendency to doubt, question, and challenge all forms of knowledge and experience.
So, without complicating the matter too much, what is, in brief, the impossibility of faith all about?
To convey opinions through the awkwardness of words, one must first of all be able to express the circumstances from which the opinion arose. This provides the reader, first of all, access to the frame of mind needed to understand the opinion. So, before you judge too quickly the impertinence of my opinion (the impossibility of having religious faith), I will present to you my humble case.
I adore religion; it has fascinated me both in my youthful years of religious piety as well as in my later years of recklessness and agnosticism. I’ve lived both sides of such opposite worlds, I’ve had to cross through the tenebrous chasm that separates the comfort of a religious established life from the frightful unknown that constitutes the emptiness of near-atheism. I haven’t become an atheist, I cannot confidently claim that there is no god or that there is no supernatural reality. I simply withhold my judgment and allow a blank white space to fill the answer. I have fallen prey of the impetuous force of the scientific method, which as sound as it may be in this day and age, I admit, I still hold some caution against it. I’ve written before about the limitations of science and won’t dwell on it here. But to finish the point, it has impressed deeply on my mind and I cannot dismiss it easily however skeptical I am about its capacity to resolve the mysteries of human life.
Even after I started to doubt every religion or religious claim, I continued to have a respect for religion, a secret infatuation for the solemnity and profundity that religion usually conveys. After a suicidal and conflictive adolescence, I finally came into friendly terms with religion again, but this time from the perspective of a spectator and not so much as a member. For the last seven years I’ve had the great delight of studying and investigating the religions of the world, uncovering so much wisdom that is to be found in the poetry, symbolism and narrative of religious thought and feeling.
So, what makes me today say that it is impossible to have faith? Faith is complicated to analyze. From a reductionist point of view, I can affirm like many others that religion is nothing more than a social phenomenon to keep the members of a community or society passively functioning without rebelling against the system. (the opium of the people, as Marx once coined it). Other rational views establish faith as the response to fear, the necessity that arises from the fear of the unknown, the fear of disease and death, fear from the impotence man has in a world full of dangerous forces that can easily upset his petty order. Another view is that religion is a genetically wired aspect of the human psyche, that we are bound to create religious system because of the evolution of our brain. Other views establish religion as the longing to return to a previously lived experience of totality (such as when we were fetuses or infants, when the differentiation between ego and the external world had not yet been firmly delineated). These are all views I’ve learned from others, they have not actually been developed by me. Nonetheless, they all point to sensible possibilities… religion as universal as it is may have an identifiable cause in one or all these theories.
What I’ve concluded is that you don’t need to invalidate or refute religion to be able not to believe in it. Religion is simply a matter of insufficiency for many of us. Fortunately or unfortunately, we don’t have the innate passion to submit to the religiosity of the blind believer; we are unable to digest the nectar of spirituality without some trace of justification. That’s why for some of us religion is not received with disgust, simply mistrust. We need not dismiss it by some rational argument; we are simply waiting for some kind of revelation that will allow us to embrace it wholly. The revelation or justification can come in the garment of rationality or in the euphoria of irrationality, yet without it, we are unable to have faith.
The impossibility of faith is not an a priori dismissal of religion as false. It is the incapacity to believe in the precepts of transcendence without the arrival of some signal, a manifestation physical or psychological that can make us say: I see everything clearly now.
Our Age is too near to get sight of its boundaries, it is too early to understand its misconceptions. We are too dogmatic in our denial of dogma, absolutely certain in the impossibility of absolute truth. We refuse categorization, even the relativistic classification nauseates us with its blatant inaccuracy. We have exhausted the map of the expected, we have sailed off the edge of objectivity. Is there enough courage at last to tear open the last unexamined convictions?
Science has detonated such a bright flash in the sky of our conceptions, it left us bleakly trembling under the paleness of the explainable. Our lust craves for some personal knowledge beyond the downpour of communication. Yet, we are still too philosophical in the claim that philosophy is futile and irrelevant, too logical while we humiliate the world into meaninglessness.
Every man has always been in error. We scrutinize the lack of breadth in antiquity, humans living under the conditions of necessity. But has the wealth of leisure begotten any real savory experience of the magnitude of the universe? Do we not still live under the dining lamp, stuff our heads with hamburgers and neglect the vastness of space and time only to idle hours of curiosity?
Do we prefer to stand still in opposition to progress or move frantically to and fro in opposition to linearity? Is there much to gain in opposing the current of history? Does the weight of our question collapse under our temptation to doubt?
Why do we seek definition? How can we induce our subjective universe to submit to our words before we have been able to glance it all? Existence is too chaotic to wear the stale garment of adjectives and deductions. Whatever we seek – if we seek anything at all – lies beyond the fortress of definition.
Let the living eyes of the future bury us with their dead words,
for we will be by then … dead things.