Sunday, February 07, 2010


I think that atheism and fundamentalist religion as we know them will last barely a geological eye-blink just a few hundred or a few thousand years more. Then we will begin to understand that we are spiritual beings and animals; that the universe is impersonal and love preceded it; that we believe and we doubt; that a particle may be in one place and in another place at the same time; and that love is a chemical reaction and a revelation. Above all, I hope that we will someday understand that apophatic paradox is the blessed, creative, and freeing nature of reality, not a "problem."...

I believe that someday the celebration of the spiritual/material paradox will break down what now seems to be a "Berlin Wall" between secularism and religion in a way that transcends the boundaries of the world's monastic communities and science labs and explodes into the realm of general knowledge, just as the once far-fetched idea of a round earth revolving around the sun exploded from the theory of one or two scientists, eventually to become general knowledge.

Meanwhile, speaking as a father, I know that my concern for my children was not what they believed about me, but how they behaved and how they treated their mother, their siblings, their home, and their schools. My concern was not whether my children believed the right things about school but whether they did their homework. My concern was not whether they believed the correct things about families, but whether they were polite to their mother.

-Frank Schaeffer, Patience With God, pgs. 180-181

(For more information on apophatic theology, click here. It makes a lot of sense when you think about it - or at least it does to me.)

Those that still see the world in black and white, "us vs. them" terms will no doubt regard the above statement as nonsense at best, and dangerous heresy to be stamped out at worst. For those who have progressed beyond a Stage Three faith, the above will likely elicit a fervent prayer of agreement that humanity can one day outgrow its pettiness (and survive long enough to see that day).

That's not to say that all Stage Five individuals would agree about what that future will look like or how we can get there, but with the understanding that there is no "them" comes the realization that even major differences of opinion need not be settled violently. I'm enough of a realist (or cynic, if you prefer) to doubt whether human nature is improvable, but I cling to hope - and to my celebration of paradox - all the same.

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