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The Metaphysics of Religious Mysticism

What is the true religion? Is a question that seems so overwhelming is seems almost taboo in many circles, yet I would wager many people have pondered upon it. The question may have taken on such strange and almost undebatable proportions because the question itself requires more basic assumptions (as in conclusions to previous discussion) to be meaningful to discuss, which always complicates matters, on top of the pervasive political correct sensitivities that has made good honest metaphysical debate infrequent and that which is incoherent pervasive.

But let us make some assumptions and see if they lead us anywhere.

If we assume people are indeed stubborn, then people who do claim to know the truth, thus beginning a debate, may be liable to simply claim they are correct for no utterrable reason, thus ending it. In this light it does not seem strange that so many differing people and groups use this method and yet claim completely different things.

But is this the only way to uphold religious conclusions? In other aspects of life there are methods for answering questions. Can one develop a method for answering questions concerning religion? I shall attempt to show that it is at least a possibility worth considering.

First I would like to point out that very few of the arguments in this article are originally mine. I seem to recall reading them somewhere at one point or another. And so my first argument on this matter of religion is upon the study of the expression of philosophic thoughts upon the matter of religion to begin with. I for my part assume that if some dilemma is lurking in some wayward crook in the depths of my mind, that the same predicament has befallen some other mortal who has thought about it for much longer than I have, I only just becoming aware of the dilemma, with perhaps more cunning than I can muster, and has done me the service of writing down whatever it is they thought could be written upon the subject.

I do reflect now that I once had a friend of whom it suddenly occurred to him that the questions ‘Is there a god?’ and ‘Is there an afterlife?’ were probably worth some consideration. However, so bewildered did this sudden shift in temperament render him that he came up with the notion that he should not expose himself to anything upon the subject, so that he might come to a conclusion in a ‘pure’ sort of way. However, I pointed out that the only way to achieve such a non-biased point of view among the constant implicit or explicit religious view (as in views on what one should do) expressed anytime one witnesses anyone ever doing anything, is to exit from society altogether. Otherwise, if your going to expose yourself to how people seem to be living, be it myself, pop-culture icons, friends, family, coworkers, acquaintances, passerbys, and indeed any physical evidence one ever comes across of somebody ever doing anything (buildings, foot prints), whether they seem to have intended to express a view or not (in the latter case expressing the view that they do not think they should express any views), it doesn’t seem reasonable then to go out of one’s way to not be expos oneself to what the great and not so great philosophers have to say or not say. It may or may not be wise to incorporate the considerations of other peoples account their dealings with truth in any sort of search for truth I do certainly claim as truth.

The next step that I think is wise is to try to arrange the questions in some sort of hierarchy of importance. ‘Is there a god?’ we would assume must be answered before questions like ‘What is the nature of god?’ or ‘Why do, what we identify as, bad things happen?’. There is of course fierce debate over what order the questions should be ordered. I for my part, I order the questions like so:

Simultaneously I ask: ‘Is there a most powerful being responsible for ordering the universe in a way that I can come to understand and base my actions upon to one degree or another?’ and ‘Will I discontinue existing at some point or another?’.

I answer yes to the first question and no to the second, for reasons to reflective to be reflected here. Not that I would hide my views, I wrote a twenty three page essay on the matter I called “An Ontological Expedition†. Unfortunately it does not seem publishable.

I then ask: ‘Does this ‘god’, as defined above, decide what should and should not be done arbitrarily, or based on some sort of principle I can discern independently of a direct communication?’.

I answer yes, for reasons I can express more succinctly. For even if direct communication with god is necessary for knowledge of the truth which is, as far as I’m concerned (in this scenario), arbitrarily decided, I would still have to interpret the message correctly, or I would need to figure out some sort of way to receive a communiqué in a non misinterpretable way, both of which would require some sort of principle or theory that could not by definition be supplied in the same manner. Thus, at the very least some sort of truth independent from the direct communication with god must exist, or no truth is accessible at all (unless of course we all know the non-misinterpretable truth and we never disagree on anything). What we conclude is that there is either a truth that we can figure out, or a truth about how to receive the truth, which becomes pragmatically equivalent with the truth. So even if one does assume that god arbitrarily decides what the truth is for no reasons humans can come to understand (something I happen to reject), one has still not rendered human reason irrelevant, for one cannot argue that ‘I have arbitrarily searched for a direct communication with god and found it, I suggest you do the same†.

However, I still must ask, ‘Has god expressed himself to humanity in any direct form?’ even though truth is, at least in theory, discernible independently of any direct expression.

Now, and only now does the ‘true religion question’ become relevant. Any bifurcation at any point in the preceding argumentation would render the question ‘Is there a true religion out there?’ irrelevant. Though, to ward off senseless quibbles, I would like to point out I use the term religion here in it’s colloquial form: as in ‘religions’. Theories that state: ‘there is no god, there is no truth (except this one): life is meaningless’ can be argued to be religions under certain definitions of religion. However, these are a precarious class of theories, since they state as a corollary it is meaningless to believe in them or voice them. There are of course theories that state that god does not exist but still hold life is meaningful, which can more closely be argued to be religions. However, I for my part classify them more as ‘doctrines’ since followers of such theories I have not been known to refer to themselves as religious, nor do I find people referring to such theories when they employ the utterance ‘religion’. For example, if I heard someone claim “I am not religious†I would not directly infer that they follow no method for making decisions.

Whether correctly representing the common use of the term ‘religion’ or not, I define it as ‘theories claiming to be a representation of the expression of god or gods, as defined previously’.

(However, remember, first, one must conclude whether there is a god, whether figuring out things is necessary, and then whether it is or is not reasonable for god to express himself to humanity. Without these conclusions discussion or contemplation of what is the true religion is to dubious to carry out. For if one does conclude that god would express himself to humanity then one knows it’s possible to find it, whereas it is very difficult to search for something one does not now exists. So far though, there have been few proofs put forward even claiming that god necessarily wouldn’t express himself to humanity. And of course, unless one is absolutely certain something is impossible one must entertain the notion that it’s possible. In our case: wade out into the quagmire of human activity we refer to as religion.)

Which religion exactly is the true religion is not the topic of this essay. The argument here is that simply asking the question ‘Which is the true religion?’ before answering other more general questions may simply tend to overwhelm and cut short a search for an ill-defined thing. However, if one answers the more general questions as I have, I at least have found, one comes to the following situation.

One is not bothered by the ludicrous amount of differing religions and life theories out there, for since I could start a religion right now other people certainly can, and there is certainly what qualifies as a ludicrous amount of people out there. Furthermore, whatever the ‘true religion’ is, if one concludes that god does not arbitrarily decide truth, then whatever this true religion states must be provable through an argument that, though may or may not incorporate the premise that god exists, does not support any claim with the argument “it’s true because god says so and I say he says so†. As in, any action the religion in question supports must be also supported by an independent true arguments.

A consequence this doctrine leads to new pastures of debate, for one is now in the position that everything one claims one should do should be producible from some coherent theory independent of the actual expression of god on adheres to. All religions have an interest in proving the wisdom of their suggestions. And so, “what is wisdom?†is a completely open debate.

However, this conclusion does not necessarily lead to the idea that no expression of god’s is needed, for many true statements once produced can be verified much more easily than those statements can be produced in the first place.

Thus, to conclude all these conclusions that I argue more thoroughly elsewhere, first, simply because two people have opposing views does not mean good debate is impossible. The goal of a discussion is to identify the most general source of the agreement and debate that. In this case of religion there is little point in trying to convince someone of a particular religion if they have not yet decided whether god is or is not a reasonable venture. Furthermore, I dispute the ‘believe or not believe’ essential quality or interpretation of many religious views. Certainly the search for truth must be a coherent and reasonable thing.


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