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Guest post: the exploration is fun, but it leads to an answer

Originally a comment by Eamon Knight on She is too enraptured by the mystery of the divine.

I’ve occasionally found myself caught up (the literal meaning of “enraptured”) in a bit of mathematics or physics, such that I would ponder on it during otherwise mindless moments (like long drives, or when falling asleep at night). And there’s this sense of exploring a mysterious, fascinating territory. Eventually I either figure it out, or write a program to brute-force it, or (these days) consult Google and find that real mathematicians and physicists (ie. people who aren’t me) have already been there and devised tools to describe it. Sometimes I get into a similar mindset when trying to figure out how to do some personal project.

The point is: the exploration is fun, but it leads to an answer — I get an expression, or a number, or the thing gets built, and there’s an esthetic satisfaction to the experience. My “seeking understanding” actually finds something.

Can theology ever say it’s found something out about the Divine? Something that isn’t just a reflection of the theologian’s own mind? Can it ever know that, eg. Paul Tillich was right and Rick Warren is wrong in the way we know that Einstein was right and classical mechanics was wrong, or this bridge design will stay up whereas that one will collapse?

Or do theologians just enjoy being “enraptured” and “seeking understanding” too much to ever spoil it with anything so mundane as, you know, answers?

Comments

  1. Al Dente says

    Enraptured by the divine makes me think of a stoner asking “have you ever looked at your hand?”

  2. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    mindless moments (like long drives)

    As I sd to my
    friend, because I am
    always talking, – John, I

    sd, which was not his
    name, the darkness sur-
    rounds us, what

    can we do against
    it, or else, shall we &
    why not, buy a goddamn big car,

    drive, he sd, for
    christ’s sake, look
    out where yr going.

    Someone else is doing the driving, I hope, using Creeley’s poem as a model: even if you don’t get the right answer, you don’t want torun into or over it while you’re exploring.

  3. says

    Enraptured by the divine makes me think of a stoner asking “have you ever looked at your hand?”

    Al Dente @1: “They call them fingers, but I’ve never seen them fing. Oh wait!”

  4. =8)-DX says

    Can theology ever say it’s found something out about the Divine? Something that isn’t just a reflection of the theologian’s own mind?

    Well I think so – theology has had a lot to say about processes of atonment, the value of forgiveness and compassion, honesty. The main problems with theological answers to problems of ethics and the moral life, is that they all work on this huge assumption of GodAndJesusAndMagicWorks! which colours and distorts any value it might otherwise have. And then it comes up with so many *bad* answers, that it really can’t be trusted.

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