My article, Where I'm At, met with some interesting comments and questions. Most notably, one respondant, Nick, has expressed curiosity about my religio-spiritual developments. Nick makes note that,
"I'm mostly interested in where you are at, what you believe about religio-spiritual matters that are important to you, what ideas you are newly exploring, that sort of stuff."
I think that's a fair expectation for conversation, so what follows is some of the stuff I've been trying to work through in the past while.
First, I've been trying to figure out just what criteria legitimize the scholars. It's one thing to suggest that so-and-so is the foremost scholar in a certain field. It's another thing to realize that unless you are experiencing the physical data of the empirical sciences, all scholars are simply telling a story. And they're telling that story through a certain lense. Does that invalidate, or illegitimize their narratives? Certainly not. But it does bring into question the relational capacity of truth-telling.
That is, how does one determine the truth of another's claim? We could formally parse logic for a while. That sounds like fun. Kind of. But in the end, structuring another's claims along our own limited understanding and experience, and then charging bravely along the line of linear rationality commits a grievous fallacy: it assumes an objectivity that doesn't actually exist. What we think we know, we only know on our own. Other people may agree, but none of us actually have another's experience with the information being presented. Truth claims have no co-inherence from one person to the next; that is, there is no kindred connection, no 'fellowship' of knowing, if you will.
I'd be happy to be wrong about this, but I see no way around it without actually parsing the formal logic of the problem, and thereby dedicating one's self to the same problem while trying to solve it. And that's the problem with circles: if they're not broken, they just keeping going round and round, round and round.
Second, if truth-claims are non-relational, it would seem a person has to terminate on radical skepticism, or faith. But from where I sit right now, radical skepticism seems rather juvenile: there's no way to support such a view since it calls itself into question, and is thus self-defeating. Faith seems both noble and novel: noble because it means that a person is willing to trust even though they might not 'know' with any measure of certainty; novel because it provides a convenient excuse to abdicate one's responsibility to pursue knowledge, all the while looking pious and moral in the process.
Given these two things -- that truth seems non-relational, and skepticism and faith don't offer helpful answers -- how is a person to trust that anything they are exposed to in scholarship is actual, and/or beneficial? We can go the pragmatic route and suggest that 'whatever answers the most questions with the least amount of problems left over' seems trustworthy, but that fails to recognize itself as a useful tool. In a sense, it's like utilitarianism: how does one determine what is morally good for the most amount of people? And what is 'good' in a pragmatic scheme? In the same way, how does one determine what removes the most amount of problems while answering the most amount of questions? If we're all coming at a situation or issue (say, like, theodicy) with individual minds and experiences, it would make sense to suggest that all answers are questions marked by a period.
The Principle of Parsimony seems to fail, too: it doesn't take itself into account.
So, given that truth-claims aren't relational -- that is, they don't straddle the divide between your personhood and mine -- they can't be believed by virtue of another's authority on a subject, they don't terminate on skepticism, are not made relational by 'faith', can't be experienced mutually via pragmatism, and seem to transcend Occam's razor, what is left?
Nihilism is plain stupid. Existentialism is short-sighted.
So, where am I at, Nick? I don't know.