Friday, May 04, 2007

Andrew Sullivan's Emotional Response

Closing the dialog between himself and Sam Harris, Andrew Sullivan desperately tries to cram in every last one of the hundreds of god proofs, talking past Sam and the audience in the process. It's pitiful when it's not just nasty:

Convinced that the choice is solely between fundamentalism and atheism, the vast majority of believers will then be trapped perforce in the fundamentalist camp. Given the ubiquity of faith, given the absence of any civilization in human history that has been free of it, given the evolutionary and biological inclination toward faith, given the respect that a man even as rational as Einstein paid to the "veneration" of the force beyond all of us, your project is absurdly utopian. And like many utopians, you may, I fear, be making hell on earth more likely.

Are you threatening me? I'm pretty sure it's Sullivan's religion that promises both "utopia" and "hell on earth" in its Book of Revelation.

But when we reach the end, I see the problem. He has acknowledged that reason, knowledge, and intellect belong to human beings, but has excluded our capacity for emotion, hope, and love as something external and supernatural:

That self-giving, that risk of peace, that work of conciliation is the calling of our time. You hear it; and your work is an honest attempt to right what is wrong. But I do not believe that we can think ourselves into peace by reason; we can only work every day toward achieving it through love. That is what Jesus taught us before he taught us anything else. Be not afraid. Love one another. Peace be with you.

You may wonder why my faith endures. My answer is: because it is true and because, now especially, it must.

So if we can't "think ourselves into peace by reason", perhaps you should try feeling yourself into peace by your emotions. That doesn't require religion, nor does it prove god. It proves that there is a poetic, loving, dreaming dimension to being a human being that requires nothing more than being born into this world. Science doesn't discount it. It demands that we be dreamers and ask big questions so that we can use our minds to pursue big answers. Maybe Jesus was just another dreamer who had the misfortune of being mistaken for a god.