Is there a transcendent reality to our existence? Is belief in such a reality an illusion?
We live in an age where people find it difficult to discuss the supernatural at all. One of the reasons for this is that our words are changing. Definitions are being shorn of their supernatural meanings.
Take, for example, the word “cosmic“. The Merriam-Webster dictionary (online) gives us the following:
Definition of cosmic
1 a : of or relating to the cosmos, the extraterrestrial vastness, or the universe in contrast to the earth alone – cosmic radiation
b : of, relating to, or concerned with abstract spiritual or metaphysical ideas – cosmic wisdom
2 : characterized by greatness especially in extent, intensity, or comprehensiveness – a cosmic thinker – a book of cosmic significance
However, the Bing (search engine) gives us this:
of or relating to the universe or cosmos, especially as distinct from the earth:
synonyms: extraterrestrial · in space · from space
“the song is a masterpiece of cosmic proportions”
Notice the supernatural meaning is stripped from the definition. And it’s happening in other words, too. Some people think “soul” is now a person’s personality or character. The word “mind” is preferred over “psyche” as people accept that there is nothing more inside us than a mechanical brain that responds to external stimuli due to evolutionary conditioning.
For many people there is no God, no heaven or hell, no angels, no spirits at all – just the mud of the earth we are made of. When we die we decay into lifeless molecules and are absorbed back into that same Earth. It’s no wonder that the atomizing of society follows this philosophy of the atomizing of the individual. What point is there to family, religion, community if it all ends in dust? Why should we adhere to bonds between souls when the soul is a figment of the human imagination?
There is no proof we can offer that we will exist beyond death or that there is more to us than our physical bodies. However, there are arguments that point to something beyond this material universe. And this is what we call “faith.” But, it is difficult to hold onto that faith. We may study the best arguments of humanity’s finest philosophers, but the dominate culture of this age rejects these arguments summarily. And yet, isn’t the possibility of life after death appealing? Should it be rejected simply because it can’t be put to scientific analysis?
Faith is fragile – even for those who feel certain that God exists. First, it is hard to maintain faith in a vacuum. Secondly, it may be that whether one believes or not in the supernatural depends on one’s personality and circumstances.
But my point is that whether one is a believer or not, the transcendent is worth spending some time studying and discussing. All references to this (potential) aspect of our existence should not be wiped out of our vocabulary. The difficult truth is that we will not know the truth of our existence until the moment of death. Like Schrödinger’s Cat, we will not know whether the fragile flower of faith is based on reality or not until that moment. It will be the most critical moment of our existence.
So, isn’t it worth spending a little time, while we’re alive, contemplating what our flower looks like?