Sitting with the Unknowable - root - 2024-01-13 06:07:27

This is a rewrite of a first attempt from memory, so apologies if this is disjointed, I am writing this at 1am. The rewrite kinda veers off from my original point, and becomes more of a journal entry about my own application of some of the ideas in the books that I mention.

I am currently reading both Stanislaw Lem's Solaris and Thomas Merton's Seeds of Contemplation. One of these books is a science fiction novel while the other one is a book on ... well I am honestly not sure to pin it down being only a couple of chapters in. General Christian literature?

These books are not really related, or at least I did not choose them because I expected them to cover similar themes. Solaris deals with humanity coming into contact with extraterrestrial life which, while conscious, is fundamentally different from us in pretty much every way. How do we know the unknowable. How do we perceive it and interact with it. One of the points that the book seems to be getting at so far (I am only halfway through the novel) is that reason and science provide little to no answers, and often raise more questions. Sometimes, it's better to be and exist with that which you cannot know.

In Seeds, so far Merton seems to be getting at the idea that we need to be working towards not always trying to pin God down to our definitions and confine him to a logical framework we can understand, but instead cultivate the ability to be still and contemplate Him. Instead on focusing on "what" he is, we should contemplate and thus gain a greater awareness of Who He is.

This is inherently difficult in our world of constant distraction. One good way to cultivate stillness and make space for times to be open and receptive to what aspects of God's character He wishes to impart to us is to start every morning with a time to pray and potentially read scripture as well. I've done a pretty good job the past couple weeks of reading scripture every day, usually in the mornings, but I am still working on actually using the time to pray and be receptive to what God might actually have for me. I still have a lot of room for improvement.

Community grade: 100% A+

binrc - 2024-01-14 02:53:25

The hypothetical answer to the "how do we communicate with aliens?" always seems to be math "because numbers are universal" except for the fact that we seemingly arbitrarily assign units. I'm skeptical of this answer because we can't even seem to communicate math in metric vs imperial without substantial effort. Maybe the linguists have a better answer. For the God part of the post, we aspire towards God but we must also be receptive towards God. I don't think that we can understand God in any linguistic system because He is ineffable by definition. Matthew 13:10-16, it seems like the receptive portion of faith is sometimes ignored, even now. 100/100 thanks for posting.

camp39 - 2024-03-02 09:42:29

Sounds like Kant and Schopenhauer; "the thing in itself" cannot be known and must, in our terms, be nothing. But it is only a relative nothing. In absolute terms it is whatever it is. Just nothing to us as we can only perceive the phenomena, as created by our own sense interpretations. Which reminds me of a passage from All the King's Men, something like: "I don't know if God and nothing are the same thing. But they sure have a lot in common." The only place where we may be able, not to define, but to know, or at least experience the thing-in-itself, without need of senses is in ourselves. And we find that we are certainly a who and not a what. In such heady topics, paradox is inevitable. The question 'who is God to me?' must be followed with 'Who am I to God?'. And to the world of phenomena, this must be like putting the same question to the void. Which is why all is inside, but more alive. Even if simulation philosophy is true, and we are, say, characters in a painting, unable to perceive the easel or studio, stuck within the canvas dimensions and oil colors... submitting to the hand of the Artist is still the only shot at a beautiful picture.