Posted by: gebs | April 30, 2010

Two Distinct Mindsets

There are two distinct mindsets of the common psyche.  The first is marked by a general optimism about life and its possibilities, whereas the second tends to be more pessimistic.  The first is the mindset that is open to belief, the mindset of a child who believes that all things can be possible.  The second belongs more so to the rational being, the one of many distinctions and to whom, only some things are possible.  Some people believe that all things can be possible, whereas others see the definition of possible more clearly, and often find it easy to declare some things false or simply impossible.

As believers in Christ and the God of Abraham, we are called to be of the first mindset, the seemingly childish mindset.  Belief in Christ means belief in the impossible.  It means believing in a Supreme Being who is Lord over all things, and to whom all things are possible.  It means believing in a human being who could walk on water, give sight to the blind, and create food for the needy.  It means believing that God can do anything if He so chooses, even bend the so called laws of nature, which are in essence His own creation.  We believe in a Creator God who chooses to share his gift of Love by giving us life.  This is our God.  Any authentic belief in Christ cannot leave some things impossible to God.  We cannot fully have faith in Jesus and not believe in His resurrection for example.  We can believe in a human Historical Jesus, yet this does not constitute faith.  As Kierkegaard recognises, faith requires a leap, perhaps beyond simple belief.  Faith is necessary in order for the human psyche to know that all things are possible.  As children we possess this faith instinctively from birth and the world slowly teaches us otherwise.

As adults we are all guilty of the second mindset.  In other words, we all have limits as to what we believe can be possible, and most of us find it very difficult to believe that human beings can walk on water.  The furthest any of us got to that belief was when St Peter got out of the boat and took a few steps towards Christ on the water, before slowly sinking in doubt.  As children of the rational enlightenment we have all inherited the limitations of pure rationalism.  The buffered self (Charles Taylor) is built on the foundation of humanistic reasoning, which has the power to take control of its circumstances, beyond the trappings of superstition and religion.  We base our beliefs on the facts of pure science, for example, which separate fact from fiction for us.  Only some things are possible in this mindset, and it is purely illogical to suggest something which seems contradictory to the facts which constitute reality for us.  The argued atheist position stems from this second mindset, the one in which only some things are possible.

The mind’s perception of reality, however, is in not a fixed thing.  Reality is the reflection created when all the individuals of the world look into a mirror and the result is one.  We can change the world in as much as it changes us, we can change our own genes through our actions and feelings.  Some scientists believe that the laws of nature hold everything together, and to suggest that a human being could walk on water would mean to defy these laws and hence be impossible.  For the believer, the laws of nature are not the things that hold the world together, but are merely part of the creation made possible by God.  They are created by God and only he knows how they are held together, and he also has control over them.  If He so chooses, he can make the wind blow or the earth shake.  He can alter the laws of gravity for his own purposes, because only he knows their intimate workings.  Science reveals the laws of gravity but it can never have control over them, or explain why they exist beyond a mysterious starting point.  Science is not God, and even though Nietzsche declared that God was dead, it would be a greater error to replace God with Science.  Science is merely a lens into the miracle of creation.  When science becomes god, the possibilities of reality are limited to the material, and the human spirit and its eternal longings are silenced beyond recognition.  Hope is crushed under the weight that no matter how much meaning we try to bring to our life, chaos will always prevail.  Hope is optimism, and it comes from the assurance that tomorrow can be a better day, and that all things are possible.  Hope is ultimately a theological virtue despite being a secularised term.

Science may be able to find a cure for many human illnesses, but a cure for poverty and famine is beyond its reach.  This problem stems from our inability to feel as one with our neighbours and live blindly to the needs of our fellow humans dying in poverty, famine and misery.  Science may give us weapons of atomic proportions to fight our enemies and keep them scared, but it can never provide the formula for peace on Earth.  Again this is a human spiritual problem and not one purely of science.  The answers we are looking for in our life do not come from science.  Science gives us fact, not meaning.  The search for meaning is a spiritual search, and whether or not we reject the idea, it will always incorporate God, and in a sense, the atheistic position only exists because there is something to deny.

There can be no authentic belief in God without a belief in the eternal, or something beyond time and space as we know them.  Everything that exists, even our own life, is more than what it seems.  Belief in God, therefore, requires that we believe in something which is both part and above reality.  Authentic belief is not a position that can be reached purely out of reasoning based on the latest scientific method, but requires a spark of Divine intervention in order for a broader scope of reality to emerge, where it becomes possible for a Creator to exist, and where seemingly impossible things become not so impossible and even possible.  Without this Divine touch it is impossible for the human being to even begin to contemplate how God can be true, a teaching which lies at the very heart of the Catholic understanding of grace.   God plants the seed of faith in our hearts and we are free to do as we wish with it.  We can choose to make the rocky ground of our hearts fertile crescents.  If we choose the path of faith, God will slowly reveal to us His presence in our life, through the many miracles that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.  We will begin to appreciate his power in our life and come to humbly understand that he is indeed Lord of all things and all things are possible for Him, and for us as a result.  Through His self revelation to us we begin to appreciate that walking on water was not the greatest thing he did for us and that nothing is beyond His power.  The message of God in Christ was not about walking on water, but rather the self revelation of Love as the hope and salvation for all humanity.  For a person whose own hope and salvation comes from this God, all things become a possible.

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