Longtime readers of this blog know that I am fascinated by the atheist critique of Christianity. Sometimes that gets directed at me specifically, as in this comment — by a skeptic who posted several comments here at the Website of Unknowing, and then made the following observation about this blog on the Darkness Forum:
One of the things that bothers me about this blog and many others is that there is no real discourse between spiritualism and scepticism. Many of these people are deluding themselves by believing they’re looking at both sides of a coin when in truth they cannot do so. It’s possible to entertain a new ideology on top of your own but not if that ideology cancels yours out…Else you destroy your own original ideology by doing so. I’ve never destroyed my atheism by thinking about the world in religious terms but I find very few ‘believers’ capable of thinking about the world genuinely as an atheist would. This would risk too much. This is exactly why it is all important that people are open and free with their views or else you get no communication between theosophical groups. Just as with ethnic divisions this is a dangerous situation that promotes conflict.
Well, this is interesting. I’m not sure how possible it is for anyone — believer or skeptic — to truly and completely adopt the viewpoint of another. In other words, I am skeptical of this man’s skepticism. I think he is probably as locked into his ideology as I am locked into mine.
He appears to recoil at the thought of one ideology “destroying” another. But isn’t that part of what metanoia is all about? Of course, true metanoia goes far beyond substituting one ideology for another: it is the adoption of an entirely new level of consciousness, where not only things look different, but truly the cosmos is experienced in a new way. But unless one has actually undergone such metanoia (what in Philippians 2 is referred to as letting the mind of Christ be in you), then this will strike the observer as only so much gibberish.
One thing I am fairly confident of, is that my non-believing critic appears to have no knowledge or appreciation of the fact that the Christian mystical tradition is by its very nature deeply agnostic — it is the spirituality of darkness and unknowing. It is what I have elsewhere called Holy Agnosis, to contrast Christian mysticism from its most ancient counterfeit, gnosticism. What I think most atheist agnostics forget is that there is a beautiful tradition of Christian agnosticism, where instead of saying “I don’t know, therefore I don’t believe,” one can say “I don’t know, and yet I still devote my life to love and praise.” Beyond that, I suspect we must only judge the trees by the fruit they bear.
Finally, one nitpick: I am neither an spiritualist nor a theosophist. I do hope this skeptic will do his homework in the future!