To Dream It Up Again

“And you begin to lean against some longing till it shifts.”1

Few people set out to be professional doubters. The most famous Western example is Descartes, who resolved to question everything he thought he knew. He arrived at one indisputable truth: Cogito, ergo sum—“I think, therefore I am.” In the method he devised for learning, humility was central, along with the tolerant observation of others and a reliance on personal experience over the theories of theologians and philosophers.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11258
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Thanks Barry, for your many interesting and reflective columns. I hope that we will hear from you again.

When I was a student at the University of Calgary, in one of my classes, while studying/reading of the growing separation of truths of faith from truths of reason in the 17th century, I wrote a paper titled “Que Sais-Je?”. In it, I compared the philosophy of Pascal (Pensées ) with that of Descartes (Discourse on the Method) with regard to systematic doubt, faith, reason, truth, and God. I don’t have the paper handy but I remember it well and especially Pascal’s ‘thought’ that “reason’s last step is to acknowledge that there are an infinite number of things beyond its understanding.”

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Ah, Pascal and Descartes—two worthy contenders! Pascal is endearingly passionate and yet shows such steely logic. Descartes is deceptively simple and yet so rigorous. But we do come to a point, if we recognize our limits, that we do have limits and from there we may become open to what lies beyond reason. Thanks for your comments.

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Yes, both men with such intuitive and rational brilliance, from Pascal’s calculus and Descarte’s Cartesian co-ordinates to their writings as to how we can have certainty of knowledge and their meditations on God.

“If we submit everything to reason our religion will be left with nothing mysterious or supernatural. If we offend the principles of reason our religion will be absurd and ridiculous . … . ” - Blaise Pascal, Pensées

Thanks, Barriy, for your writing and pointing us/drawing us to what lies beyond reason.

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Thank you for your columns. Your farewell column is very much appreciated. Recognizing the absolute significance of reason as a gift of God and also its limits, giving space and significance to wander and awe is essential to a healthy life. Faith does not contradict reason. It transcends it. The space where this takes place is, like you say, to be kept open by the power of awe at the presence of the Holy Spirit.

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Will miss your writing, always in a thoughtful manner!

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Thank you for your thoughts. What comes to mind at this point in my life: the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certitude. And with that I bid you “Adieu”, but hope to hear from you again.
Thank you again,
Sirje

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Thank you, Herold. You’ve said it so well.

Thank you, Sirje, for your many insights and thoughtful comments through these years. I’ve appreciated your personal reflections as well. Farewell from this particular ground but no doubt our paths will cross again in the future.

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Poetic scientist. Scientific poet. Thank you very much, Barry!
Your column influence(d) my faith process, especially regarding the role of mystery, but also how I navigate through “academic land”. I wish you authentic plus empathic faith travellers as you continue your faith journey.

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Barry, on behalf of all the Spectrum team, I thank you. Through currents of cultural uncertainty, your words, obviously flowing from deep study, provided an anchor and a respite. We are indebted to you for your faithful efforts to sustain our community.

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Thank you, Carmen. Thank you for the opportunity to think and write in the company of this community.

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Even one as great as Moses–classically-educated; charismatic in leadership; brilliant in law and politics; astute in military strategy; cultivated in the arts, gifted in music and poetry; philosophically canny and spiritually sophisticated; mentally savvy in manifold ways (it might sound as though I am writing his resume! though not his CV yet!); urbane and cosmopolitan in manners; moreover, indeed plentifully Spirit-endowed and -inspired: when Moses drawn by curiosity into the scientific paradox of the bush that was burning but not consumed–even he found it necessary here to remove his sandals and bow before the holiness of Supreme Mystery.

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And Nicodemus, wise, knowledgeable, and respected as he was, had to take a refresher course in the profound rudiments of the spiritual life, when he encountered God Himself in the flesh, and the interviewer became the one being interviewed in this divine dialogue.

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Barry, will you continue to support your blog at
Dante’s Woods

And your Sabbath Zoom class:
Believers and Doubters Class, Sligo Church

Both are of great value to many!

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Thank you, Mel, for your interest. Yes, both Danteswoods.com and my involvement with the Believers and Doubters class at Sligo Church will continue. You might also be interested in something that Ray Tetz and I do every Friday night on Facebook—stilladventist. It’s a compilation of poetry, images, excerpts on the spiritual life, and the celebration of beauty of all kinds. It’s been going on every Friday night since June 2015. I’m working on two book projects and a third one with a friend, as well as ghostwriting a memoir for another friend.

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Kate, I couldn’t ask for more than what you wish for me. Thank you, and may you navigate well through “academic land!”

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