Struggle with conviction. I rarely feel something so strongly to be true that it consumes my identity. Because of this I have developed a false self confidence of sorts. A voice in my head that tells me I am Justified and correct when I finally do reach some level of conviction. I think the logic at work here is that if I am not easily convicted then I must only be convicted by something extraordinarily convincing. I say false confidence, but the truth is I trust this intuition and allow it to guide my actions regarding the “big” questions.
Since most of my strongly held beliefs have oaken a long time to form I am not ashamed to hold them once they reach maturity. I think this is a good thing. Another part of the way my mind works is that my convictions are subject to change. I think this is also a good thing. It feels to me that the Truth is never going to reveal itself to me as a whole so to get closer to the Truth my views should constantly be changing and adapting as more and more of the unreachable is revealed to me. Truth, I would say at this point in my life, is not entirely obtainable.
However, I would also qualify this statement and say that it is every bit worth searching for. Which brings me to my main point. I do not write this to make an argument for why Truth is worth the search, that would be another topic I’d love to tackle and might at some point. No, I write this to explain primarily to myself where I am right now as far as my convictions and where those convictions are going to and coming from. Most recently I’d say I was convicted of very little in the realm of God and the divine. I was truly an agnostic. On some days I would lean a little towards deism and others atheism.
However, I did not feel convicted by theism (at least the idea of a personal or elation God). This conviction is what I will call backlash; it is a semi-extreme reaction to my church-laden youth. If I was not so timid when it came to being convicted as I mentioned previously I may have easily swung fully to the perspective of New Atheism, rather I stayed comfortably in the belief that I could not know Truth (because it most likely didn’t exist), but could transcend my mind to some higher level of existence by my own volition and will power.
I think this idea came from a bit of Nietzsche that I read on his “Three Metamorphoses”. I could so easily relate to the ramification from camel to lion (as this is the transformation I had recently experienced in my spiritual life; from casual believer to convicted believer) that I assumed I would one day transcend to the child and gain a renewed innocence that allowed me to be entirely autonomous and perfect. I was no longer a lion, but most certainly not a child. I lay instead in a state of debilitating flux and confusion.
I thought I was on the cusp of something magnificent, some revelation was about to occur! Only, it never did, I am still stuck in that in-between phase; no longer a lion, UT certainly not a child and no more aware of how to become a child then ever. In the past few weeks I have slowly started to emerge from this stage of my conviction into a new one. I am no longer convicted that Truth is something I will never know or is nonexistent. I now believe that there must be some form of Truth, some level of try to attempt why my convictions have taken that turn.
The ironic thing is that some of the explanations behind my convictions sound shallow and lacking; they are arguments I no doubt would have denied as reasonable only a few months back, yet now am turning to and accepting. First off I cannot accept that all of existence is a matter of coincidence. The more I learn about the cosmos the more I am certain that there has to be some level of intelligence behind the process. It is unfathomable to me at this stage that all of existence can be reduced to scientific theory or empirical data.
There is an element to the universe that is beyond the potential of science and that is the question of “Why? “. I see how science has done and will continue to do an excellent Job of answering the “How? ” questions, how certain processes work, how the universe has plopped and grown, but I do not see how science will ever be able to explain why these processes exist and why the universe is so precisely tuned to allow for intelligent life like humanity to exist.
Like I said, this argument can certainly sound weak and I acknowledge that. However, I am simultaneously convicted that there must be a certain amount of Truth at play in the argument. As I sit an type this seemingly meaningless paper in my room I am struck by the vastness and emptiness of a purely empirical universe and I am terrified by the possibility that my existence ay not even make a difference in the grand scheme of things; because if this is simply an empirical universe there is no grand scheme.
There is no purpose other than preservation of the human species. I cannot accept that preservation of my species is my only purpose as a human. I have other longings other desires for myself than to Just reproduce and increase the efficiency of survival for future generations. I have deep deep desires that are at the core of my humanity and my essence. I understand that most maybe even all of these desires may be given some illogical explanation and reduced to the empirical.
I know this, but at the same time the truth of that doesn’t sway my conviction that the universe is not simply empirical. I believe there is another layer to the universe, perhaps we could call it the spiritual. I am a physical being because I reside in a physical world, therefore it should come as no surprise that all of my desires have physical explanations. The problem is not to me one of what biological purpose they serve, the problem to me is accepting that they are limited too biological purpose.