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When I started my journey in the tenets of clinical psychology some two decades ago, I, like many of my cohorts, was pulled by the excitement of the science I loved and its methods of excavating the hidden depths of the unknown. However, in recent years, I cannot help but recognize that the very tenets of the sciences I love have adopted the same dogmatic attitude towards their underlying beliefs common to the absolutes of religion they so vehemently fought some five centuries earlier.
Is there any objectivity left? It is hard to find when the right and the left usurp time-tested and empirically validated methods of inquiry, including those held in religious beliefs, philosophical quandary, and the scientific method to appease the emotional whims of the day. Maybe science’s tenets have run their course, and it’s time to turn back to or form a new foundation that gives hope in something other than materialism in its scientific and capital form. I don’t remember the last time I saw a headline from the news or a social media site where hope was center stage as a method to gain one’s introspective and retrospective time.
A Philosophy with No Grounding Myth
A paradigm shift has occurred. Have we begun an existentially nihilistic descent into the angst of unknown ends? Even the philosopher extraordinaire Friedrich Nietzsche killed God in his treatise on Zarathustra speaking.
God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?— Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Section 125, tr. Walter Kaufmann
So there you have it, stepping into the unknown, we inadvertently killed the creator but must now supplement the ego, the holy self, to take the pulpit of worthiness for the title humanity appears to assume in its quest to claim the most sacred of thrones. But have we forgotten that ego, the capacity to Edge God Out (EGO), stands at the forefront of the myriad of problems we now face? Just look at all the articles and pop psychology posts that so rampantly explore the nature of narcissism in all its varying forms.
What wisdom do you see? What compassion can you point out? Is it lacking or abundant where you are at? As a species attempting to elevate ourselves to an idolatry status, have we created the very hell that we have traditionally used the tenets of religion, philosophy, and even science to keep at bay? As Newton knew, with every bright shining light, an equally dark shadow follows behind. But to what end?
Reengaging Hope and Faith
To reengage hope is to find faith. We are all capable of navigating unknown territories. Yet, stepping into unknown grounds takes courage, grit, and a willingness to assume risk. But that is the battleground where faith arises, not from the practices of standard repetition common to all dogmatic conventions superficially engaged.
Faith is stepping into the unknown. It is succumbing to one’s fate and walking in hand with something more significant than EGO, more significant than we may truly comprehend or be able to explain. We may get lost, but don’t fret. When you find yourself, you will have worked through the tough questions and even more arduous tasks that compelled you to grow in the first place. They are there for your development. You can use or turn your back on them, but ultimately, the choice is always personal.
Will we soon see the call to take steps to reengage faith by stepping into uncharted territories? Even if those territories take us back to classically held traditions such as myths, fairy stories, or tales of belief in what is unknown, can we as a species hone our gift of intellect and spirit to pave new ways into the complex nature of the problems surrounding us? As Martin Luther King, a wise man with the courage to take steps into uncharted and scary territories, said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” What could you do with just one ounce of faith like that?
May many blessings find you, my friends. I hope you enjoyed this short trip into the shadow and light of faith as you advance confidently in the direction of your dreams.
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