Wednesday, January 03, 2007

G-d, Religion, Atheism - Textuality

Happy New Year.

I hope that 2007 turns out to be less tumultuous than 2006. Some very good moments – Emily’s birth; some very bad moments – the argument with Becky on Rosh Hashanah; some success – the APMP presidency; and some hope – studying Pirkei Avot with a Chabad rabbi.

I picked up a copy of Richard Dawkins’s The G-d Delusion. It’s a good way to test and define the faith I have been working to cultivate. I won’t give his precise argument – the title of his book does that, anyway. I appreciate the challenge offered by the book, even if the voice reminds me of everything that I associate, negatively, with British intellectualism. A kind of mean-spirited, elitist polemic presented to be wit.

Yet as a result of what I have read so far, I am more and more coming to conclude that, to twist a familiar saying, “The man who believes in G-d’s existence and the man who doesn’t are both right.” Maybe G-d, the One I hope will inhabit the place I am building in my heart, will exist only for me and only in the way I “construct” him. Hence, the “delusion” that Dawkins refers to, the self-reflecting belief, or fiction, that the constructed G-d preceded the constructor and, indeed, had constructed him instead.

But maybe that G-d, in that reality, my reality, exists precisely as He should, as He always has. There is no outside-text. The universe, even the one Dawkins imagines, is a text. It is created and expressed in/through language. The textual, textualized universe depends on the conception of an external creator. This universe only is if it is authored, if it is understood to be authored.

Once the universe, any universe, is understood to be authored or even understood to be understandable, we commune and communicate with transcendence (divinity, if you will) and its intimations. G-d exists, as do each and all of us, in the text(s) we create, review, revisit, revise, erase and supplement. He appears, and moves, through a mirror in and of language; He observes, intervenes in and comments on the quotidian fiction(s) we make from Shabbat to Shabbat.

Neither science nor religion is adequate by itself to explain the universe. It is textuality that provides the necessary language and concepts, the ones that animate the others.

Happy New Year, whatever year you make.