Monday, August 21, 2017
The posthuman condition urges us to think critically and creatively about who and what we are actually in the process of becoming. Rosi Braidotti - The Posthuman (2015)
For better or for worse I am heading back to the academy, not as an academic but as a (trying to be) humble student. First up to the University of Utrecht’s week-long summer school with Rosi Bradotti on Posthumanist Ethics, starting today - and then, after a week off, to Amsterdam to do a Masters in Theology (Spiritual Care) at the Vrije Universiteit (= Free University - an Australian friend said, ah well at least you don’t have to pay for it! :)
As part of the application process for the Masters you’re supposed to write a letter of motivation. I started writing a note which I abandoned and then I managed to get in without submitting it. For anyone who is interested in why an ageing agnostic/atheist might decide to do a Masters in Theology, the note is here: http://posthumanist.org/geest-geestig-geestelijk.
In the light of this, as well as my flailing ten thousand days/ten thousand things project, I’ve gone back to blot for my blogging needs and I might just see how much of the formal writing requirements of the Masters it is possible to satisfy by submitting an online journal. (When I was running a Masters I would have been delighted if someone had proposed this but I’ll see how I go. Did I say humble student?)
In The Stone, Gary Cutting interviews Daniel Garber, professor of philosophy at Princeton University and he reminds him that he wrote, “Much as I try, much as I may want to, I cannot be a believer.”
“Why can’t you — and why would you want to?” Cutting wants to know.
Garber’s response outlines one particular agnostic’s position gently and eloquently:
I can’t believe because I’m not convinced that it is true that God exists. It is as simple as that. Belief is not voluntary, and there are no (rational) considerations that move me to believe that God exists. In all honesty, I will admit that I don’t have a definitive argument that God doesn’t exist either. Which is to say that I refuse to make the judgment that some make that it is positively irrational to believe in God in an objective sense. But without convincing affirmative reasons to believe, I’m stuck. If others find reasons that convince them, I’m willing to discuss them and consider them. Who knows? There might be a convincing argument out there, or at least one that convinces me. On the other hand, it is easy to see why I might want to believe. I see people around me — often very smart and thoughtful people — who get great comfort from believing that God exists. Why wouldn’t I want to be like them? It’s just that I can’t.
My own position is quite different: Maybe there is something we can believe in which is much more interesting and more useful, than gods? I’m holding out for that.