Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Secularization of Original Sin

The Secularization of Original Sin: In Section 38 of Being and Time (1927), German existentialist philosopher Martin Heidegger offers a secularized version of the Christian doctrine of Original Sin. Just as the birth of every Christian is fundamentally marked by sin, so to is the birth of every human being. Yet sin is not the term used to describe this affliction, since it is religiously loaded. For the most part, Heidegger asserts that man finds himself "thrown" into his worldly existence and that his subsequent life is "entangled" in a number of predetermined features like race, class, and gender. The two German terms Heidegger uses in his writing are Verfallenheit (Entanglement) and Geworfenheit (Throwness). Both terms are related to the basic element of chaos (non-existence) that constantly hangs over every human life. And it is precisely this notion of chaos which pushes man into a state of anxiety (Die Anfechtung) over his seemingly finite, fragile, and solitary existence in the world. For Christians, however, the sacrament of Baptism is the manner through which this Original Sin is wiped clean. Even so, Heidegger claims that man can never fully eliminate the affliction of anxiety in his life, especially since it constitutes an elemental aspect of being-in-the-world. In short, man is always on the verge of non-existence, and therefore, he will consistently find anxiety waiting to consume his everyday state-of-being.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Either Faith or Reason or Both?

Either Faith or Reason or Both?: It would seem, at least on the surface, that faith and reason are two fundamentally incompatible concepts. Faith begins precisely where speaking ends. And if the spoken word is one of the major signals of reason, then it would appear that faith constitutes a diametrically opposing idea to reason. In fact, faith is often viewed as a primary tenet of the irrational side to the human experience. Aside from speaking, faith also begins where thinking ends. In effect, the mind has to shut out all possibilities of the "other" in order to engage fully in the process of faith. Defining the "other" is important insofar as it relates to faith. Basically, the "other" is anything that seeks to attack, disprove, or unravel faith. Scientific proofs and other forms of hard data are the common ways that humans attempt to shake and test faith. For this reason, it is rather simple to see the rise of science and technology as a potential barrier to building and growing one's faith. And if what French mathematician and Catholic apologist Blaise Pascal says is correct, then God is "infinitely incomprehensible," and therefore, Christians cannot rationally defend and/or explain their faith.