Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Supernatural religion

I need to say something about my take on religion and the supernatural. If by 'the supernatural' you mean unseen worlds, such as the spirit world, magical powers, astrology, parapsychology then I don't see this as an essential part of the religious view. Indeed I see religion as contaminated by an attachment to it, for most of these I regard as no more as an attempt to escape ordinary human responsibility for what happens in our lives.

But I do think that Simone Weil's distinction between a natural and a supernatural conception of God is important. If we believe in a natural God, the nature of the God we believe in will depend on our earthly fortunes. We will seek to establish a connection, indeed a causal and explanatory connection, between the nature of God and our life-events. If all our goods were stolen, our servants killed, our house and children destroyed, and a natural God, on whom we were causally dependent were responsible, it would not be possible to call such a God good and loving.

It would be difficult to imagine more tragic circumstances than those recounted in the Book of Job. If one attributes goodness to God by an inference from the events of one's life, it is difficult to see how Job could have avoided saying that God is evil. But instead Job asserts the goodness of God.

The faith of Job and Simone Weil is a supernatural faith. For them the meaning of life does not depend on how it goes.

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