A recent paper made me reflect that it is about time, I start a reflection on the divinity of Christ. This is a hard one. It is not hard for me to decide; the harder part consists in philosophizing on the very divinity of Christ to such an extent that it opens up oneself before others. I violate something deeply sacred by subjecting the divinity of Christ to reflection. There is an unfortunate social cost in America about rejecting Christ's divinity, or seeing it as something else. Let me first start with a long history of my beliefs.
Years ago, I was baptized in the Catholic Church. My mother's family had immigrated from Southern Germany. My father's family had been Roman Catholic. As such, I made my first holy communion in the Church. Then, my parents left the church. We did not attend mass regularly, and my family moved to Michigan. I am unsure why my parent's left the Church. My father had worked for GM his entire life, and contract negotiations and labor disputes often stole his attention from many matters in life. Moreover, I simply saw Sunday as one more day to do something with my father, or to play with my friends. Sunday never seemed sacred.
Years later, we lived in Pennsylvania. I had several friends attend a youth group. I joined the youth group at Northminster Presbyterian. My parents were slightly taken aback when I asked to be confirmed in this church, and so they let me decide my own spiritual fate. I joined the Presbyterian church having been baptized and making my first holy communion in the Catholic Church.
One night at the youth group, Northminster brought in a speaker, and the speaker started speaking bad about evolution. We all sat politely, but something in me sparked. I recall with great irritation the distortions of Potassium-Argon dating of volcanic tuft, the distortion of Carbon dating and the distortions inherent in the factual presentation about the science. With fondness, I recall this as my first memory of being Socratic and regard this as the moment that sent me down the philosophical path I have traveled today. I openly questioned his presentation in the company of my peers. I left that night very confused as to how someone might criticize a science without ever really knowing about the mechanisms of that inquiry. That very same year, my science teacher had singled me out and invited me to a science fair on the nearby campus of Grove City College. She said I had a knack for it and might want to go.
Unbeknownst to me, I had rebelled. The Youth Director had privately told me she was not pleased with me. I did not go back for some time. Throughout high school, I became an atheist. I once yelled at a kid for prostyletizing me before home room. I demanded that he should have scientific proof before asking me to assent to the truth of his belief. Instead, I had been reading about Buddhism. I had picked up books by Alan Watts at our local library. I read Thich Nhat Hanh's Living Buddha, Loving Christ. The fascinating thing about Buddhism is that at its root Buddhism is empirical. Buddhists seek to cultivate the same experience of an altered-state of consciousness the founder had achieved, and the long lineage of its tradition repeated the same state over and over. In this way, I thought that Buddhists had repeatably confirmed this altered-state of consciousness like one does with scientific experimentation.
Meanwhile, I had been an art student all throughout high school. I enjoyed photography, water coloring and charcoal drawing. At Edinboro University, I decided on art education as my major, and I spent my freshman year locked away in buildings drawing. In addition, I took Elliot Wreh-Wilson's Introduction to Philosophy, and the question that bothered me was: What is love and where is it? We had just discussed Platonic forms, and I thought that was not a likely solution. We, then, talked about reducing love to its material parts, a neural mechanism perhaps, or a series of cognitive mechanisms that direct an evolutionary adaptive behavior for human pair bonding. Yes, I thought! That's it!
I had left the Presbyterian church, became atheistic, but I wanted something like God to be true. I had worried about the naturalistic reading of love, and then been reading about the mind-body problem. I had read Descartes, and found solace in his arguments. I could have an immortal soul; God existed because I already possessed an idea of perfection, and given that perfection implies existence, God certainly existed. In the same chapter, we started to read about physical explanations of mind, and the week I found solace in Descartes' arguments. This was a shortly lived peace. I recalled with great irritation that I found arguments for materialism more convincing. Descartes could not adequately explain how a nonphysical mind interacted with a physical body.
I would walk at 3 am around campus. I would sit on the bench overlooking "Fake Lake" (a glorified retention pond). Since I was not approaching my art anymore with vigor, I decided to become a philosophy major. This seemed more comfortable given that I would worry about God's existence. I then read Paul Churchland's Engine of Reason, Seat of the Soul. I found it to be a strange but fascinating work. Churchland described in intimate detail how stereoscopic vision works, and lauded the science behind it. He would put in plain language how such science should inform our philosophizing. At this point, I am still persuaded in the materialist arguments.
For other personal reasons, I left Edinboro. I transferred to Slippery Rock University. To this day, they are my alma mater, and my experiences with religion and God would finally culminate in a trajectory they inspired. I am almost done with my dissertation and entering my final year of philosophy graduate school, but given the complexity and fondness of the Rock, I will leave this story unfinished.