Thursday, August 14, 2008

Faith and the Great Metaphysical Questions

Throughout his history, thoughful man has posed countless questions, many of which have been reasonably engaged and answered. All such questions dealt with physical realities and were thus manageable by systems of empirical examination.

Other questions have dealt with the metaphysical and were therefore beyond the scope of the scientific method. They could not even be engaged empirically, much less proved or disproved.

Yet mankind has continued to pose and wrestle with these metaphysical questions despite their refusal to be mastered, because he senses their deep importance. He cannot ask the physical questions, much less answer them until he has assumed solutions for the metaphysical questions. He may not have even consciously assumed these answers, but he always has them firmly locked into place before he answers any others. They are foundational to all other query.

A man cannot prove that there is or isn't merit in discussing the metaphysical, but he must decide. This is the first question, and it is a metaphysical one. He must therefore step out in faith on the issue, since it can't be proved. He is free to change his vote at any time, but this will greatly effect how he reasons. This, in fact, proves man's condition as beings of great faith. All men have faith either that the metaphysical is worth exploring or that it is not, but the very act of deciding cannot be influenced by empiricism in any way, for science deals only with the physical and cannot speak even to the existence of anything non-physical. Therefore it is a matter of faith. A faith which he must reason. Reason which is founded upon faith.

If he answers yes to the primary metaphysical question, he must then answer the seven great metaphysical questions. If he answers no, then the answers to all seven are already assumed as a matter of faith in the nonexistence of the metaphysical. Regardless, the answers to the following seven questions have always been a matter of faith to all men, and he will at any given moment hold faithfully and reasonably to an assumed answer regarding each. They are:

1.) What is prime reality?
That is, what is the one thing upon which all other existence depends?

2.) What is the nature of external reality?
That is, what is the essential makeup of all non-prime reality?

3.) What is a human being?
That is, what is intrinsically foundational to humanity?

4.) What is death?
That is, what are the implications of ceasing to live?

5.) What is knowledge?
That is, can we know anything and how and what can we know?

6.) What are good and evil?
That is, what is the standard for morality?

7.) What is the purpose of human history?
That is, does humanity have a narrative and/or a destiny?

postscript - An eighth question has been championed, and I see no reason why not to at least mention it: What is beauty? That is, does pleasure have a proper standard?

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