Thursday, 11 March 2010

Hello Darlings...

This week I was wondering about ideological ambivalence. The cultural phenomenon whereby a culture is no longer inclined to make a full commitment to a set of beliefs, whether political, religious or even scientific. It is the culture of 'non-believing' but not of not thinking. In fact we think and know too much now not to doubt everything. We are taught to doubt and think critically in schools. We are wearily cynical of statesman, celebs and even the egg head men in white coats who used to be our culture's priesthood. Maybe it something to do with the gentle osmosis of ideas from Quantum Physics into wider culture, but I think nowadays we are only likely to asign a degree of probability to any truth claim. An example is the difficulty the scientists are having convincing us of global warming despite the hardest of hard sells. We are very ready to seize on some new doubt that has surfaced (or is that just about wanting to preserve our wasteful lifestyles?) However I think most of us are very suspicious of those who insist they are certain. Certainty is not a big cultural goal these days, in fact we think it is not benign at all. Having certainty means we are a lot less inclined to listen, to learn and perhaps, to tolerate.

This is particularly important to me because I believe some religous truth claims are possibly true. I think it is possible there is a God. Though at this moment in time, I think it more probable that there is no God, or at least no God of the Judeao-Christian kind. But I can't help doubting my doubts. Of course this way of thinking one might say, already has a label - 'agnosticism'. But agnosticism has the reputation of 'fence sitting' as if it is 'even stevens' whether God exists or not. In fact most people I know who are agnostics tend against belief - they lean very much one way on the fence. And agnosticism seems to become just another way of being basically irreligious without the certainty required by atheism.
However there are periods (since my fall from grace) when I have been inclined toward believing. Where I think God is probable. Say 70%, though the percentage is arbitrary of course. Thats not irreligious....thats wanting to believe but falling short. Such a form of ambivalence is welcomed neither by those who don't believe nor by believers. You have to understand that I think a believer, by definition, is pretty much certain. I can never be a believer if I am even 5% doubting God's existence. I can't sign up to a faith, say a creed..there is no place for the religiously ambivalent in most churches. And I wonder if one could even have a church or political movement that allowed ambivalence - it would be like a fighting army that wasn't sure of its cause. Pretty much useless - one might think - because for many ambivalence seems to undermine effort and direction. And double minded ness is condemned in Scripture too. Very harshly.

Yet we function just fine for most of our lives with plenty of ambivalence., lubricated by hope and trust. We have ambivalent feelings even about our nearest and dearest. Even love can survive days when we are not sure we want to be loving or are loved. Lets say then three cheers for ambivalence. Ambivalence is a profound thing, natural and good though appropriately enough, I don't quite know why.

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