What are you left with in the end?

A chat I had with my brother, relating to my on again, off again epistemological crisis (edited to fix double posts and chronological problems caused by online lag):

Marc: Moses and Elijah and all those old guys apparently had an unfair advantage.

andrew: why

Marc: Because God spoke to them…or so it says in the OT…

andrew: right. but who says their experience was any different from ours – they just interpreted it as God whereas we may say it’s depression or science or bad digestion…

Marc: stupid post-enlightenment thinking. Everything needs a rational explanation.

andrew: ?

Marc: Whereas they would have put a divine spin on things, we explain things away rationally or scientifically. Probably why you hear more about miracles in Africa than in the western countries.

andrew: so no way of knowing which is better

Marc: I suppose.

andrew: all different shades of the same colour

Marc: Is it?

andrew: isn’t it?

Marc: I suppose if God’s behind it all…But if you explain it away scientifically or rationally without giving props to the Almighty, then the Almighty becomes less necessary…

andrew: that’s just God-of-the-gaps. Who says God isn’t in and behind all of it – science and rationality too?

Marc: Well, nobody, I suppose. Except maybe Michael Hitchens and Richard Dawkins.

andrew: blowhard fundamentalists.

Marc: indeed. is it possible to not be a fundamentalist, though? what about fundamentalist anti-fundamentalists? That’s the problem with postmodernism: it can always pick itself apart, leaving nothing much.

andrew: and that’s ok – at its best, postmodernism or deconconstruction is epistemic humility.

Marc: But what are you left with in the end?

andrew: you mean?

Marc: what is left once everything is decontructed, at least in terms of meaning and value?

andrew: love. it’s undeconstructable.

Marc: Wow. That’s a very beautiful answer.

andrew: it’s not an original thought though – Derrida* and Caputo** talk about love as the undeconstructable

*Jacques Derrida: the “father” of Deconstruction.
**John Caputo

9 thoughts on “What are you left with in the end?

  1. Simon

    Wicked. (Or, on Endor, that would be “wicket!”)

    I have nothing to add except that was a great conversation to have been able to listen in on.

  2. Marc

    It is a wonderful thing indeed.

    With 5 years between us, though, the growing up years unfortunately were not spent in philosophical discussion: those years had a lot of silence in them, as is the way it goes sometimes with such an age difference.

  3. Don Hendricks

    That’s some deep conversation. I continue to believe God’s speaking to Moses was not indigestion. That in these last days, ie. Days of the New Covenant, He spoke through His Son, and the inner whisperings of the Holy Spirit, not audible, are also not indigestion, and the word I hear constantly, in spite of the outside worlds mess, is “God is Love”.

  4. Toni

    I should have thought love eminently de-constructible from a post-modern POV? Just a bunch of hormone and genetically driven acts and desires to keep the human race reproducing and rubbing along together.


    Re hearing or not hearing God, I think that you’ve got something about our desire to explain away Him interacting with us as background noise and circumstance. And learning to listen isn’t either obvious or satisfying to the rational mind.

    But I feel your pain over the ‘why doesn’t God….’ factor. I have a very distressingly sick mother, who is a strong christian, full of faith and the Spirit. We’ve prayed, fasted, anointed, cried and asked God why not fix her, but she’s neither got well nor died. The only reasonable explanation I can give is that God views it more important she suffer in this way than she get better. It also begs the question, should He grant every wish we have, even if they are good?

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