Statements of faith

Statements of faith are not intended to be statements about material reality.

Eric Voegelin writing to his friend Hans Schutz on January 1, 1953.

The proposition “God is almighty” combines a transcendent subject (one of which we have no innerwordly experience, only an expe­rience of faith) with an “idealized,” infinitized, innerwordly pred­icate.

The proposition is therefore meaningless if both the subject and the predicate are taken literally; it makes sense only if the predicate is added analogically to the extrapolated subject of the experience of faith.

What the men of the 18th-century Enlighten­ment held against Christian dogmatics (enlightened thinkers are repeating it today), namely, that theological statements–unlike statements concerning sense perception–are meaningless because they cannot be verified, is the very starting point of Christian the­ology.

Eric Voegelin was an Austrian Catholic classicist who fled Hitler -not without reason – during the Anschluss and who taught philosophy for many years in the United States.

If you are speaking of verifiable propositions, you are not speaking of transcendent religious experience,  and on this Dawkins, Hume, Voegelin, Aquinas and I would all be in agreement.

The Wikipedia entry captures this well:

One of Voegelin’s main points in his later work is that a sense of order is conveyed by the experience of transcendence. This transcendence can never be fully defined nor described, though it may be conveyed in symbols. A particular sense of transcendent order serves as a basis for a particular political order. It is in this way that a philosophy of politics becomes a philosophy of consciousness. Insights may become fossilised as dogma. The main aim of the political philosopher is to remain open to the truth of order, and convey this to others.

His New Science of Politics and Science, Politics and Gnosticism will re-organize and inform your thinking about politics and history. They are strongly reccommended to people who try to think about political movements. They will enable you to perceive phenomena like Hitler, Robespierre, Lenin, Rousseau, Baboeuf, Trotsky, and Arun Smith in their proper light.