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10. Facts, Fictions, and Faith: What is Really Real after All?

John D. Caputo Indiana University Press ePub

 

Thus to request the idol-breakers to smash the many mediators of science, in order to reach the real world out there, better and faster, would be a call for barbarism, not for enlightenment. Do we really have to spend another century alternating violently between constructivism and realism, between artificiality and authenticity? Science deserves better than naive worship and naive contempt. Its regime of invisibility is as uplifting as that of religion and art. The subtlety of its traces requires a form of care and attention, a form of spirituality.

BRUNO LATOUR

Having thus redescribed “objectivity” as a way to think about the world in which we live as if we were dead or never born, let us now take a careful look at the words that have sparked the current critique of continental philosophy—Meillassoux's critique of “correlation” and “fideism,” in that order. This criticism has been set in motion by the theological turn, or the return of religion, which is taken to be a regrettable consequence of continental anti-realism. I think there is something to this critique of fideism but it should be put to better purpose. It should be used to get beyond fideism and to come up with a more worthy idea of “faith,” which I characterize in terms of our desire beyond desire, constituting the heart of a heartless world—and the lesson we learn less from a heartfelt Mary than from a hearty Martha.1

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Appendix to Part Two: Newly Discovered Fragments on the Kingdom of God from the Gospel of Miriam

John D. Caputo Indiana University Press ePub

My dear friend Magdalena de la Cruz has recently e-mailed me what she calls “Newly Discovered Fragments on the Kingdom of God from The Gospel of Miriam.” As you may know, Magdalena is quite a prankster and rather an anarchist herself.1 I have no idea about the source or authenticity of these texts, no original manuscript to submit to the experts, and no idea about the reliability of the translator, since all the texts are in English yet purport to be fragments of a missing gospel. This latter point would be, if true, quite astonishing. The English is middling good, so I conclude that the translator is an Anglophone who has mischievously introduced French and Latin into the text. Unless, of course, this is an alteration made by Magdalena herself, which I would not put past her, since her attitude to the niceties of scholarly protocol is, to say the least, rather casual. I pass them along to the reader, now as in the past, as a courtesy to an old friend, but with this proviso: whatever I receive from Magdalena is always very provocative and heterodox and, although these materials are highly supportive of my projects, I cannot dispel my suspicions about their provenance. I reproduce these texts with the admonition that the reader take them for what they are worth and not attribute too much authority to them or their author. Magdalena is a free spirit, to say the least, a very independent creature who makes me feel quite conservative whenever I am in her company, which I confess I enjoy very much, by the way.

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3. The Beautiful Risk of Creation: On Genesis ad literam (Almost)

John D. Caputo Indiana University Press ePub

Twenty-six attempts preceded the present genesis,
all of which were destined to fail.
The world of man has arisen out of the chaotic heart
of the preceding debris; he too is exposed
to the risk of failure, and the return to nothing.
‘Let us hope it works’ (Halway Sheyaamod)
exclaimed God as he created the world,
and this hope, which has accompanied the subsequent history
of the world and mankind, has emphasized
right from the outset that this history is
branded with the mark of radical uncertainty. (Talmud)1

With the mention of the majestic words of Elohim presiding over creation in the opening verse of Genesis, I raise a touchy subject. For truth to tell, while all this talk about a sacred anarchy or the “weak force of God” may have an appeal to a select few party radicals, it is not a proposal likely to win mainstream votes in a general election. So I cannot proceed without first dealing with a problem that threatens to inundate me before my campaign is barely started. For one of the most powerful images in Western literature, one of the most archical ideas in the cultures of the great monotheisms, one of the most memorable verses in world literature for anyone who can read, or who can look up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, undoubtedly the greatest show of sheer force in the history of everything, the most hierarchical, patriarchal exercise of pure omnipotence ever thought up, in comparison with which everything else, biblical miracles included, is small potatoes indeed, is surely the majestic opening verses of Genesis: “In the beginning (en arche), God created heaven and earth.”

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1. God, Perhaps: The Fear of One Small Word

John D. Caputo Indiana University Press ePub

 

“Peut-être—il faut toujours dire peut-être pour…” 1

“See, I am sending you out like sheep
into the midst of wolves;
so be as wise as serpents
and innocent as doves.

                           —MATTHEW 10:16

I dream of learning how to say “perhaps.” I have the same dream, night after night, of a tolle, lege experience, in which I open a book—I cannot make out the title—always to the same sentence, “Peut-être—il faut toujours dire Peut-être pour…” In the morning I cannot remember the rest of the sentence.

I am dreaming of a new species of theologians, of theologians to come, theologians of the “perhaps,” a new society of friends of a dangerous “perhaps.” I would like to think we are, perhaps, already a little like these theologians we see coming and that they will be a little like us.2 But, of course, since we cannot see them coming and do not know what they will be like, we can only call, “come.”

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4. Omnipotence, Unconditionality, and the Weak Force of God

John D. Caputo Indiana University Press ePub

The preceding inquiry into the Genesis narratives was meant to build up our nerve to stick with our thesis about the weak force of God in the face of God’s mightiest feat, creation, which, however exhilarating, is nothing exnihilatory but rather a feat of clay. We should thus have the heart to hold fast to our hypothesis to the end, and not at the last minute reveal that we have had power up our sleeve right from the start. It would be mere cunning to side with the lowly of this world in order to spring a trap on the unwary, who would then be visited by the mighty power of God Almighty, who smites his enemies. The humbling of human power in order to exalt the power of God is a ruse; it uses weakness in a bait-and-switch game, as a lure in order to spring power at the crucial moment. We should have the strength of our convictions and allow our weak theology and anarchic hypothesis to play itself out, to stretch all the way from the world to God, from ta me onta of the world, whom God has deployed to confound the powerful, all the way to God, to what we have been calling the weakness of God.

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