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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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11. A Nihilism of Grace: Life, Death, and Resurrection

John D. Caputo Indiana University Press ePub

 

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.
But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.”
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Martha said to him,
“I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”

JOHN 11:21–24    

I return now to the hard hypothesis, that life is a passing feature of the universe, an interim phenomenon, not an ultimate or permanent part of the cosmic furnishings. An ineluctable fate lies in store for us—terrestrial, solar, galactic, and universal death in entropic disintegration, that point when there is no chiasm or poetics, no life or religion. What then of God, perhaps?

To this end we can do no better than to return to the cold, disenchanted, demythologized, disappointing, reductionistic, realistic, rationalistic world view of one of the critics of continental philosophy, best encapsulated in all of its apocalyptic fury in the brassy materialistic brio and bravado of Brassier's Nihil Unbound. Let us unbind nihilism and let it all hang out. Let us expose ourselves to the terrible trauma of the real, our heads bloodied but unbowed by the degree zero of being-nothing, which boils away both substance and subject, art, religion, and philosophy, bios and zoë, physis and techne, dissipating everything fideistic and correlational. Let us leave behind the luxurious plenitude and lush planes of the Lebenswelt for the thermal equilibrium of entropy unbound, where being-in-itself is nothing-for-us, nothing to us, and we nothing to it. What is being degree zero to me or I to it that I should weep for being-nothing?1

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5. Two Types of Continental Philosophy of Religion

John D. Caputo Indiana University Press ePub

 

 

Kierkegaard's Johannes Climacus reports the case of one Dr. Hjortespring, who was converted to Hegelianism by a miracle on Easter morning at the Hotel Streit in Hamburg.1 My own story is not as dramatic. Still, if truth be told, in the present work I fear I will shock my friends by declaring myself a born-again Hegelian, and this in order to distinguish myself from the Kantians. My reasoning is as follows. The event is an event of truth. The insistence of the event may also be called its insistent “truth.” The “democracy to come” means the truth that insists on coming (true) in democracy, that is trying to come (true) as democracy. Just so, the name of God is the name of an event that is trying to come true in and under that name. It is at this point—truth—that I call upon the approach to religion and religious truth taken by Hegel, who is, by my lights, the father or (if Tillich is the father) the grandfather of radical theology and the predecessor of the new species of theologians for which I am calling. Hegel offers a new analysis of Christian theology and a new paradigm for the philosophy of religion by formulating a new idea of religious truth that constitutes for me a predecessor form of the theology of “perhaps” and consequently of theopoetics.

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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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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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