I was up late last night watching a documentary that caught my interest. Somebody interviewed contemporary philosophers and gave them ten minutes or so to explain one of their ideas.
Now, I loved studying philosophy in college, but I haven’t read a lick of it since I graduated (unless watching The Matrix counts). I thought the documentary might get me back into the swing of things, but the result was not quite what I expected: I realized that I may have fallen out of love with philosophy (or, at least with a great deal of it).
My personal study of philosophy can be described as a four-year-long desperate clutching-onto of the idea that God exists. I think I’ve always known that if that idea got away from me I’d be done for. My belief that God exists is what gets me out of bed every day, motivates me to be kind to others, take care of myself, and contribute to society. Without my belief in God, I’m certain that I couldn’t find a meaningful purpose in doing any of those things…so I simply wouldn’t do them.
So what was my problem with the documentary? Well, it seems that a great deal of contemporary philosophy is just altogether done with God. Because faith is required to believe in God, and faith is (arguably) non-rational, God doesn’t get to play. So what was the documentary about? It basically amounted to philosopher after philosopher appealing to some kind universal existential reason for getting out of bed every day, being kind to others, taking care of ourselves, and contributing to society.
This just baffles me. If there truly is no God, no existence beyond this life, there is simply 0 reason to think that doing one thing rather than another actually matters in the grand scheme of things! How is it possible to live without belief in God? I know that it is — I’ve seen others do it. I just simply don’t understand it.
Philosophical inquiry is a means to an end. In my life, it is has served its purpose well: it has cemented many of my treasured beliefs and has kicked the ass of many of my beliefs that deserved it. It continues to serve as excellent lyrical inspiration. But I can’t seem to truly re-engage with philosophy. It seems that my battle now is with faith. In retrospect, it probably always has been.
Maybe XKCD has it right.