What do you take from or understand by the following statement from the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard:
If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. If I wish to preserve myself in faith I must constantly be intent upon holding fast the objective uncertainty, so as to remain out upon the deep, over seventy thousand fathoms of water, still preserving my faith.
My thoughts are muddled but:
As I take it, it's a very interesting perspective on faith and I wonder how believers at large relate to it. I’m not particularly familiar with Kierkegaard beyond a decent overview but I think a key idea of his concerned “subjective truth” which I guess is one of the things that relates him to later Existentialism. It seems he is saying that the objectivity of a religious “truth” is irrelevant but it is my relationship in contemplation of the statement that matters. Not whether Christianity is true in social discourse but whether it is true for me as an affirmation of an unknowable. I don’t understand it, nor can I, but I embrace it rather than recoil from it.
At this point I think of this as a kind of “base faith”, the fundamental contemplation between subject/object, man/world. Whether we call the world: reality or god, it’s all the same because it’s not the world understood as its constituent parts but the living experience of it in any given moment. And of course in this sense the faith act in Kierkegaardian terms seems to be of existential importance as an act of unification between those poles. But something happens which is that this “base faith” is nearly always encased in the (communicated) details, whether that is Jesus Christ resurrecting or what have you. But for Kierkegaard it seems that these details are treated no differently because religiously speaking: they aren’t objective statements to be discussed but points of origin for the “leap of faith” which is utterly personal.
So you have these two threads linking faith, irrationality and subjectivity on the one hand and knowledge, rationality and discourse on the other. Looking at the statement again, “wish to preserve myself in faith”, “holding fast the objective uncertainty
”. Therefore for the faith act to be genuine it must constantly be weighed against ongoing objective knowledge about the statements and the world at large. That leads me to wonder about two ideas of faith, 1) believing what you cannot know and 2) believing what you know isn’t so. I’m not sure whether this distinction is meaningful or how it relates to Kierkegaard.
From what I’ve understood and in spite of the uncertainty element I suspect the greater the absurdity, the greater the leap of faith, the greater the religiousity for Kierkegaard (see his knight of faith/princess example). I don’t know though. It just seems a big difference to believe in something one cannot know and believing in something that seems to fly in the face of knowledge. This is very problematic for me especially in light of when this is all displaced into the social arena surrounding current issues so it’d be interesting to hear how people balance knowledge and faith and how if at all the two relate for people.
Appreciate any thoughts!