2/09/2012 | Share this article: View CommentsPaul So ~
Immanence is the opposite word for transcendence in that transcendence refers to God being beyond this reality, whereas immanence is about God being in this reality. However I want to talk about the duality of Immanence and Transcendence in terms of human values: that immanence involves living life here and now, whereas transcendence is to live life as merely instrumental to the life beyond this world.
I think most of us Ex-Christians are familiar with transcendence, even if we haven’t heard of the word before. Most of us are told what we are suppose to do, and what we are not suppose to do. When we ask why, our parents or pastors will tell us it’s because of God’s will, and that our purpose is for God’s will not for our own. What this suggests is that every command, prohibition, and permission in regards to our will is for the will for someone else who exist beyond this reality. All our actions and livelihood is not in accordance to our interest, but in accordance to something beyond our own interest. Without God, there is no interest or will beyond our own, to direct our will to some transcendent end. Many Christians deem this kind of life meaningless, but Nietzsche, a German Philosopher, argued otherwise.
Nietzsche argued that contrary to what most Christians believe, Christianity is nihilistic because it trivializes every value, pleasure, individual will, and interest in and for this world, for the sake of the values, pleasures, will and interest of someone beyond us. It is the will of the higher being that trivializes our will in order to make our will in conformity to his own will. It restricts the creativity and freedom of our will for the sake of the will of another being. Whenever we act according to our own will apart from the will of a transcendent being, it is called “selfishness”, “sinfulness”, or “blasphemy”. Our will is only for the will of another being who is beyond this world that we love. This world that we love is considered trash, but the world beyond is considered to be a paradise. Anything in this world is to be perceived with contempt. Even if we were to value this world, we should not value it as much as the world beyond this world.
So Christianity is nihilistic because it devalues everything in this world, including our own will, in favor of the will of a being beyond this world. What we will is not important, but what God will is important. But if God does not exist, then all there exist is this world, including our own will. There is no other will out there that trivializes or instrumentalizes our own will. Because there is no will out there to instrumentalize our own will into its own end, our will is our own and we have our own ends. Because there is no will out there to trivialize our will, our will is more important than we previously realize. What we do, what we experience, what we value, and what we desire is more important than ever.
All the success and failures belong to us, and nobody else. Our success is no longer due to someone out there who takes undeserved credit for it. Our failures are no longer measured in respects to the expectation of some being out there. All the success and failures belong to us, and nobody else. Our success is no longer due to someone out there who takes undeserved credit for it. Our failures are no longer measured in respects to the expectation of some being out there. Our failures are measured by our own expectations and our own needs. Our success and failures are also measured in terms of our relationship with our fellow human beings: our family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, countrymen, and eventually humanity as a whole. What we do here is so much more important without God than it is with God, because with God what we do is not important unless what we do is for the sake of God. There are millions of aspirations, desires, love, values, interests, and dreams that we have in contrast to only ten commandments God gives to people; all of these are denied for the sake of ten things God wants people to do, out of millions of equally valid things that people want to do. If we reject the existence of God, all we do is reject ten things God wants us to do (well…most of the ten, since murder, cheating, and stealing are out of the question). By rejecting God’s existence as well as very few of his commandments, we have almost infinite possible things that we can do for our own sake!
So this is my wager here: either we believe in the existence of God, do ten things that gets people to heaven, where we do one thing for eternity (that is to praise God) or we simply shrug off the God-question and return to our life here and now where we have so much things to do with so little time. If God exists, what we do here does not matter; if God does not exist, what we do certainly matters much more than ever. I personally believe that what I do matters, because I aspire to graduate University of Maryland to go to a graduate school in Princeton University to study Philosophy as a PhD so I can teach philosophy as a professor. I aspire to find peace of mind without God, I aspire to meditate and appreciate nature. I aspire to philosophize with myself and my fellow thinkers. None of this is for the glory of God; rather it is for the glory of living here and now in this world where life is a finite speck of eternal gratitude. '
Instead of longing for some kind of reunion with a being “out-there” to be a part of its life, I want to realize that I am already part of Nature, which is much more beautiful, mysterious, harmonious, and gratuitous; I am a node connected to all other nodes in a greater cosmic web without a weaver, for all things are weaved by themselves through the laws of Nature. I am sustained not by the will of God but by the air and food provided by the planet Earth, alongside with people who care for me. I am not subjected to the will of God, but rather I am circumscribed by my environment which is subjected to the laws of Nature. Life here is already sufficient enough for me.