What does it mean to exist?
Here are some deep thought to consider on this cold, dreary day.
It's all about your existence.
Determining the difference between human beings and other forms of life is an antiquated quest. Humans have always been aware of some basic distinction between themselves and all other forms of life, but defining that disparity has proven to be controversial. What does it mean to exist? One of the defining qualities of humankind is its awareness of its own existence.
It is difficult to allocate what role experience, that is the human’s consciousness of its own existence, plays into theological reflection and doctrinal formation. Martin Luther declared that “experience makes a theologian,” but for many, the essence of religion is a mere facade of the human’s ability to transpose his consciousness to some higher subjective being. For others such as Karl Barth, God is above us, time and space, and all concepts and opinions. For Barth, God has exclusive separation from human beings and entirely divorces the concept of God and human experience.
Despite criticism, Friedrich Schleiermacher maintained his belief that human experience was the starting point for Christian theology. In fact, Schleiermacher believed that by exploring the nature and origin of what he labeled as “feeling,” it was possible to trace it back to its origins with God.
Schleiermacher is arguing against religion as mere ‘knowing,’ which would categorize the rational approach of doctrinal orthodoxy, and would fall within the realm of speculative theology. Nor is religion simply ‘doing,’ which is a critique of religion-as-morality, natural religion and behaviors associated with Pietism. For Schleiermacher, religion falls within the realm of feelings, making it an interior, personal experience with an element of the unknowable and the mysterious.
What is your experience when in comes to rationalizing and relating with God? Have humans constructed their own gods and religions, which embody their own idealized conception of their aspirations, needs, and fears? Is God too omnipresent and omnipotent for humankind to even rationalize? Or, is God something that can be best understood by what we can feel?
What is the essence of existence to you?