Quench: satisfy one’s thirst
Sate: satisfy (a desire or an appetite) to the full
It is true that most people accept the beliefs of their community but there are more than enough people who do not to make this general rule meaningless. Look at Christianity and how it moved across the world compared with say the beliefs of Polynesians. Or for that matter Islam or Buddhism. Religion as a secular concept answers a person’s inner needs. Think of it this way, everyone gets thirsty and thus need to have thirst *quenched, water is the most omnipresent (drink around, but not everyone needs to drink water in order to be merely *quench their thirst; you can drink wine, or soda, or juice, etc. BUT. And this is important, only water exists in a pure form as part of our natural environment. What’s more water is a foundation component of human biology. We are made of water and designed to run on water as if it were a fuel.
Spiritual emptiness is like thirst. When it gets hold of you no amount of “science” or rationale will *sate that thirst. So people turn to things that *quench their thirst only. Now, different people can *quench that thirst in different ways, drinking from the Christian gospel, or from the Tao, or from Sufi meditation or twirling or yoga, or what have you. These all serve to *quench thirst to some degree. But never all the way because these are all substitutes for the substance that is both natural and that we are made of to begin with, namely water.
For this same reason the idea that multiple gods can be true is logically absurd. Because all people come from the same source and are made of the same stuff and ultimately have the same core values and same core desires and motivations. Polytheism is then akin to a soda fountain, filled with sugary drinks that are appealing because they cater to a specific desire, but never actually and fully address the core need, which is spiritual thirst. They *quench but never fully *sate our thirst.
What can fulfill or *sate that core need? Only a single substance, one that occurs naturally, and that we are made up of, so we come back to water. Which by the way is why the Bible so often uses water imagery, from rivers to wells to describe exactly what I am saying here. But of course many other religions use similar imagery so we are left with this conundrum…
There is either a single agent by which our thirst can be *sated, or there are other agents that can at best only *quench our desires but never fully *sate our needs which is the same as to say there are no agents that fully*sate those needs.
Why do I accept the single source as opposed to no source or many sources? Simply because the thirst is very real. People may desire a thing that doesn’t exist, they may long for something that has never been seen, they might seek to become something they are not but a person will never actually suffer a thirst for something that they do not need in order to survive. An alcohol longs for a drink but does not need to drink alcohol. A drug addict seeks for a new, stronger drug but doesn’t need the drug. What’s more the alcoholic and drug addict are not made of alcohol or drugs. They are made of water and thus need water to survive, they need the single source that is both external and at the same time part of what they already are. That is what thirst is, both physical and spiritual thirst, needing to be refilled with a substance that is already a part of you but that for some reason has been depleted or displaced.
That is why I reject polytheism and embrace monotheism. But why do I accept God and not some other monotheistic deity? Two reasons, the first is personal. I simply find my thirst quenched through that particular source of water and not through any other source. I find many other substances to be sweet but none nourishing. The second reason is more complicated, but in a nutshell it is this. I call it the man in the desert motif… I have never run across a Hindu who fell to his knees desperately seeking communion with Kali. Nor have I ever encountered a Buddhist who passionately sought after comfort in the abstract ideal of that philosophy. Does this mean none exist? I won’t say that but in the end all people are motivated by the personal and not the abstract. We are creatures of community and so we sometimes must look for answers in communion with other people.
And that brings me to why I reject atheism…
Atheism is in a sense a form of polytheism, one that rather than claim many or all gods are valid instead makes the claim that no god is valid. This is an absolutist stance that demands two things…
1: That atheists have the only truth (which to be fair is a claim that is made by Christians)
2: That any personal experience that contradicts that absolutist atheistic truth must be rejected. In effect saying that your direct personal experience is invalid because I happen not to have shared in it.
Why can I so easily reject atheism? Because even though as a Christian I believe in a very particular idea about God, I value the beliefs of other people for what they are, attempts at alleviating their thirst. Though we share the same need, which is the source of that thirst, we seek alleviate in different ways. I happen to believe that through my religion people are &sated, while other religions people are only *quenched. But atheists rather than respect the thirst of another person, rejects that the other person has a thirst at all or if he does accept that thirst in someone else he ignores the value of having that thirst *sated, let alone *quenched. Now an atheist will argue that he is simply liberating other people from a false thirst, or perhaps will offer something entirely artificial and completely external as a substitute for a natural substance, i.e. science or pure rationalism. But in the end both of these are mere methods to diminish the value of the other person, and to minimize that other person’s thirst.
In this way atheism, though it claims to rooted in humanism is in fact very anti-humanist in its very structure. This is also why purely socialist forms of government MUST by default be atheist, because no individual experience or belief can ever be allowed to override the larger, subscribed truth. In other words, no individual thirst can ever be allowed to be *sated from an un-approved well. The old phrase religion is the opiate of the masses is in fact misaligned because atheism is the real opiate of the masses. It dulls the atheist’s senses towards the experience of his fellow man and sets his own experience as an absolute and not subjective reality. The difference is this… A Christian has an absolute reality that finds common ground in subjective experience, even the experiences of other faiths. That subtle difference is what matters most.
So I and billions of others around the world and throughout history share in the belief in a single God, Jew, Muslim and Christians and in that, though fundamentally different in doctrine, we are all brothers and sisters in a shared core faith making doctrinal issues less about religion and more akin to family squabbles from a very dysfunctional family. With those who subscribe to polytheism or indeed even agnosticism, akin to very distant cousins. Atheists on the other hand, being required to have a commitment to an absolute reality that does not allow for subjective experience is like unto a whole other species of man with no familial relation at all.
Now I will close by saying this. Every atheist on this forum will no doubt attack everything I have said, and probably do so at a very personal level, ignoring the fact that I have said nothing intrinsically negative about anyone’s expressed beliefs. Why will they do this? Because like I said, atheism is a philosophical stricture that demands absolutism to a single system and that must reject out of hand any subjective experience, i.e. the divine or supernatural is not real because I do have not experience the divine or supernatural.
And to be fair, there will no doubt be some Christians and maybe a Muslim or Jew or some other religious person here or there that will disagree with me because I dared to claim that we are all brothers and sisters in the same core faith. To you I say this… Before there was an Islam, before there was Christianity there was God as revealed to and through the Jews and before that revelation there was only people on different spiritual journeys listing to a source they did not fully understand, one that none of us fully understand. That is the core of our three shared faiths and of faith in general. I would suggest that rather than argue about the veracity of the core faith we would be better off confining the argument closer to home. I said above that this is like a family squabble and so it is. I now suggest that the key differences, while of tremendous, earth shattering importance amount to this, who is the right earthly representative, is it Jesus Christ, or Mohamed or is it a still pending Judaic Messiah? All that amounts to three brothers gathered at family table arguing over the father’s last will and testament. They each know that two brothers are illegitimate bastards, all three make their cases but the proofs of their claims rest on their claims themselves. The danger in this is that while only one brother can win out in the end and the other two must lose, if the argument is not kept constructive then all three brothers will end up killing themselves and their respective families but if things are kept constructive then there is at least a chance at reconciliation. And this brings me to my last point. As a Christian I am called to evangelize. It is part and parcel of the whole package, my marching orders you might say. But too often we lose sight of the reason for this by calling on salvation, without really understanding what that actually means. To be saved, to have salvation is nothing less than to be reconciled to God, and to be reconciled to God means to be taken back to that moment when there was no barrier between us and Him. So while many in overzealousness will offend I call on the person so offended to remember that what is happening is not a deliberate attempt to cause offence but an misplaced eagerness to offer reconciliation, or to put it this way, to pick up important items that have been falling out of your bag as you walk down the street and reconcile them to where they belong.
In this I know the core truth of my faith, I know that faiths limitations and though I know the limitations I find no weakness in them, but a firmer more resolved strength.