Thursday, February 04, 2010

"Does God Exist?": some thoughts for a young reader

Some time ago, one of our readers, a young man, submitted that he does not believe in God.

A sample of the reasoning our reader offers would contain some of the following observations: God is a crutch - a metaphysical security blanket there for us when we are weak and helpless, or feeling so; mankind have so many names and such contradictory notions about God (or the gods), that it is impossible to take any of them seriously; church services are boring, and best when over quickly.

These are only a few of the objections, to each of which I am tempted to reply at length.

I will resist the temptation, because I would like to take the observations, offered in their original form as objections to the idea that there is a God, and show how each might just as easily (at least) be taken to show that God might exist.

I shall do this, and then conclude with some of my own considerations regarding our reader's situation, which he describes as one in which he has many questions and few, if any answers.

With regard to the first objection, I would urge that, granting the supposition, i.e. that many people turn to "God" when feeling weak and helpless, might be indicative of a sort of innate tendency, which may in turn have been put there by the divine creator of mankind. On its own, the fact does not prove anything, and really cannot be taken in isolation. What about expression, "Thank God!" which is a frequent and seemingly natural reaction to unexpected and/or unexpectedly good news? If we take the tendency to invoke the divine in moments when we are beside ourselves with distress and joy, might not a reasonable observer of human nature conclude that there is in man a tendency to invoke the divine in such moments, and would it not be reasonable then to hypothesise that God our creator has placed this tendency in us?

This line of questioning shades perceptibly into that, which is properly a response to the second objction, namely that God's nature is everywhere disputed. Let this statement of fact go unchallenged. That God's nature is everywhere disputed in fact depends on a prior and basic fact: that His existence is everywhere supposed. Might this fact, i.e. that no society of men has ever based itself on the denial of the proposition that God exists, but rather every society of men throughout history has organized and qualified itself precisely in terms of its members' understanding of the divine nature and the way in which they offered divine cult (worship), be taken to suggest that human society as such is an expression of the basic human impetus to be united with the creator?

Thirdly, and most briefly, I agree. Church services are often boring. I confess that I go more often than not out of a sense of duty or obligation. I would ask, however: whence the sense of duty, of obligation? I do not mean the sense of duty or obligation to attend church at the appointed times. I mean to inquire into the origin of the sense of duty as such. Before taking the tedium of church services as evidence of their empiness, one must first offer an adequate account of why so many have gone and continue to go to church, at all.

Now, let me offer one further consideration to our young reader: before you let yourself be discouraged by the multiplicity of questions and the apparent lack or elusiveness of answers, ascertain for yourself that you are asking the right questions, and in the right way.

For example: from the fact that things just seem to be a certain way, that people have certain inclinations, that there are observable and predictable cycles in nature, might one conclude that there is order in the universe?

To be sure, either there is order or there is not. If there is order, then has some power or principle ordained it? In everything we perceive as ordered in the universe, we certainly do not claim to have understood the order until we have arrived at a certain knowledge of the power by which the order is established - and this woudl tend to suggest that the presence of order implies of needs an ordering power.

I submit to you, young friend, that this ordering power - not of this or that thing, but of all things - is what all men call "God".


1 comment:

Angelo Jr. said...

I want to thank you L.D. for answering to few of my questions from your point of view. I hope that in future everything will be more clearly and i have to power to see where the truth lies. Maybe i'm passing through a phase of uncertanties and questionings, but then again , its in our human nature to question everything i guess. Who knows.. :)