Playing the Indian Card

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

God Is

Michelangelo's God the Father.

This point is not really open to debate. Leaving aside direct experience (and why should we?), there are at least a half-dozen sound philosophical proofs for God's existence; some enumerate several dozen. Aristotle, Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Leibniz, Pascal, the Kalam Cosmological argument; go have a look. It may be possible to remain unconvinced by all of them, but cumulatively, they mean that God's existence is a good deal more certain than any other item of human knowledge. Nobody seems to loudly doubt the existence of the material world, or of other people, or of the truths of science, or of himself. Why God?

Some complain, of Descartes's proof, that it leaves us with a supposed “mind-body” problem. Personally, I have never seen why positing the existence of two distinct types of thing is a problem. But never mind. If so, Berkeley resolved it neatly—by rejecting the existence of the body.

God as cosmic architect, "arch-builder." French, 13th century.

Some assert that Hume exploded all such proofs, by denying the very relationship of cause to effect. I think his argument is tautological. But if you accept Hume, this deals proofs of God only a glancing blow; on the other hand, it entirely invalidates science.

Some assert that Hume exploded the use of miracles as proof, by arguing that miracles are so intrinsically unlikely we must dismiss all such accounts. But no philosopher relies on miracles as their proof of God. And Hume's argument here is also tautological: if we dismiss all claims of miracle as improbable, how do we establish how probable they actually are?

Richard Dawkins asserts, at this point, “Which God?” as if this is a real problem. No, it is a nonsensical question. God is by definition the Supreme Being. There can be only one, and the name one uses is conceptually irrelevant. Monotheists necessarily do not believe it is possible to worship different Gods. Nor, for that matter, do polytheists—the Romans uncontroversially identified their Jupiter with the Greek Zeus and the Carthaginian Baal, their Mercury with the Greek Hermes and the German Wotan, and so on and on. There is a limited, universally recognized, pantheon. Only atheists are apparently confused by this.

Hittite "weather god," i.e., Zeus, Jupiter, Baal, or Thor. All the same guy.

So, there is a God. And the fact of there being a God is an overwhelming fact. It changes everything. If there is a God, nothing is random, nothing is chance, nothing is secret, and nothing is too improbable to have happened. If there is a God, nothing else matters, but understanding him and his will for us. It is surpassingly odd that we are not all hard at work at this.

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