Existence of God – 42
The usual charge, against which we want to consider the existence of God, is that if the arguments for God’s existence were, at any point, all shown to fail, then belief in the existence of God would (should) also fail.
This charge requires a lot from the believer, because it is meant to suppose that if logic should cease to be logic, then we should be logical (who knows under which definition) and cease our belief in God. Let me put the charge in an overly simplistic way.
If it can be shown that 4 + 5 = 10, and not 9, then we should all change our answers to that question from now on. And not only to that question, but to every question which depends on that answer, and again, to every question which operates by the same mechanics.
In a word, we must question all calculations pursuant to the previously believed 4+5 = 9, and addition itself (how did we make that mistake before? Have we been making it in more than one place?), and subtraction (is 9-5 no longer equal to 4?), division, multiplication..all of mathematics…and perhaps some logical assumptions besides.
But of course, 4 + 5 will never equal 10. No amount of special pleading, or question-begging, or emotional appeal could ever change the answer, even if you wanted to sue me for it.
Now, the objection will be that the conclusion “God exists” is never as obvious as “9” is for the arithmetic above. And that’s the start of another conversation.
As for this conversation, for the believer, it is about that obvious. My contention in the last post is that logic is not central to one’s belief in God; that logic, in its academic forms, is not necessary for faith.* Rather, the logical arguments for God are a kind of refuge or platform in a certain context, or an exercise in the breadth and depth of one’s mind, or even a devotional activity of those inclined to love Him with all their minds.
On the other hand, I have never bothered about the logical structure of my experiences with God in any academic sense. I have tried to understand them, yes, and that with a gasping desperation. In that case, however, I am more an adventurer than a thinker, more a disciple than a student.**
Those experiences seem to supersede human rationality. For example, to feel you are in the presence of God is not something arrived at deductively, and so we are not afforded logical certainty. It is, instead, something received, not arrived at. If someone brings you a gift, you do not trouble with the logical certainty that the gift exists, nor with the existence of the gift-giver. You simply receive it, and perhaps try to understand inasmuch as it helps you to appreciate the gift.
Indeed, it is tempting to have these rationalizations, to understand completely. For skeptical minds, this gives us something to sink our teeth into. Yet, it is important that the experience retains this flavor of being ultimately indescribable, or else, we are limited to what we can understand. (This, really, is the downfall of skepticism, and to persist is to be a cynic).
It is better if we take the logic and the poetry together, a balanced meal of spiritual sustenance comforting to the soul. We want the chicken with the breading, the salt with the asparagus. This is what the analogy has offered me – it brings together a full meal, one I am still preparing, and often eating. It seems like elven bread to me, the least nibble filling my stomach, nourishing me for days; better, it is like a multiplication of loaves and fishes.
I don’t promise it will do the same for everyone; this is not a sales pitch. But if you are heavy on heart, and hungry for the meat of logic, you might find your protein here. If your mind is weighed down with the complexities of argument, the leaven of a fanciful notion can lighten your spirits.
*Don’t forget the posts on Plantinga for a detailed reflection on this.
**This, of course, is not an unreasoning position, but simply an organic one, a less technical way of reasoning.