Sunday, 20 February 2011

Why the existence (or not) of God is very important

As a philosophical position apatheism is lazy, and if you are a theist, also plain silly. I here rather agree with the fundamentalists on just this one point, that if there is a God then we couldn't sensibly be apathetic about it. God would, necessarily be, the 'reason' behind everything, and would, presumably, have some grand purpose for life, the universe and everything. Reality would have been constructed by God for God for God knows what reason. Grand metanarratives is what religion is about, for they are always telling us how we should fit our lives into the great cosmic scheme of things and what our life is 'really' for (irrespective of any meanings we might attach to our own lives) Such a God might be a being to be loved or hated or feared but could be no more ignored than gravity.

It is a fundamental a problem for theists to explain why, if God exists, he is not simply 'obvious' to everyone. Why would God be 'hidden'? The obvious naturalistic answer is that he is not there at all. Some mystics think God is so omnipresent that because we don't know of any existence without God, an objective vantage point is impossible - because there is no point in our reality where God is 'not', then we simply don't discern god just because he is everywhere. I think this claim is logical (if there is such a deity)
However I have a problem with the notion that God is 'everywhere' because there is so much shitty gratuitous and pointless evil and suffering in the world: if God is involved in all that evil then, well, he is not Good in any meaningful human sense. A God who is not Good makes some sense to me. After all, if there was a deity why should he be good to humans? Perhaps we are just expendable lab rats in some grand experiment.
Other religious traditions seem to insist God is 'withdrawn' or absent from the world because we are so sinful or we have 'fallen from grace', perhaps in fact we are divine sparks from the giddy heights of heaven fallen accidentally into matter. In this thinking, we have to make our way 'back' to God by spiritual practice. The ascent to god is not suprisingly often portrayed as a bit like climbing a mountain and climb we must or we have no hope or purpose and existence is thought to be futile. The theist insists that whoever does not seek God is failing to fulfill their true purpose and destiny. Its a bold and absolutist claim, but once you believe it has its own inherent logic. Alternatively in some religions God intends to rescue or 'save us'. Usually this means God will intervene and destroy/transform the world at some time in the future for God's people to re-populate the world and live in utopia minus the sinners who are to be anihilated (folk who believe this stuff are rather scary)

I think because God's absence is the more obvious fact of our curent existence, the consistent theist, who has any hope of making sense of the world, must claim that God is not 'with us' automatically but has to be 'found'. Most theisms including platonism and gnositicism allege there i some great existential gulf or blockage between the human and divine reality which has to be overcome - perhaps 'sin' or 'ego' or 'ignorance'. The alleged purpose of life say theists, is to drag ourselves from this worldly existence or state of being where God ain't to the happy blessed reality or state of being where God is; usually they talk of restoring us to 'union' with God from which relationship we are currently said to be alienated. But a personal take on reality and our individual aims are entirely devalued and must be surrendered. Indeed to even have personal aims contrary to the divine aims or purpose is what denies union with God according to some religions. Theism is I think necessarily anti humanistic, and anti-individualistic and at odds with most modern notions of personal 'freedom'.

And this is also why I believe the monotheist at least cannot truly enjoy or celebrate nature or our human existence now for its own sake: the purpose and meaning of life is projected instead into some future or heavenly state. The consistent theist must insist that we are just 'passing through' this current vale of sorrows and soul making; indeed the theist simply feels that 'this world is not enough' . And this is also why theism plays more to people in a state of poverty and oppression. Just because their lives are so impoverished, as they may cling on to the hope it will be better when the roll is called up yonder/in the sweet bye and bye. So theism, if true, and theologically consistent has a massive consequence for how we are to live and what we do or don't do. Indeed most theism say it is simply not enough to believe in a God. Belief requires action, praxis, a practical shake up of one's value and activities. Theistic claims are always totalistic. Anyone who does not see that, frankly does not understand religion at all. This is why I take any claims to 'apatheism' as tongue in cheek - as a funny, cheeky brand of atheism. It absolutely matters whether there is a god or not. It should be one of the most important life orientating decisions we make. And if one believes in God but it makes no difference to one's life i.e. one lives as if there is no God, and practically as an atheist, then every theistic religion seems to insist that such a nominal theist doesn't understand 'belief' or the notion of 'God' really at all. Nominal theism is the most pathetic and lazy state of mind of all. Atheism is strong and solid ground, Believers are strong but very scary, and Agnostics - well, we are really trying to find the truth.

No comments:

Post a Comment