coldturkey

At times writing is effortless. Other times nightmarish. But it's always therapeutic.

The existence of God by faith.

with one comment

I have had great and ever growing interest for arguments as to the existence of God and evidence thereof. It has then followed that, based on faith and personal experience, I believe that God exists, supremely and actively so in our lives and in the universe. Within the various schools of argument for God’s existence, I lean more towards the faith school which bases its argument on senses and thoughts or faith and reason. Today I therefore would like to express my stand of faith as I understand it. However, this is very much on the surface and not a replacement of detailed exposition.   

Why, you may ask? Well, it’s a matter of conviction and also because I enjoy such orderly debates and the excitement that the exchanges produce.

First a little bit of definition and an equally little bit of history. The ontological argument was developed by a monk called Anslem of Canterbury in the 13th Century, which was an important age for Scholasticism which meant the kind of theology that was developed in schools and which took its own distinct methodology. Anslem’s argument is that;

‘When one thinks of God, one is thinking of “that which no greater can be thought.” Is it possible to think of “that which no greater can be thought” as not existing? Clearly not, for then an existing being would be greater than it. Therefore, by definition, the idea of “that which no greater can be thought” includes its existence.’

What I pull from Anslem is his method which applies reason to a truth known by faith in order to explain it better. This method was further expounded by the famous St. Thomas Aquinas, born in 1224 in the outskirts of Naples, in how he related faith and reason.

‘Some truths are within the reach of reason and others are beyond it. The existence of God is a revealed truth and therefore an article of faith. But this does not mean that is it is a truth beyond the reach of reason. In this case, reason can prove what faith accepts.’

Here therefore is my argument in two fold.

Firstly, the beginning of knowledge is senses. This is Aristotelian approach. We move from sense to knowledge which means all that is known has been sensed and all that is sensed is already known. Before we examine the idea of something, we have to sense it first. This being the case then, my belief that God exists stems from senses. I have sensed his being and so I believe he exists and so I know he exists. (You may argue that it is enough to examine an idea itself to know it, without sensing it first. That pure ideas are the beginning of knowledge. I will come to this later and briefly.)

Sense (from which faith grows) therefore being the starting point of knowledge, does it exclude reason? When I’m asked to explain my existence of God and I claim faith, am I running away from reason? No because cause is an important factor in any argument. Cause serves to explain the basis of a conviction. A belief in God’s existence or non-existence has to have a basis. My basis in this case is faith and I reason from a basis of faith. I do not need extraordinary proof from this extraordinary being for me to believe in him. No evidence is necessary as to give substance to my claims.

The early Christians were often viewed as the wretched people of the society because they could not fit their faith in the philosophies of the day. Their belief did not make methodological sense like Platonism or Aristotelian did. This was the case until the development of Christian scholars and Christian philosophy which held that faith was the starting point of their belief, just as senses and ideas were to Aristotelians and Platonists respectively. Therefore, and this I strongly believe, faith and faith alone, with absolute zero necessity for evidence, is enough to be a foundation of someone’s belief for the existence of God and to form a basis for his/her argument for the same.

Secondly, it is entirely impossible to deny that which you have already come to the knowledge of. Our minds are initially an empty slate where what is written becomes indelible. Once written forever present. What we then do is chose to like some of the knowledge we come across and dislike the rest. However we can never deny that we do not have knowledge of it. For example I know that there is an act called a human being killing another human being or murder. I hold that murder is morally wrong. I however cannot deny murder happens or that it exists just because I do not agree with it. I cannot deny its existence. However I am free to hold it as correct or wrong.

Equally for atheists perhaps it is completely impossible for them to claim that God does not exist since they already have heard of God. Their minds have already been ‘contaminated’ to use this word. The being of God was already indelibly written on their minds then moment they were introduced to that concept. They absolutely have no choice. There is no way out unless they return to their original empty slate status of mind which is impossible. It’s not in discretion of atheists to say that God does not exist since as Anslem says they have already thought of God as a thought or idea greater than any other, and whose existence they have set out to deny. How is that possible?  They have already been ‘poisoned’ and the antidote does not exist. They are however free not to like God just like I do not like murder though I know it happens.

What about a Muslim or a Hindu, who does not hold the thought of my kind of God as the greatest thought? Such a person definitely holds an idea of another being which he/she considers to be his/her ultimate. He/she does not necessarily deny God’s existence but rather, still acknowledges the existence of a greater being which he/she calls God. Therefore God’s existence, with God being a supreme being, is still not denied.

What of those who have never heard of God…does their not sensing him, at least by not hearing of him, negate his existence in their case? A denial would be impossible to them since to deny you need an object. In their case they do not have this object since they have not heard of it. Therefore they cannot deny its existence. Once they sense this supreme being (either by feeling or hearing of him or seeing, etc), they would be free to deny or affirm his existence. However, as per my second argument, the mere fact of sensing this greatest being locks you out of the choice to negate its existence. Having been introduced to God, and being told he is the greatest, they would also have crossed the line of no return and it is impossible for them to erase this knowledge and claim that God does not exist. They are however free to replace this knowledge with the knowledge of another greater being of their choice, if they can find. Even credible is to doubt and remain a skeptic than to claim to go beyond doubt.

Now to my own reconciliation of reason and faith in affirmation of God’s existence. Notice that Anslem starts not by examining the senses but by examining the thought. That God is “that which no greater can be thought.” Thomas on the other hand starts by examining the senses and moves on to knowledge. That what is sensed becomes known.

Personally, I have not thought of anything greater and so that which I have though as the greatest is what I known to be God – from thought to knowledge. I have also heard of God, and upon hearing I have believed in God and so I have known of God by faith – from sense to knowledge.

Advertisements

Written by coldturkey

May 19, 2013 at 8:57 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: