God Does Not Exist.

Broaching the question of God’s existence is a large task, and one that many have done previously, and will continue to do for a long time to come. Too often it is peppered with ad hominems, straw men, and other fallacies; also too often there is an ungraciousness characterized by the usual Youtube comment section.

But, I must confess, this blog post has little to do with questions of whether theism or atheism sketch a proper view of reality (or whether certain theisms or atheisms come closer than others). Really, I want to provocatively state that God does not exist  following then with an importance nuance to the statement, showing that our use of terms and our conceptions can often be rather reductionist, and thereby lead to fruitless discussions or improper conceptions of God.

 

So, the statement: God does not exist. There, I said it.

But what does that really mean? In fact, what does it mean to say a thing exists or does not exist? And, can we create a close analogy between a mere thing, which we say “exists” and God, which can be described variously as the “fullness of existence” or “pure actuality” or some other philosophically/theologically rich  turn of phrase?

To quote from David Bentley Hart,

“the most pervasive error one encounters in contemporary arguments about the belief in God– especially, but not exclusively, on the atheist side– is the habit of conceiving of God simply as some very large object or agency within the universe, or perhaps alongside the universe, a being among beings, who differs from all others beings in magnitude, power, and duration, but not ontologically, and who is related to the world more or less as a craftsman is related to an artifact.” (The Experience of God, pp. 32-33)

In too much contemporary discourse people speak of God as if there is no conceptual difference between  ontological distinctives, between the metaphysical description of God (something that is shared between Christians, Jews, Muslims, certain Hinduisms, and certain Buddhisms) and a description of the category of gods, demi-gods, and the like. What is that famous phrase?

“I believe in neither God nor in the fairies at the bottom of my garden.”

But, here we have a brushing away of a serious topic, and the rather crude and incoherent parallel of fairies and God. Maybe fairies and Zeus, but God as an ontologically distinct being, the grounding of existence, is another thing altogether. This is precisely why arguments by some like Dawkins and Krauss and others just fail; there is an error at the outset because they are arguing against some sort of demiurgic being, not God.

But, the problem is also that many defenders of God, reduce God to some being that merely exists in the universe along with all other contingent realities. He is the Intelligent Designer, and this moniker is the premier description of who God is. But, here too often the theist fails by primarily noting God through description as merely the demiurge who has fashioned reality, not as the distinct grounding of being.

The sharp point is that many on any side of the religious divisions (whether theist, atheist, or apatheist) do not realize that God occupies a different ontological realm than all other beings, he is distinct in modality. When we speak of the existence, then, of God, we need to realize that existence carries with it certain baggage and we must to step beyond the simple use of the term and realize that there are different modalities of existence. Some things are contingent, and some things are absolute (though, that isn’t to say that some think these categories are mistaken; I disagree, obviously).

So, through semantical wrangling, it is certainly true that God does not exist, well, God does not exist in the same way that contingent realities exist. On the other hand God is the grounding of existence, or fullness of existence as well, that which upholds contingent realities upon the vertical plane of reality.

 

(Yeah, I know. The post name was a sort of bait and switch. Did you really think I was coming out of the closet as an atheist??)

 

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12 comments on “God Does Not Exist.

  1. Analogia Entis? You’re ready to roll with the Radical Orthodoxy crew now!

    • I actually don’t know much of what RO is saying about Analogia Entis, though I would assume they agree largely with Thomistic thought? (FWIW, I do enjoy me some Milbank, and D. Stephen Long is a hero of mine!). I like Hart’s sort of reversal of analogia entis, whereby it counts not in just relating God and creature, but it serves in differentiation between God and creature as beings. But, I will be the first to admit that this isn’t really my specialty!

      • Well (definitely not my specialty either), but I know they follow the 20th Century Catholic Nouvelle theologians (Henri De Lubac, von Balthasar, etc.) who I think reinterpreted Aquinas in a way that traditional Thomism has not. I’m not sure how they align with Hart, but it seems that they have found him somewhat compatible with their overall project.

  2. Jonathan says:

    I think it is quite acceptable to hesitate talking about God existing.

    Or, maybe it would be better to reverse it: God exists. But we don’t.

    Like, I may say, that God exists. But I cannot say God and I exist. Likewise, I can say I exist. But I cannot say I and God exist. For when I exist, I cannot affirm that God does the same as I do. Or when God exists, I cannot affirm that I do the same as he does.

    God’s existence, if I have to use that word, is of a different order than mine, such that the words can never be used in the same sense, that is, univocally (one sense). It can only be by analogy (or analogically), having similarity but difference. An analogy which has no overlap at any point except similitude.

    This is where Cornelius Van Til’s diagram of two circles is somewhat helpful. http://files.wts.edu/uploads/images/Features/VanTil-teaching.jpg

    He argued, in line with Herman Bavinck and other Dutch theologians, that God does not fall under “esse commune” (common being, or being in general). This was over-against the popular Cajetanian interpretation of Thomas Aquinas, that God was just another instance of being, albeit an infinite. (an interpretation under heat among Thomists since 1940s? with Etienne Gilson and others)

    I tend to agree.

    • Thanks for that comment, man! Full of good stuff! I knew I should have paid more attention to Van Til…

      But, yeah, you hit the nail on the head. And, interestingly, Tillich had similar things to say about God and existence, though I doubt him and any Van Tillians have much else in common!

  3. This post is a good thinker, so thanks!

  4. Most religious folk are obsessed with the “Belief” in God. They stick to that belief like glue.

    Yet one is only dependent upon a belief if one is located at a distance from the truth, thus meaning one is located within the zone of less than truth instead. If one is in direct contact with the truth then belief is not required.

    But the religious folk insist upon remaining within that zone of less than truth, thus if “True” proof of the existence of God is presented to them directly in the here and now, they will flog it, scourge it, and crucify it in an instant.

    “We want nothing to do with proof of God’s existence.” is what they say and have said for close to two decades now. In turn, the standard rule has been “Reject Before Inspect.”.

    Thus the true proof of God’s existence, that is found hidden within the Bible in code form, has been completely ignored for years on end.

    Go to http://goo.gl/38qhp and click on the flashing words “Watch / Listen”. This takes you on a web page tour of such proof of God’s existence, and does so via automatic web page scrolling along with complete audio coverage.

    Remember, if you are a religious person, you must reject God’s proof of his existence by what ever means you can. You must spit into the face of truth as have those who have preceded you.

    Or, you could behave in a sane manner.

  5. Eh, Bible “codes” are just more hocus pocus, more magic. I don’t put my stock in this sort of hermeneutic.

    • topinfoguy says:

      Eh, “miracles” are just more hocus pocus, more magic. I don’t put my stock in this sort of Exegesis.

      • I was tempted to just not approve your comment because I don’t approve of trolling, but I thought that perhaps you are making some deeper point that maybe I am not quite seeing.

        If your response is directed specifically at me because of my response to K Sean Proudler, then I understand the charge that I too quickly dismissed what the previous poster was saying. Really, though, it had very little to do with the subject of this blog entry, which was focused primarily on the idea of existence itself in relation to the quite large intra-religious metaphysical tradition of God. I would be happy to dialogue further with Mr. Proudler, but as with most blog comments the post was probably some drive-by comment.

        If you were using the template of my post as just a sort of incidental template for you to get across some point, then I really don’t think you read or understood the blog entry, or you just don’t care to interact with it. I don’t know where miracles were invoked in any of what I wrote.

        Or maybe I am missing some higher point, in which case I invite you to explain yourself a bit further. Either way, thanks for stopping by 🙂

  6. topinfoguy says:

    People are still living in a false reality, a reality that is detached from truth via being attached to mere beliefs and disbeliefs instead. On the whole, they also choose not to be any smarter than their eyes and their ears. In turn they believe what their eyes and ears tell them. They accept what they see and do so even though they are familiar with the statement ” Seeing is believing.”, which means that seeing is clearly not providing a direct contact with the truth.

    However, a minority of the folk of today’s world have chosen to actually be smarter than an ear or an eyeball. Thus they chose to place the value of truth, above, before, and ahead of, any mere beliefs and disbeliefs.

    Thus to them it is clearly obvious that it is absolutely impossible for a car to stop ( zero motion ), start ( be in motion ), and stop again ( zero motion once again ).

    By choosing to view motion with a mind that is smarter than an eyeball, they clearly see that a car is always in motion, and never stops being in motion. In fact the car is always moving at the speed of light within the 4 dimensional environment known as Space-Time. All that can be done is change the direction of the car’s constant motion within that 4 dimensional environment known as Space-Time.

    This intelligent “mind” view of motion soon leads to the same outcome as that known as Albert Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity. This includes all of the mathematical equations as well.

    Google “KSP SPECIAL RELATIVITY – YouTube” within quotes to access K. Sean Proudler’s videos that via simple yet logical analysis of motion, lead you to gaining a full understanding of Albert Einstein’s Special Relativity, and do so in just 1 and 1/2 hours.

    This is what one achieves if you walk on and stay on the path of truth.

    If one on this path then looks for any “TRUE” hidden information encoded within the Bible, then this too is soon uncovered. However, those whose minds do not extend beyond the limited reach of mere beliefs and disbeliefs, sadly can not see this truth. To them, despite the encoded information being the work of God himself, it is instantly perceived as being meaningless and worthless.

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