Phi101 Critical Response 4
Philosophy and Psychology
Submitted By JeweyLama
Critical Response 4
The problem of the existence of God is one of the most interesting subjects in philosophy. Many avoid discussion regarding God, and sometimes for good reason. The word “God” often comes loaded with such varied meaning and symbolism that is bound to create confusion when trying to agree on who or what or where God even is, let alone whether or not God exists. As with nearly every other philosophical subject matter, I find myself relating to each perspective in some way, leaving me unable to exclusively subscribe to either theist, atheist, or agnostic.
As a theist, I identify most with pantheism. Human beings are excellent at creating dichotomies and conceptually separating and forming distinctions between every life form that exists. The most obvious examples of this are day and night, hot and cold, tall and short, big and small – the list goes on. The more subtle forms include humans and nature (humans and animals), humans and God, younger humans (children) and older humans (adults), poor humans (unsuccessful) and rich humans (successful), and so on. Since these distinctions are all relative to perception, I am inclined to see all of existence as being these infinite forms within the spectrum of life. To me, if God does exist, s/he exists as the expression of all life. I consider God to be all inclusive – in my mind, a loving God must be the force that relates everything.
While I can understand why some choose to identify themselves as atheists, I believe this is a result of the confusion around who and what God is in the first place. I strongly relate to the ontological argument, whereby I consider it impossible to not believe in the existence of God without knowing first who or what God is. In order to know what something is, it must exist. Therefore, I believe the atheist viewpoint is often misguided and is a reaction to the many associations made with God that are not necessarily definitive of God.
Whether theist or atheist in any given moment, I am always agnostic by nature. While language can help us clarify, it can also create confusion and distort that which we wish to describe. I essentially believe that we all experience “God” as the life force we cannot escape, but that our attempt to describe God is what creates the split between theists and atheists. In many cases, I notice people use different language to substitute for what would otherwise be God. To me, it doesn’t matter what language is being used – whenever people have mystical experiences, they have trouble finding the words to describe their experience. If God does exist, God must be directly experienced in order to be acknowledged.
Human beings are insecure. We are conscious of ourselves and we know that one day, our physical bodies will pass out of existence just as they were born into it. We spend our entire existence trying to achieve some end before we pass, clinging to our individual identities, and when this leaves us unfulfilled, we attempt to explain this great mystery of life in countless ways. When we are connected to the mystery, no explanation is necessary – a sort of knowing is felt. When we consider ourselves separate from the mystery, distinct individuals conquering nature, we cling desperately to our different beliefs and explanations. We end up disagreeing about concepts without ever truly exploring the nature of existence itself.