Probably the most well-known intellectual atheists of the 20th century were Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre. However Camus privately and Sartre publicly converted vaguely to monotheism, Catholic and Jewish respectively.
A look at the rationale behind their conversions constitutes the best case for the existence of God. We may call this the existentialist argument for God. It’s also touched by Pascal, Kierkegaard, Chesterton, Lewis, Wittgenstein, and the film (I haven’t read the book) Life of Pi.
First, ground rules:
- God’s existence or non-existence cannot be objectively demonstrated through empirical evidence or deductive argument. Why?
- Because the question of God, by most definitions, concerns basic presuppositions about reality itself. Contra “new atheism” the question is not scientific. It is pre-scientific, pre-theoretic, as Karl Popper eloquently stated. Consider:
- You can demonstrate the proposition “a tree exists” by showing a tree to me. You and I share (in language and practice if not in conscious theory) basic presuppositions like the physical world exists, other minds exist, and one can satisfactorily demonstrate to other people that a tree-size physical object exists by showing it to them.
- But you cannot objectively demonstrate basic presuppositions themselves. We have no common ground here, no criteria for satisfactory objective demonstration in language and practice..
So how could we move forward? Is the question itself pointless, leaving us only the agnostic or the arbitrary? Not necessarily. (Not if you care about the question anyway.)
Wittgenstein in Culture and Value (1984) offers the imagery of iron. Physical sciences, deduction, and so forth are cold. You need cold to set the molecular bonds and use the tool. But first you need heat. As heat forges iron, so intuition and reflection and personal experience mould our understanding of the scaffolding of reality. These are other, more fundamental, more necessary means of knowing than objective empiricism. These are the kind of methods you must use if you are to investigate the question of God.
Which basic presupposition—atheism or theism—makes more sense of your experience of the universe? There is no objectively right or wrong answer here.
The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.
As for me, I don’t see myself as so much dust that has appeared in the world but as a being that was expected, prefigured, called forth. In short, as a being that could, it seems, come only from a creator; and this idea of a hand that that created me refers me back to God.
Does the possibility and actuality of a physical universe ordered by natural laws make more sense to you under the lights of atheistic or theistic presuppositions? Does the possibility and actuality of meaning or purpose in human experience line up better with one or the other? Paraphrasing Life of Pi, “given you can’t objectively determine which story is true and given the immediate result is the same, which is the better story: the one with the cannibalism or the one with the tiger?”
For me, the most interesting observation is that in fact humans have this wide sense of purposeful personhood which may make more sense under the theistic premise of a transcendently purposeful personhood in God.
I don’t know whether I’m convinced. I remain agnostic for the time being. The iron’s still hot.
Pakistan’s prime minister has ordered YouTube’s suspension in the country over the “blasphemous” anti-Islam film as the country has become gripped by violent protests in response to the video.
So far, Google has been refusing calls from the White House to review the trailer for “The Innocence of Muslims” and ban it altogether since the clip remains within its guidelines. Instead, the US-based company, which own YouTube, has been responding to requests from individual countries.
“We’ve restricted access to it in countries where it is illegal such as India and Indonesia, as well as in Libya and Egypt, given the very sensitive situations in these two countries,” the company said. “This approach is entirely consistent with principles we first laid out in 2007.”
Pakistan blocked access to the inflammatory video, which depicts Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, as a child molester back on Thursday, the day after the US Ambassador to Libya was killed in an anti-film protest. This measure now appears to have been insufficient to restrict the access to the clip.
Monday, Pakistanis across the country were still venting their anger at the US and the film. Two people were killed in clashes with police as hundreds-strong rallies marched through towns and cities burning US flags, portraits of President Barack Obama and at times buildings they were passing. Over 40 people have been arrested.
Because as far as I can tell, backing down right now in light of protests in places such as Australia where people are holding signs saying that people who oppose Islam should be beheaded are a bit worse than “God will send you to hell!” is saying “well I guess we can’t handle people getting offended!”
One is a threat, the other is a possible ending of your life. Big difference.
This is something that needs to remain up. Would we start smothering people if said people revealed child abuse in the Catholic church? So why not the violent minority of Islam?
I mean look at this:
Red indicates violent protests over the film, yellow indicates non-violent protests. This is all over 1 video. A single, HORRIBLY MADE video. Most of the people haven’t even seen the god damn video. They’re protesting the IDEA of it.
Fucking psychos who use children who don’t understand politics or religion.
This photo is from Sydney, Australia’s protests/riots.
In response to the middle east’s riots, and just religious people in general.