God, Yes or No
by Richard E. Noble
Is there a God, or isn’t there a God? Where does Philosophy stand on this question?
Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going? These are the concerns of Philosophy. That there was actually a whole discipline of education that was concerned with this subject, and that they were going to discuss it in an open, objective manner elated me as a young man. Since then I have never stopped reading or thinking about this subject.
I bought the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi because it was entitled, “The Story of my Experiments with the Truth”. To find the Truth, that was always my goal. In order to have experiments with the truth, one must know the truth. What Truth had this Mahatma Gandhi discovered that he could write a book about his experiments with it?
Right now Mahatma Gandhi is sitting on the shelf. I’ve read half of his Autobiography. I lost my enthusiasm for his book because of his statement about God. He said basically; I was never concerned nor did I get involved with arguments for and against the existence of God, because I had always known from childhood that God existed and I needed no further proof …
Since the beginnings of civilization, mankind’s relationship with Truth has been intimately entwined with the notion or concept of God, and the possibilities of revelations from God. If your concepts of Truth stem from God and His revelation, then it should be of primary importance that you first establish the Truth of God. If you can not establish God as a fact, then what Truth can be drawn from an unfounded suspicion? No Truth can be drawn, only more suspicions. Mahatma Gandhi was not a philosopher. He was a religious mystic who placed his belief not in Truth, but beyond Truth.
But Mahatma points out to me an interesting phenomenon. There are people who know, without knowing, and they need or desire no information to the contrary. But I know from reading my philosophy books that this is not the case with all of mankind. Philosophy is an integral part of every human culture. And those that have been concerned with this subject matter are known to the rest of us as the deepest thinkers that the human race has had to offer. So, consulting the greatest thinkers who have ever lived: Is there a God or isn’t there a God?
Well, on this subject, the greatest thinkers who have ever lived aren’t much better off than you and I. For every one who says that there is a God, there is one who says that he is not so sure, or that there is not. If you want to read some pro-God(s) philosophers you can start with Plato, Augustine, Aquinas, Descartes, Pascal, Spinoza, Leibniz, Berkeley, Rousseau, and William James. No God people; Epicurus, Voltaire, Hume, Kant, Schopenhauer, Herbert Spencer, Nietzsche, Russell, and Sartre.
Spinoza, Albert Einstein, Tom Paine and Voltaire are often listed in both of the above categories because of their unconventional notions of God - but they are all non-Christians and disbelievers in any conventional religions.
What do I think? There are basically three types of God; the Metaphysical God, the Infinite Anthropomorphic God and the Finite Anthropomorphic God. The last two I find logical impossibilities. The first, that there is something that keeps the planets floating in space, and living things alive, seems without doubt. But what this thing is, how it operates, what are its qualities or attributes, and how it is connected or related to matter - I have yet to define or determine satisfactorily. Aristotle, Albert Einstein, Thomas Paine, Confucius, Buddha and many others have held a similar belief. So, I feel that I am not alone in my ignorance.