Thursday, October 8, 2009

Does God exist?

William Crawley (Will & Testament, )

(Does God exist?) Alex Byrne, a philosopher at MIT, thinks those seeking "proofs" or "arguments" for God's existence have rather missed the point about the nature of religious faith. After fairly summarizing the state of play in current philosophy of religion, with impressive succinctness, he concludes with this:

"If a persuasive argument for the existence of God is wanted, then philosophy has come up empty. The traditional arguments have much to teach us, but concentrating on them can disguise a simple but important point. As Anselm and Paley both recognized, the devout are not exactly holding their collective breath. For the most part, they do not believe that God exists on the basis of any argument.

"How they know that God exists, if they do, is itself unknown -- the devout do not know that God exists in the way it is known that dinosaurs existed, or that there exist infinitely many prime numbers. The funny thing about arguments for the existence of God is that, if they succeed, they were never needed in the first place."