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Friday, October 27, 2006

Weekend God-Poll

Since we are in the election season and polls and public opinion are so crucial, I thought I might take a quick God-poll.

Would your opinion of God change if, in a booming voice from the heavens He declared:
"I am not real. I am just an idea, a symbol, an object of faith and worship. I only exist as thoughts and feelings in your mind."


ktismatics said...

Hmm...still thinking. Meanwhile I got some books in the mail this am, one of which is The Parallax View by Zizek. On the back flap is a photograph of Zizek sitting in a chair, a potted plant behind him: it seems to be a reflection in a mirror. But on this side of the mirror there is the chair, there is the plant, but no Zizek. The title of the photo: "Zizek Does Not Exist."

Dawn said...

I agree with the comment above...it's like me saying that I don't exist. So...who's writing this then?

samlcarr said...

Can God tell a lie?

ktismatics said...

My answer is "no."

John Doyle said...

So what are your findings from this scientific investigation? Your conclusions? Your tips for improved living?

Jonathan Erdman said...

My point of this silly little post was simply to note an ontological connection between the symbol and the reality it purports to represent.

If God were to speak to us in a manner that was empirically verifiable in a way that was "beyond a reasonable doubt" then this would demonstrate that he actually exists.

At the moment that we would find out about God's actual, ontological existence it would be a meaningful event for us. This is true with many people that we interact with and we take if for granted that we find meaning in their existence. When people close to us die one of the things we grieve is the loss of their existence and their disconnection with our existence.

But what if God simultaneously told us that his existence didn't matter and that it was only our ideas of him that mattered? This would create a moment of existential confusion. On the one hand we would find ourselves experiencing meaning by virtue of God's existence and presence. On the other hand we would be told that such meaning was meaningless.

The point: There is an important connection between ontological existence and existential meaning.

As Neo learned while he was in the train station:
"Love is just a word. It is the connection that matters."

ktismatics said...

I think this issue of God speaking to people is perhaps the most critical aspect of faith for most believers. I've tried to explain this to people who claim to have no "God instinct" whatsoever. They think that arguments about creation vs. evolution or the possibility of non-material reality is the big debatable point. I try to tell them that for most believers I know it's the "still small voice" that they find persuasive: the sense that they experience an intimacy of relationship with a spiritual being.

I personally have come to believe that the voice is self-generated. So if the voice says "I am God" or if it says "there is no God," I would attribute it to the same source. If the voice came from outside of me I would assume it was a trick involving loudspeakers, like the Wizard of Oz. If the voice belonged to some being of whose existence I could be persuaded, and this being said that he was not God, I would believe him. If I was persuaded that this was an actual being and the being denied its being-hood, I'd have to do more investigation. Is he lying, or deluded, or am I hallucinating?

So there's my long answer.

Jonathan Erdman said...

I think you make some important observations here. Especially in regards to the source of the debate: It is, quite often, the existential aspect that compells and sustains faith.

Having said that it is important not to make faith too monolithic. Faith contains tangible and intellectual components as well as intangible and spiritual dimensions.

As for me, personally, I don't see what the point of my faith would be if it were simply the belief in a powerful being or a moral code to follow....but that's just me....

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