Written By Thomas Perez. March 8, 2014 at 6:42am. Copyright 2014.
Aristotle wrote, “Affirmations and their corresponding negations are one in the same knowledge;” therefore, one can discern from many atheisms their corresponding affirmative theologies.
In The God Delusion, Dawkins presents his central argument against the existence of God in the fourth chapter. His thinking goes something like this: The universe is a complex thing. Therefore the God of the Christians, who, Christians say, made the universe, must be at least as complex as the universe God made. Therefore we are left with an even bigger problem than before: Who made this ultra-complex God? A hyper-complex mega God? It makes plain sense, according to Occam’s razor. Ochman’s Razor: The simplest explanation for a phenomenon is most likely the correct explanation. Therefore if one were to apply the “Razor” to a theory, then one would have to stop before they go any further. The complex universe is enough. Ergo, in all likelihood, God does not exist.
This argument, which boils down to “well, who made God, then,” as asked by Carl Sagan in his book ‘Cosmos.’ This question assumes that God is a thing like any other thing. It assumes that God must exist in the same way that everything exists – in the same way that Dawkins himself exists. As Terry Eagleton wrote in his review of ‘The God Delusion,’ “Dawkins seems to think that God is a celestial super-object or divine UFO, a creature like other creatures, only bigger and smarter: a kind of super thing, but a thing nonetheless.” But even this concept entails a denial. As denial of “can you prove who created the God that created God.” This question reaks with infinate regression – constantly taking a step back, further, further and further; unto no end, and therefore to no affirmative answer.
However, Dawkins does not get outside of himself and ask, “is my assumption that God is a thing like any other thing really necessary?” Neither does he ask, “is my denial of God necessary to validate a non-existence?” On what is this assumption grounded? Where did it come from? The truth is, despite all his claims to the contrary, Dawkins is a Fundamentalist. A Fundamentalist who can not regress.
He will never question – in a serious manner – the sufficiency of science as a guide to truth. Perhaps he thinks the success of science makes it a self-evident choice when it comes to grounding his worldview; what he does not and will not consider is the very real possibility that science is so successful precisely because it is so limited. To reject this possibility out-of-hand is nothing but intellectual laziness. Dawkins is dogmatically rigid and fixed in place. I repeat, he is a Fundamentalist.
He must be, because the only theology he has ever successfully or unsuccessfully attacked is Fundamentalism, an embarrassingly easy target. He attacks the Biblical literalist. But it’s the only theology he knows, the only theology he can imagine. Therefore, it’s the only theology his own atheism is equipped to deny, which he himself demonstrates in Chapter 3 of ‘The God Delusion.’
Typical arguments against God pretty much goes as follows:
The following is taken from the website “God is Imaginary.” They are titles (blogs). Blogs of which, when clicked at the site, take great lengths to discredit the existence of God.
Statistically analyze prayer
Look at all historical gods
Think about science
Read the Bible
Ponder God’s plan
Understand religious delusion
Think about Near Death Experiences
Watch the offering plate
Notice that there is no scientific evidence
See the magic
Take a look at slavery
Examine Jesus’ miracles
Examine Jesus’ resurrection
Contemplate the contradictions
Think about Leprechauns
Notice that you ignore Jesus
Notice your church
Understand Jesus’ core message
Count all the people God wants to murder
Listen to the Doxology
Ask why religion causes so many problems
Understand evolution and abiogenesis
Notice that the Bible’s author is not “all-knowing”
Think about life after death
Notice how many gods you reject
Think about communion
Examine God’s sexism
Understand that religion is superstition
Talk to a theologian
Contemplate the crucifixion
Examine your health insurance policy
Notice Jesus’ myopia
Realize that God is impossible
Think about DNA
Contemplate the divorce rate among Christians
Realize that Jesus was a jerk
Understand Christian motivations
Flip a coin
Listen when “God talks”
Realize that a “hidden God” is impossible
Think about a Christian housewife
Consider Noah’s Ark
Ponder Pascal’s Wager
Compare prayer to a lucky horseshoe
Look at who speaks for God
Ask Jesus to appear
However, Dawkins, as well as the ‘God is Imaginary’ website fails to comply with what I call “negating the negation” (Apophatic Theology). While they have tons of negation against Cataphatic Theology – or Positive Theology – and the belief in the incarnation, through which God has revealed himself in the person of Jesus Christ, they fail to consider the citations of…
“No one has seen or can see God” (John 1:18). “He lives in unapproachable light” (1 Tim 6:16). “His ways are unsearchable and unfathomable” (Job 11:7-8; Romans 11:33-36). – This is a “negation of negation.” In Cataphatic Theology we have the attributes of God; God Exists, God is Love, God is Fire, God is Good, etc. In Apophatic Theology, we have negation; God does not Exist, God is not Love, God is not Fire, God is not Good, and so on.
Many prominent Christians held sway to this point of view. Paul, in his reference to the “unknown God” (Apophatic), in his effort to demonstrate the Cataphatic Theistic qualities conceptualized the viewpoint by rationalism and faith in an attributable God that can be seen, as reflected in the incarnation. Others include; Dionysius the Areopagite, the Cappadocian fathers – Gregory of Nyssa of which included the Three Holy Hierarchs – Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Maximus the Confessor. They all held sway to negation as well.
In the same way, Einstein moved from the idea that matter (special relativity or Cataphatic) and curved space – the nothing, to the insight that matter – the something – is the result of the curvature itself (general relativity – Apophatic) – which is actually the nothing (space). Thus, they do not describe the actual existence of an inexorable surplus that will state our desires. Rather it is our desire that creates the surplus, or the Cataphatic.
However, is negative theology, in fact, too positive, thus being a little more than a mere sophisticated type of theological bias or idolatry? Is the “Nothing” hence rendered into a “Something” by the very presence of guardians who would seek to protect the Cataphatic? No, at least not from my perspective (such as it is).
When I looked into the site, “God is Imaginary,” I laughed at the stupidity of it all. In order for their position to hold any water, they have placed God into a box. And that box is based on particular theologies. My God they are so simple minded – such are the fools who say that “there is no God.” However, the same applies to the fool who says “there is a God” I believe in both – the non-existence and the existence of God. But for the sake of clarity toward the layman, I state that “there is a God.” I guess that makes me a fool & a hypocrite now doesn’t it? But if you were to really sit back and read any religious writing, you will find that no where do they state “God Exists,” they only speak in reference about Him.
Anything taken from it is to be only considered in two fashions – the positive and the negative, as in Apophatic Theology or Cataphatic Theology. And no, I’ am not a dualist. I’m merely stating a position from a perception of how I see this. And in order for the perception to materialize, I accept Cataphatic theology along side the Apophatic.
You see, the most disappointing aspect of Christianity, or any other theistic religion for that matter, is their tendency to concentrate on the attributes of God and not the abstractions of God. What is an abstraction, per-se? An abstract, or abstraction, can be used as an adjective, verb, noun, and a synonym; as in existing in thought or as an idea, but not having a physical or concrete existence. Consider (something) theoretically or separately from something else. A summary, or statement of the contents of a book, article, or formal speech, notional – discrete. Which in turn can summarize in what we consider faith.
A Rabbi once cited, “How do you bridge Apophatic Theology with the nitty gritty of religion? My struggle derives from my belief that religious language is necessarily only a metaphor pointing to that which is beyond language. This in turn has made it increasingly difficult to see any real differences between one religion and the next. Why should I, as a rabbi, promote Judaism and my Christian colleagues promote their brand of Christianity if the particularistic aspects of a given religious language lacks meaning?”
The language of religious particulars often demonstrates a need to express something, the need to prove the something, or a desire/request to be given by the something. But when the empirical test of faith fail, many resort to other explanations as to why they did not achieve a desired goal or request. To many, a failed desire or request is neither considered positive or negative – often opting to place desires, wants, and requests upon the will or sovereignty of God. But such an escape route offers little confront for the religious doubter or atheist.
If one prays for healing, and does not get it, is that considered positive or negative? If one prays for financial help as in getting employment to pay his/her bills, and does not get it, is that considered positive or negative? If one prays that all who suffer famine be feed, and yet does not see the miraculous miracle of abundance poured upon the destitute, is that positive or negative? If one were to pray for the physical resurrection of a loved one (as in these signs will follow), and does not accomplish the feat, is that positive or negative?
Many would obviously answer “that is negative,” therefore God does not exist! Well now, you’ve just proven the non-existence concerning the existence of God through negation. Yes but, “He did not heal my mother,” “He did not heal my Dad,” “He did not provide me with any financial help,” “He did not raise John Doe or Jane Doe from the dead!” “Moreover, there is also much evil in this world!”
But wait, it gets worse! It gets worse, in a way that God often seems to be, as Al Pacino said in ‘The Devil’s Advocate,’ “an absentee landlord.” You may see God everywhere, but I don’t. Maybe I do and I just don’t know it. In any case, I’m sticking with Meister Eckhart, who said in his fifth German Sermon, “Whoever is seeking God by ways is finding ways and losing God, who in ways is hidden.”
If you want to find God, look at those who hunger – that is Christ. Look at the homeless – that is Christ. Look at the derelict – that is Christ. Look at the face of the prostitute – that is Christ. Look at the insane – that is Christ. Look at the poor, the meek, the weak – that is Christ. Look at evil – that is Christ. Look at death – that is Christ. It is negation. It is Apophatic – It is the non-existence of God, it is the opposite of every Cataphatic phrase that can’t be found in hell (death). Therefore death exists, and death is simultaneously truly destroyed at death.
Is one sin greater than the other? Is one negative greater than the other?
Death kills death (for we are born dying, as cells constantly begin to die from the moment of birth until death kills death). And like Einstein‘s relativity, life in the physical (or eternal life) is the result of the curvature itself, death (the negative). Thus the saying that is written “Death is swallowed up in victory” “Oh death where is thy sting” has become the Cataphatic – the positive! Thus it becomes the Life as demonstrated in Christ (as in the resurrection). Regardless of the semantics, doctrines, and opinions involved; life onto death, and death onto life are simultaneous. The latter is the better symmetry. Similar to the nothing as the result of something (Einstein). It can then be said that to see nothing is to see the something. This is applicable to life, growth, goals, love, friendships, and even death.
It would also stand to reason that “Reason” then would imply a “Why.” Thus Reason + Why = Purpose. Purpose = Cognition. Cognition of thought and the Theory of Mind = Questions. And questions = Priori’s. What is a Priori? A priori is the relating to, or denoting reasoning, or knowledge that proceeds from theoretical deduction rather than from observation or experience. In other words, a priori does not prove a theory, it merely suggests the best alternative.
To some degree, realized eschatology serves the greatest purpose. Perhaps like beginnings and new life, end times and death are ever with us, at every moment. And certainly the here-and-now burning everything away that we cling to is a good thing. How else should one live? We should live as if we were living the last line from ‘Forgiving Our Fathers,’ a poem by Dick Lourie: “If we forgive our fathers, what is left?” Allow me to answer, “nothing.” And that in and of itself is the good (Cataphatic) – Something! Yes we doubt, yes we get angry at circumstances beyond our control, but there is always the Something!