God, the Meaning of Life, & the Fate of World Civilization (Prelude)

“God is love,” taught Christ, but “God is dead,” wrote Nietzsche. If so, Nietzsche is now in good company.

Is there good reason for a rational, cosmopolitan voice to admit to being a theist in the 21st century? Stephen Hawking, a man unimaginably more intelligent than I, recently attributed belief in God to people “afraid of the dark.” A candle is snuffed out, and dies. But we hear an insistent voice whispering: “Only when the night is over. Only when the morning breaks.”

Since before the evolution of language itself, our ancestors have looked up at the sky and grunted plaintively about what was hidden there. The greatest prophets and poets and philosophers in history have added their voices to the indecisive chorus. How can I hope to contribute to such a dialogue, which seems to be increasingly one-sided as atheism and globalization become entangled in a kind of latter day Gordian Knot, and “religiousness” is taken by many as an emblem of willful ignorance? What does Kimel know, that Aquinas didn’t?

Well, Aquinas didn’t know that humans could reach the moon through their ingenuity alone. He didn’t anticipate that we could unleash the power of the atom to destroy whole cities during wartime. He didn’t even know that the Earth revolved around the Sun. In fact, he didn’t have access to the most basic truths that babbling schoolchildren are now taught by rote memorization. A great deal was, literally, beyond his imagination.

As civilizations have evolved by dancing to the tune of the mastery of their citizens over the natural sciences, the ideas and arguments at play for these kinds of discussions have grown in number over time in direct proportion to the accumulation of knowledge in the din, though the naturally conservative nature of religion has sometimes prevented modernizing tendencies in theology. Yet now, we have more building blocks at play than ever before with which to construct our perspectives, so that today, one can hunt for God armed with a set of metaphors unprecedented in the history of the human imagination.

And so a humble voice, like mine, can fumble to speak, even if I’m no Plato or Aquinas or Kierkegaard. They didn’t even know that evolution was a law of nature, let alone imagine a world in which computers could communicate with each other in cyber-space.

In time, I will consider the arguments against God. But now, hear the arguments for Her/Him/They  (anything would be preferable to “It,” an impersonal pronoun more fit to describe a throne than the one who sits on it.) Begin with a position of doubt—that there might be a God, or there might not be a God. Yes, proceed from this point, and then hear my four reflections.


May 29, 2011

Next Entry Postponed to July 3, 2011


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