“Is the concept of God coherent and intelligible?”
If I am to seek a true answer here, I must first ask whether or not the concept of God is coherent and intelligible in accordance to what we, as a populous, know to be real and true – and then, in accordance to that which we as a populous define as being sensible, and possible. Finally, I shall endeavor to pose this very same question to myself, and ask whether or not I personally can accommodate, and understand, God in my life.
How, and to what extent, I comprehend something is dependent on my then level of understanding. When I look at the way I perceive and understand all the things around me, I notice this changing, both with the passage of time, and with my own accumulation of knowledge. Like everything around me, my level of understanding is entirely mutable.
As children, many of us may have believed in fairies, wrote letters to Santa Clause, and had sure and certain knowledge of a blissful afterlife called heaven. In the majority of cases, our grossly uninformed thinking was encouraged, not corrected.
Such thoughts would later be steered in the direction of rationality, and this would come about from, either, acquired common sense, or the wisdom of those with further developed levels of understanding. But up until this point, such idealistic beliefs, no matter how false or true, were adding a significant element of fulfillment to our lives.
I remember my inquisitive nature blooming for the very first time when I begun to become aware of the distinction between what I idealized as a child, and what I grew to know in adulthood. The distinction between my world of fairies, and Santa Clause, and what they told me was God – and this world. Along with this realization came the question; “If God really does exist, is the idealistic nature of this Ultimate Being purely coincidental?” I then called God a fiction, and came to terms with it.
Considering a quote from a philosopher reflecting upon his childhood beliefs in relation to God:
“In fact, (as a child) God seemed no more real than that rotund gentleman who, in a single night, delivers Christmas gifts to all the world’s children. Santa, at least, was not invisible. The one inexplicable fact was that so many otherwise normal adults, having outgrown Santa Claus, still seemed to believe in God.” – Carl
From one side of the argument, Carl may be the example of a very intelligent child with an advanced level of understanding for his age. On the other hand, Carl may just simply, and conveniently be, the atypical skeptic infant.
Some may come to the conclusion that, as a child, Carl found it difficult to accept the idea of positive, pleasurable concepts, and so simply did not believe. And if this was so, could the same not then be said about all us adults – us adults, whom, like our children, have yet to acquire levels of understanding which could be considered – even remotely – absolute. I ask myself; is it the optimistic man who embraces the concept of God, and the pessimistic who declines such a belief?
Consider the firm faith we hold in science. We base most, perhaps all, of what we know on the facts presented to us by science. Because science is factual, it becomes a part of our reality, and we warmly welcome it as such. When we remain within the folds of this concept – that what is intelligible is all that is coherent – then the idea of an Ultimate Being – omniscient, immutable, omnipotent – becomes completely impossible; incoherent.
If I take the practice of homeopathy as my example: Human beings who rely on natural remedies to cure ailments are embracing a practice that relies on the most diluted, minutely concentrated amounts of natural extract to heal their condition. The stronger the concentration, the higher the potency. And before the appropriate research was conducted, this premise would have been once considered incoherent, and, indeed, unintelligible.
If the concept of God goes beyond our current levels of understanding, then we could consider His ever-queried existence paradoxical. Yet, in complete contradiction, this may not necessarily render Him unintelligible. If we position God alongside this philosophical paradox:
“Can God create a rock so heavy that He cannot lift it?”*
The idea here is surely that the two obvious answers lead to something that God cannot do, and, hence, a paradox which serves to disprove His omnipotence. No?
I wonder now; can we truly and confidently state that there is no God, simply because we believe we can prove that he does not live up to a manmade term? A term imposed upon Him; a term imposed upon Him by the idealists among us.
If these answers we seek are currently unobtainable at our current level of understanding, I ask whether that would necessarily render the concept itself unintelligible. Maybe it is so that Russell`s paradox exists for us to consider, deliberate, opinionate, and eventually understand – although, it would seem, never to solve.
And if God, like the paradoxical circle, takes us beyond all our understanding, then must we not consider that, within the context of this universe, we should maybe focus on questioning His existence within the limits of that which we do already know. One could argue that if we settle upon the conclusions we have already come to, then, in this respect, each and every one of us has already `solved` the conundrum of `God`. When scouting for opinions on the topic of God, and his coherence, I was offered; “Is the concept of no God coherent and intelligible?” – and, in the opinion of that particular philosopher, this is a question which, alone, should answer everything.
Popular consensus states that, if there were no God, then we as a race evolved from nothing.
Consider this: If Nothingness ever existed, and at any given point in this existence, Nothingness became aware, is this not exactly the sort of thing that Nothingness, with Nothing, and knowing Nothing, would fantasize about? I consider the immense appeal of what is all around me: challenge, uncertainty, danger and adrenaline, conflicting societies attempting to co-exist, love, sexuality, and sweet tasting foods… In fact, the more I think about it, the more I realize, that what I have all around me, is also my ultimate fantasy. Are you, the very people I now attempt to educate myself alongside, mere lifeless puppets of my imagination? Is it only I who thinks?
I know that I do think; that I am aware, and this I can swear to you. Yet your existence I cannot vouch for and I must rely on you to tell me that you are there, and trust that you are not merely acting out a role. I wonder would I really be teetering upon the extremes of eccentricity if I accused all this as being mere tangible sensation of my self-imposed psychosis?
Could I, as God, be lucid at last?
Or maybe – if you, too, know you are aware, and really, I am not – because no one else is; then could all this be mere tangible sensation of your self-imposed psychosis? Am I not now asking; which one of the two of us is really God, or Nothingness?
This, I know for sure: that you are coherent within the confines of my perceived reality, and I am also sure that, if you truly are there, then I too must be coherent in yours. But when it comes to God, someone whom neither of us has seen, nor heard, nor felt on any level other than spiritual; then, as was the case with my attachment to Santa Clause, any existence He may be granted is, and may always be, purely self-sanctioned.
I nominated Santa Clause as my bringer of joy and hope, he was a promise of all eternity, and that sure and certain afterlife: he turned out to be a fiction.
This was incidental. And by no means is an evidence for which to dismiss the concept of God.
I consider the following: In a way not unlike Santa Clause, He, with his morally perfect persona, has the power to sway his believers towards acts of high morality and extreme kindness. Whether or not this particular God, as a concept, is coherent, or intelligible, or actually “exists” or not, He certainly wields considerable power and influence, both over the spread of humanity, and the path of life. By these standards alone, the concept of God could almost certainly be argued as a worthwhile one. And lastly I ponder; considering God as this surely powerful and worthwhile concept, is He more, or less, coherent and intelligible now?
*Quote by Bertrand Russell