We have talked about philosophers and their various philosophies about god, purpose and even death. Now, I wish to move onto the second phase of these blogs where I want to elaborate more on the unconventional philosophies and theories that I have my inclination towards. I know that the blogs from now on might have a possibility of being a little biased or one sided but I will try my best to provide an equally balanced argument for what I believe in.
I have always felt like a cog in this world system. So these blogs will be my journey to self introspection and my effort to understand the various perspectives that you guys will provide to me through the interactions on the comment sections. I hope it will be something fruitful and we all learn out of it.
For all those reading, do comment down below your thoughts about life, death and God or if there is something you want to discuss about.
Now, the 21st century has its own perceptions of
death. And one might be best described as a kind of philosophical FOMO (Fear of
Contemporary American philosopher Thomas Nagel
points out that some people dread death because they’ll miss out on things that
they want to encounter. If you were to die right now, you’d never get to finish
the video game you’re in the middle of, or read the next book, or see humans
land on Mars. Which would suck, yeah. But think about it like this: cool things
were going on way before you were born and you missed that.
I’m gonna make some assumptions about your age here
and You didn’t march on the movements of freedom alongside Gandhi. You totally
missed the The Women’s Liberation Movement. So, Nagel asks: If you don’t feel some sort of deep sense of loss at
what you missed before you were even alive, why should you feel loss at what
you’ll miss after you die? Now, Nagel does point out that if we believe that
life is fundamentally good, then there is something to grieve for when a life
is cut short.
Since humans can live, on average, for about 80
years, someone dying at the age of 20 is a tragedy, because that person missed
out on 60 possible years of good times. But we should take a breather here to
talk about what you truly value about life, because that will also have an effect
on what you think about death in general, or about the death of a specific
If you say that life is just always, essentially,
good, then you’re said to place a high value on the sanctity of life. It
doesn’t matter what the content of that life looks like, or what the person is
like. The fact that they’re alive is just wonderful. So, losing it would not be
good. But, if you think that quality of life is what’s important, then you’re
going to want to distinguish between lives that are full of good experiences,
and those that aren’t. If you value, quality of life, you don’t think that
there’s something inherently valuable about merely being alive.
So in these terms, some deaths might in fact be optimistic
or precious – like, if they bring about an end to a horrible, agonizing
existence. It does make sense to be afraid of dying itself, because the process
of dying can be terrible and drawn out and involve saying a lot of difficult
good-byes. But maybe Socrates and Epicurus have convinced you that fearing your
own death is absurd.
Well then what about the death of others? Is it
equally stupid to fear the death of the people you love? Probably so, say some
philosophers, because what you’re fearing isn’t in reality death; what you’re
afraid of is being left behind, alone, when a loved one dies. And this is a
good place to hear from ancient Chinese Daoist philosopher Zhuangzi. He lived
about the same time as Epicurus, and considers that there’s no actual reason to
fear the death of your loved ones.
He asked, why would you fear the inescapable? We
know that death is going to happen, to everyone, and we also know that it’s a
part of the life cycle. And we don’t see any other parts of our life cycle as
bad. Wouldn’t it be stupid, he said, if we mourned the loss of our babies when
they became toddlers, or our children when they became teens? We celebrate
every other life milestone, with birthday parties, bar mitzvahs, and
graduations, to mark the passage of time and the changes that have come. Sure,
your parents might shed some tears when they pack you off to college, but they
also knew that that day was going to come – when you would move away from them
and onto your own life. According to Zhuangzi, dath is just one more change –
why treat it differently?
He believed that instead of mourning, we should
celebrate the death of a loved one just as you celebrated every other life
change that they experienced. We should think of their death as a going away
party for a grand journey. In his view, mourning can in fact seem selfish. When
it’s time for the people you love to move on, Zhuangzi said, the last thing you
should do is hold them closer.
When it comes to death, philosophers,
non-philosophers, we all stand on the same page. As there is nothing to know
about it. There are no specialists on death, not even those studying the
concept of death are ahead than the rest of us. We are all equals in thinking
about death, and we all begin and end thinking about it from a position of
The concept of death is completely
empty. There is nothing you can possibly visualise about it with only your imagination that can
work. The concept of death has a use for the living, while death itself has no
use for anything. All we can say about death is that it is either real or it is
not real. If it is real, then the end of one’s life is a simple termination. If
it is not real, then the end of one’s exemplified life is not true death, but a
gateway to another life.
Having no substance, we can
only talk about death figuratively. For those who think death is real, death is
an empty wall. For those who think it is not real, death is a door to another
life. Whether it is a wall or a door, we cannot prevent using one metaphor or
another for death. We often say that a person who dies is relieved of misery.
However, if death is real, then it is metaphorical even to say that the dead do
not suffer, as though something of them remains not to suffer.
The ancient Egyptians thought
that at death, your heart would be evaluated against a feather to decide if it
was fit to enter the Underworld. A heart heavy with transgressions would be fed
to a demon. When the stakes are everlasting, it’s only acceptable to get a
little nervous about what’s basically the eventual final exam, but to make you
feel better, let me assure that many philosophers have believed and still
believe that death is nothing to fear.
Some philosophers like Socrates believed in the concept
of afterlife. While, Ancient Stoic philosopher Epicurus didn’t think so. He
lived about a hundred years after Socrates, and he denied belief in an
afterlife altogether. Instead, he said that we are nothing more than just our
bodies Here’s his argument.
“Death is the cessation of sensation. Good and evil
only make sense in terms of feeling. So, Death is neither good nor evil. He was
convinced that things are only evil, or bad, if they feel bad. And he did not
mean only physical feelings, anyone who’s ever had a broken heart will tell you
that it’s a lot more painful, and harder to heal, than a broken leg. But a
broken heart is still a sensation – you need a body to experience it – so as a
materialist – someone who believed that You equals Your Body – death just meant
nonexistence. And there was not anything scary about that, because, well, there
won’t be any you to have any feelings about not existing!”
Epicurus argued that fearing nonexistence is not
only stupid, but gets in the way of relishing life. You are alive, and
experiencing sensations, not. So, he said, make those feelings as great as
possible, and don’t worry about when those senses are going to stop!
Think about a hangover you had after that crazy party.
Hangovers aren’t bad for you before you get one, right? In fact, the thing that
comes before the hangover is often quite nice, what with all the laughing, and
feeling unrestrained. No, the hangover is only bad while it’s taking place.
But the point is, if something is bad for you, it’s
generally bad for you at a specific time, the way a hangover is. But Epicurus
said that death can’t be bad for you at any time. Because once it comes, you’re
gone! The thing that eventually kills you, that’s probably bad, before your
death, but that’s not death. When you think about it, you and Death are never
present at the similar time. And if you aren’t there when death is present,
then there is no time in which death is bad for you.
So, things like hangovers and movie spoilers are
bad, because you’re there to experience them. But as far as Epicurus was
concerned, life was like a night of drinking before a hangover that is death.
Which, inevitable as it is, you will never truly experience.
One of the most persistent challenges to god’s existence is also the root of one of the most-asked, but least answerable, questions that we, as thinking beings, face. Why does evil exist?
So, if there’s really an all-knowing God out
there, he knows about all the evil. He might even know about it before it
happens. And if he’s all-powerful, he could stop it. And if he’s all-good, then
he would want to stop it. And yet he doesn’t. The evil continues.
Philosophically rational people shouldn’t hold
inconsistent beliefs, so atheists argue that you’re going to have to give
something up – and the thing to give up is God. Some theists, however, take a
different route. They choose to give up one or more divine attributes. They
argue that maybe God isn’t powerful enough to stop evil, or maybe he’s not
knowledgeable enough to know about it, or maybe he’s not even good enough to
care about stopping it.
That might sound weird to some of you, but if
you’ve ever heard someone say that God is envious, or petty, or jealous, that’s
basically what they’re doing – they’re acknowledging the possibility that God
is not actually good.
If you’ve ever checked out the Old Testament,
there is a God there who has some anger issues one who’s not at all opposed to
wiping out entire populations just because of some bad behavior.
There is a counter argument for those who believe
the possibility that God is not all good. This argument holds that God
maximized the goodness in the world by creating free beings. And being free
means that we have the choice to do evil things – a choice that some of us
exercise. This theodicy means God doesn’t create evil, but evil can’t be
avoided without depriving us of our freedom. And a world without freedom would
be a worse place overall.
This explanation preserves God’s goodness,
because he created the best possible world, and also preserves his omnipotence
and omniscience, because, although he does know about evil and could stop it,
he has a good reason not to – to ensure our freedom.
The problem is, the free will defense really only
really addresses what’s known as moral evil –or the evil committed, on purpose,
by humans. Now, we’re certainly responsible for a lot of bad stuff, but you
can’t blame us for everything.
We can’t be held responsible for the fact that
the plates of the earth sometimes shift, causing destructive earthquakes, or
that a storm might knock a tree over that falls onto someone’s house. This type
of evil – the stuff we’re not responsible for – is called natural evil, and the
free will defense can’t resolve natural evil.
Then there are some people that argue that good
can’t exist without its opposite. The idea here is that you can’t understand
the concept of pleasure without pain. We don’t know what it feels like to be
warm if we haven’t been cold. We can’t understand the goodness of filling our
bellies if we’ve never been hungry.
However, the problem of evil actually goes a step
deeper. What we’ve been talking about so far is the logical problem of evil. This
problem can be resolved, if we can explain why there’s evil. But there’s also
the evidential problem of evil. This problem points out that we might be able
to explain why evil exists, but we still can’t explain why there’s so much evil
in the world. For instance, let’s say that it’s true that we really do need
evil in order to understand goodness.
In that case, why can’t we understand the
contrast through some sort of low-level evil – like paper cuts and head colds I
mean, slow, painful deaths from cancer, and city-destroying hurricanes… they
don’t really add anything valuable to our understanding of goodness. Do they?
If God were truly good, and if a negative
contrast were really needed in order for us to understand the goodness of the
world, then why wouldn’t he give us just the very minimum dosage of necessary
to achieve that goal?
A counterargument might suggest that there’s
always a good that corresponds to, and is proportionate to, any evil. But
empirically, such goodness is really hard to find. What good, for example,
could possibly correspond to the horrors of a genocide?
What are your thoughts about God and the reasons
of evil in this world? Comment down below.
Just when you thought Aquinas must have been tired with his arguments, you find there was a fifth argument. And it was popularized several hundred years after his time — in the late 1700s, by the English Christian philosopher William Paley. And this argument for God’s existence is still around today, too. In fact, it’s one of the most popular. It’s known as the teleological argument. It is often known as the Intelligent Design.
To make his case for the existence of God, William Paley gave us what’s known as an argument by analogy. whereby perceived similarities are used as a basis to infer some further similarity that has yet to be observed. When human beings attempt to understand the world and make decisions they often use analogical reasoning to do so. When a person has a poor experience with a product and decides not to buy anything further from the store, this is often because of analogical reasoning.
We can make an argument by analogy about anything. William Paley applied this way to talk about God, which is known as the Watchmaker Analogy. In the analogy, he asked us to imagine what if we found a watch on the ground. Would we imagine that the watch simply appeared accidentally, suddenly, on its own? Or would we see the intricacy of it, and notice that its parts seem to come together in a particular way in order to achieve a goal? If so, wouldn’t we think that the watch must have been made by somebody, on purpose?
He argued that the teleology demonstrated by a watch would lead us to conclude that it was designed by an intelligent creator with a particular end in mind.
So, if the teleology of a cup indicates the existence of a cup maker, and that of a watch suggests the existence of a watchmaker, Paley believed teleology in the world, and assumed from that, God’s existence.
He continued by linking a watch to a living organism. If we look at the complexity of the human body, the heart and the lungs working together, transforming food into energy producing sweat to keep ourselves from overheating, we’re just generally complex all around. If we look at how aspects of the natural world operate according to complex laws that maintain a beautiful, natural coherence. Paley said this couldn’t perhaps just have occurred, any more than the design of a pocket watch could have come about.
There must be a designer.
However, There’s so much in the natural world that isn’t clear in the same way. For instance, why did God creat our eyes to have a blind spot?
Paley countered that it doesn’t matter whether we can understand how something was created. The point is simply that it was. He might point out, for instance, that people might not understand the inner workings of their phones. But they still know it had a creator. Whether or not I can understand how it was created is beside the point.
Some parts of nature seem to be without purpose. A blind spot obviously doesn’t have any function, and neither do nipples on a man. Paley’s response here was: Just because we don’t know there’s a purpose doesn’t mean there isn’t one. But this is a problem, too, because his whole argument for believing in God is that you should look at the world and see purpose. So if we see some things in the world that are working great, and really seem to have complexity and a definite use, and others that don’t, that’s a flaw in his argument.
Another objection to Paley’s case came from 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume, But another explanation for how bodies came to have the complexity and functionality they have today, is natural selection and random mutation. We can concede that the existence of a designer-god helped make sense of the origins the our world in a pre-scientific age, but now we have a perfectly good scientific justification for how the intricacy of the world came about.
So, why do we need to consider the watchmaker analogy when we have scientific evidence of evolution by natural selection?
Another objection was that the creator that Paley posits seems to make a lot of mistakes. And not just blind spots. Like, how about hurricanes? Or why would he make our bodies with certain tissues — like in the breast, or prostate, or colon — that are so incredibly prone to cancer? Why would he make umbilical cords that could choke a baby’s neck? Why would he make butterflies have to wait for hours, for their wings dry as soon as they come out of their cocoon, making them easily discovered by predators?
Hume pointed out that the world is chock full of stuff that looks cruel, absurd, unrealistic, and contrary to life. A flawed world, he said, means there was a flawed creator.
By this we can conclude that his arguments were faulty, but they still have many supporters. Many believe that that it’s simply more probable that God designed the world, than that it came about through the sheer chance of evolutionary processes.
This one is built on the idea that we simply need
a measuring stick in order to understand the value of things. Good/bad,
big/small, hot/cold – none of these concepts can exist in isolation. If you go
out for a walk and you see an animal, and it’s like the size of a pug, that
animal would be on the small side if we consider the general size of dogs. But
if it was a rat instead of a dog, that would be HUGE. How do we know? Because
we gauge the size of things in terms of other things.
The same idea applies to more abstract concepts,
like grades. How do we know that an A is good? Because it’s at the top – we
know that there are grades lower than an A, but nothing higher. And Aquinas
thought that all of our value concepts would just be floating randomly in space
if there weren’t some anchor – something that defined the value of everything
else, by being perfect – and that, again, is God.
This is how Aquinas developed Number four, known
as Argument from Degrees.
Properties come in degrees in order for there to
be degrees of perfection, there must be something perfect against which
everything else is measured God is the pinnacle of perfection
Let’s discuss these first four arguments before
moving onto the fifth argument.
Philosophers – theists and atheists alike – have
been relatively unimpressed by these four, having found many problems in them. For
one thing, these arguments don’t seem to establish the existence of any
particular god. Even if the arguments are correct, it doesn’t look like Aquinas
gets us to the personal, loving God that many people pray to. Instead, we’re
left with unmoved movers and uncaused causers who seem to have little in common
with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob … the God who feels emotions, and
cares about his creation, and answers prayers. Basically, this objection says
that Aquinas’ god is so far removed from the god that theists actually believe
in, that it doesn’t help anything.
But maybe you’re happy just believing someone’s
out there. That’s fine. But then how about multiple someone’s? Because – guess
what – Aquinas’ arguments don’t rule out polytheism. There’s nothing in any of
his arguments to prove that God isn’t, like, a committee. Aquinas’ cosmological
arguments also don’t prove the existence of a sentient God. So, it might be an
old guy with a beard. It might be six old guys with beards. But it also might
be an egg, or a turtle, or just a big block of stone.
These observations have made some philosophers
uncomfortable with Aquinas’ ultimate conclusion. But there are two objections
that are thought by some to be real nails in its coffin. The first is simply
that Aquinas was wrong in his insistence that there can’t be an infinite chain
of anything. Aquinas takes it as a given that there had to be a starting point
for everything — whether it’s the movement of objects, or causes and effects, or
contingent beings being created. But it’s unclear that this is true, or why it must
If infinite regress can be possible, then
Aquinas’ first two arguments fall apart. But perhaps the most significant
charge made against Aquinas’ arguments is that they’re self-defeating — that
is, they prove themselves wrong.
For example: If Aquinas is right that everything
must have been put in motion by something else, and everything must have a
cause other than itself, then it seems that God should be subject to those same
stipulations. And if God is somehow exempt from those rules, then why couldn’t
other things be exempt from them too? If they can exist without God being responsible
them, then we don’t need God to establish things in the first place.
pondered about whether God exists or not. But we haven’t discussed about God
himself. Who is it? Is it a he? Is God a woman? (probably not) or He is like a
super hero ? or What if he is an alien?
But the traditional picture of God, the one accepted, and even assumed,
throughout Judeo-Christian tradition, up into modern times is what we might
call an “omni-God,” possessing particular divine attributes, the
characteristics believed to be held by God.
Philosophers like Augustine and Thomas Aquinas,
who were themselves influenced by the writings of Plato and Aristotle – came up
with a general set of divine attributes that are still widely held today among
According to them God is:
Omniscient – God is omniscient, which means he
knows everything that can be known.
Omnipotent – all powerful.
Omnibenevolent – possessing perfect goodness.
Omnitemporal – meaning he all times at once.
– exists at all places at once.
Now, it’s worth noting that none of these
attributes is actually mentioned in the Bible. But philosophers like Aquinas
reasoned that they must be the case, if God is perfect. And these philosophers
took it as a given that he is. The problem is, a close investigation of these
attributes reveals some rather tricky little puzzles.
And some of the questions that arise are not only
about God, but also about us. For instance, if God knows everything, then he
also knows the future, right? Which makes sense, if he’s also omnitemporal,
because that would mean that he’s already in the future and also in the past and
don’t forget the present.
But many theists also believe that God gave us
free will. So, how can we be free, if God already knows what we’re gonna do? In
that case, are we really free? Or is freedom just an illusion that he created
for us, to make us feel like we’re in control?
What we’re seeing here is that, at least on the
surface, God’s traditional divine attributes are internally inconsistent –
meaning, they can’t all be true at the same time.
Now let’s consider another question about God’s
personal skill set: Can God sin? If he’s omnipotent, it would seem that he can,
because he can do anything. But if he’s omnibenevolent, or inherently good,
then it would seem that he can’t. This doctrine, which says that God can’t sin,
is known as divine impeccability.
But if God is impeccable and incapable of sin,
then doesn’t that mean that he is not omnipotent? Some people try to solve this
particular puzzle by saying that sin is necessarily a failure, so therefore, a
perfect being can’t do it.
Others say that, even though God might do
something that would be a sin if a human did it, the idea of ‘sin’ simply
doesn’t apply to God. Perhaps because, given his omnibenevolence, everything
God does is inherently good.
After all, it basically means that saying “God
did a thing” would be the same thing as saying “God did a good thing,” because anything
God does is good.
And if that’s the case, then his goodness doesn’t
have any real meaning. It’s hard to understand how God could relate to us – or
feel the way we feel – if he doesn’t experience time as we do: If he already
knows what’s going to happen, how could he ever be surprised, or change his
And if god is omnitemporal, is it even possible
that he could be moved to respond to our prayers? By making a request to God,
they’re making what are known as petitionary prayers.
When you pray in this way, you’re asking God for
something – to help you pass a test, or to save a loved one who’s in danger, etc.
Contemporary American philosopher Eleanor Stump
argues that we have no reason to think that asking God for something would
actually make a difference.
If God knows everything, including the future which
he does, if he’s omniscient –and if God has the power to bring about any state
of affairs – which he does, if he’s omnipotent, and if he always wants to bring
about the best state of affairs – which he does, if he’s omnibenevolent –then
God has already decided what’s going to happen in every single case. To
So either your prayer is asking God to do
something he was already going to do, in which case your prayer was kind of a
waste of time.
Or your prayer is asking God to do something he
has already decided not to do, because it wasn’t actually the best thing.
However, Aquinas said that we can’t predicate, or
assert, anything about God, because he’s so far beyond our understanding. When
we speak of God, Aquinas said, we never say anything that’s true. Instead, we
have to speak entirely in analogies, because that’s all we can do.
Now, there are other thinkers, particularly in
modern times, who point out that none of the traditional divine attributes is
in the Bible anyway. So, maybe God isn’t an omni-God.
Maybe he’s more like a superhero. He can be way
smarter than us, way more powerful than us, way more good than us. But still
To continue our previous topic of philosophers trying to prove the existence of God, we should also talk about Thomas Aquinas, who gave one of the most popular philosophies when it comes to discussing God.
Anselm’s argument was considered weak by many. So just like others, Aquinas dismissed it. But to dismiss it, he knew he had to come up with a better argument because in philosophy you can’t dismiss somebody’s argument until and unless you can come up with a better one. He gave not one but five arguments, to prove the existence of God. Probably one wasn’t enough. Anyways, the arguments he gave depended on natural reasoning that humans can use to prove the existence of God. In an unscientific time, Aquinas argued for the existence of God through his understanding of science, and with the help of what he thought was physical evidence.
Aquinas’s first three arguments, motion, causation, and contingency are what is called the cosmological argument for divine existence. Each begins with a general truth about natural phenomena and proceeds to the existence of an ultimate creator of the universe. In each case, Aquinas identifies this source with God. In this blog, I would talk about the first three arguments.
The First Way: Argument from Motion
Aquinas looked around and observed that some things world are in motion. Then he though that obviously movement is caused by movers — things that cause motion. Like, if you drive a car, you are the mover causing the motion. Aquinas believed that everything that’s in motion must have been set into motion by something else that was moving. By this logic, something must have started the motion in the first place.
In the case of physical motion, Aquinas wanted to trace the cause of the movement he saw in the world all the way back to its beginning. And he figured there MUST have been a beginning. Otherwise, for him, it would be like watching dominoes falling, one after another and being told that nothing ever pushed over the first domino. Instead, they had always been falling down forever. There must have been a time when nothing was in motion, Aquinas thought, and there also must’ve been a static being that started the motion. And that being, according to Aquinas, is God – the Unmoved Mover. Aquinas understood it as the God of Christianity.
So, his Argument From Motion ran something like this:
Objects are in motion Everything in motion was put into motion by something else There can’t be an infinite chain of movers So there must have been a first mover, itself unmoved, and that is God.
The Second Way: Argument from Efficient Causes
Now, the second cosmological argument of Aquinas was a lot like his first one. In this argument, he tends to explain causes and effects, in general, all over the universe. The argument went along these lines: Some things are caused Anything that’s caused has to be caused by something else (since nothing causes itself). Nothing exists prior to itself. Because there cannot be an infinite chain of efficient causes, there must be an immutable static first causer of all the changes that occur in the world, and this first causer is God.
If you think about how you ended up reading this blog, you can trace the line of causation back, from moment to moment. You can think about how you were probably searching about philosophy and you found this blog or if you are my friend (most probably you are) opened the link I sent you out of generosity. However, If you think about it long enough, you can probably go pretty far back to maybe the day you got an internet connection set up in your house. But Aquinas said, again: It can’t go back forever. There had to be a First Thing that started off the chain of causes and effects. And that Thing is God.
The Third Way: Argument from Possibility and
Argument number three was the Argument from
Contingency. To understand this one, we need to understand the difference
between necessary beings and contingent beings. In philosophy, A contingent
being is any being that could have not existed. That includes you and me. Yes I
exist, but I could not have. If I was never born, the world would go on. Sure,
situations would be different, but it wouldn’t have any major effect on the
world. Our existence is merely contingent on the existence of other things. We
all can and cannot exist. But because no being can come into existence except
through a being that already exists. Therefore, there must be at least one
necessary being—a being that is not capable of not existing.
Aquinas believed that there had to be something that prevented an infinite chain of contingency. That would mean that the contingency on which everything existed would just keep going back in time. And we can’t have a world where everything is contingent, Aquinas said, because then by definition, it all could easily have never existed. So, he needed at least one necessary being –a being that has always existed, that always will exist, and that can’t not exist, in order to get everything going. And that necessary being is God.
These three arguments obviously weren’t perfect and received lot of criticisms which we will discuss in our next blog. So, turn your notifications on and Subscribe! To make sure you don’t miss out on more information about the best possible thing (Anselm reference) A.K.A God.
We all have had that argument before where we have questioned the existence of God. Whether he exists? Is he the creator of all? Or What if there is no God? The big bang theory? However, when it comes to philosophy, Philosophers believe in something that has an argument something that has facts. Philosophers take nothing as a given – and that includes religious belief. Some people say religion is the one area where you don’t need arguments – that faith alone is enough. But we can’t believe in faith for our answers. For example, I have faith that the sun revolves around the earth instead of the opposite, but that doesn’t prove it to be correct. Faith is definitionally unprovable, which makes it, from a philosophical perspective, not valuable. So, let’s look into how philosophers have tried to prove the existence of God and discuss about various types of ideologies.
When we think about God what do you all think he looks like? Tall, big beard, in a robe? We all can have different perspectives about that. However, a French monk Anselm of Canterbury thought that God is the best possible thing out there. In his word,
“God is that than which no greater can be conceived.”
His argument was, it is a conceptual truth (or, so
to speak, true by definition) that God is a being than which none greater can
be imagined (that is, the greatest possible being that can be imagined). God is the greatest thing we can
think of. Things can exist only in our imaginations, or they can also exist in
reality. Things that exist in reality are always better than things that exist
only in our imaginations. If God existed only in our imaginations, he wouldn’t
be the greatest thing that we can think of, because God in reality would be
better. Therefore, God must exist in reality. Sounds crazy? I know.
But one of his contemporaries, a fellow French monk named Gaunilo, wasn’t satisfied. Gaunilo of Marmoutier, a monk and contemporary of Anselm’s, is responsible for one of the most important criticisms of Anselm’s argument. He suggested that we could run the same line of reasoning to prove the existence of literally anything we can imagine. He came up with an argument with the exact same formal structure as Anselm’s, to prove that a mythical Lost Island exists.
He proposed: The best island I can imagine is one
where I can swim and relax on a tropical beach and ski down snow-covered
mountains all in one afternoon. I can imagine it, so it must exist. Otherwise,
it wouldn’t be the best island – there would be one better and that one would
have to be real. Basically, Gaunilo said, you could make the same kind of
argument to prove the existence of whatever you wanted most – but it wouldn’t
make it real.
Anselm responded to Gaunilo’s criticism by saying he’d missed the point, that the argument only works for necessary beings, of which there is only one – God. By adding this idea of “a necessary being” to his definition of God, Anselm made God’s existence a part of the definition of God. A necessary being is one that must exist, so Anselm’s himself contradicted his own statement. So, to prove the argument that God exists, you have to assume that he is a necessary being and he exists? Wait what? Yeah. It doesn’t make sense. Other philosophers since Anselm have tried to save his argument by tweaking it in various ways, and dissenters have continued trying to deflate them.
There is also a very famous parable that I love, called the “The Parable of The Invisible Gardener”, which was published by Antony Flew in 1968. This has become famous for its supposed devastating critique of Christianity and other faith systems.
According to the Parable,
Once upon a time, There were two explorers who
return to a garden after a long absence, and notice that a few of its plants
are still thriving. One explorer says, “Some gardener must tend this plot while
we were gone.” The other explorer
agrees. So, they pitch their tents and agree to wait to see if a gardener shows
After some time passes, they see no gardener, so one of the explorer says: “The gardener must be invisible!” So they set up a barbed-wire fence. They electrify it. They patrol with bloodhounds. (For they remember how H. G. Wells’ The Invisible Man could be both smelt and touched though he could not be seen.) However, no one is found, no shrieks ever suggest that some intruder has received a shock. No movements of the wire ever betray an invisible climber. The bloodhounds never give cry.
Yet still the Believer is not convinced. So
the first explorer claims “But there is a gardener! the gardener must be invisible,
intangible and unsmellable, a gardener who comes secretly to look after the
garden which he loves.”
At last the Sceptic despairs, “Just how does what
you call an invisible, intangible, eternally elusive gardener differ from an
imaginary gardener or even from no gardener at all?”
I am sure you must have guessed who the gardener
was, our beloved God.
Haven’t we all wondered what our
purpose in life is? We all want to have a sense of meaning in our lives,
something that defines our purpose to be born. Is it to get
that million-dollar house you have been eyeing on? To become the CEO of some
corporate house? Or for some is it more abstract? To find love? To
connect with God? What is it? Every human craves or needs a
Just like others, I have pondered upon this thought a lot, maybe more than others. I used to believe that every human being was born with a purpose, something given to us by God. A purpose to fulfill throughout our life, something exclusively for each one of us. However, with growing up I realized it’s not so simple. With all the discrepancies in the world. I wasn’t so sure anymore that every human did in fact have a purpose. I couldn’t understand what purpose God had in his mind for the two-year-old little girl getting raped, facing trauma even before she could properly stand on her feet or the purpose of the man who isn’t able to afford a single meal in a day.
But does this mean we have no purpose? I doubt
that. I have started to believe that our purpose is self-made i.e. we define
our own purpose in life. This could be that million-dollar house, the job you
want, to find your soul mate, to become an artist, to land the job you wanted, etc.
It could be anything you want it to be. However, Aristotle and Plato believed
that every human has an essence which is pre-determined before we are
even born. Which meant that we all had pre-determined purpose given to us by
God. This belief is known as essentialism and was very popular till the late 19th century until existentialism
“Existence precedes Essence”
Such a philosophy was given by Jean Paul Sartre. Sartre said that our “existence precedes essence”, that is only by existing and acting a certain way do we give meaning to our lives. The word essence can be understood as some core properties or something essential for a thing to what it is. For example, shoes could be made of leather, rubber, cloth, etc it doesn’t matter. What matters is it should have a sole so that we can walk with the help of it. Sole is the essence of shoes. But for humans, we weren’t born with any essence. As a result, we are born into a world where we and our actions lack any real inherent importance. We define our purpose on our own after we are born.
Now the problem that arises is if there is no
pre-determined purpose of our existence, the world wasn’t created for a reason,
there was no particular reason for us to exist or for us to be made and if
there is no reason for all of this to exist, there are no absolutes to abide
by: No order, No rules, No cosmic justice, No fairness, No moral rights and
wrongs. In fact, the French philosopher Albert Camus went so far as to say “The
literal meaning of life is whatever you’re doing that prevents you from killing
What Sartre believed was that we all have ‘Freedom’. For many of freedom means a good thing but according to him, we all are painfully and shockingly free. If there are no guidelines or paths to follow, we all are free to invent our own moral code to live by. Everything is terrifyingly possible because there is no pre-ordained purpose or reason to anything. In the course of fully realizing our freedom, we will come up against what Sartre calls the ‘anguish’ of existence. Everything is (terrifyingly) possible because nothing has any pre-ordained, God-given sense of purpose. Humans are just making it up as they go along and are free to cast aside the shackles at any moment. There is nothing in the non-human order of the world called ‘marriage’ or ‘job’. These are just labels we have put on things and are – as proper existentialists – free to take them off again. If there are no guidelines or paths to follow, we all are free to invent our own moral code to live by. He thought that we all are condemned to be free, something which is a huge awful burden.
So, if there is no purpose no reason to
all this, all authorities are fake, how do we live? Sartre said we all can live
by our own Authenticity. Your choice – no matter what it is, is the only
true choice, provided that you make it authentically, determined by values you
choose to accept, morals you decide to live by.
It is unknown whether the universe, with its countless galaxies, stars and planets, has a deeper meaning or not, but the ones with humans living on it might not have an actual reason. We all have manufactured a lie that life has a purpose to be more comfortable with the meaninglessness and uncertainty of our lives. The shocking part is that our pursuit of happiness and finding meaning and all the good things could be just another reproductive mechanism, intended to prevent suicide as a result of chronic depression caused by being aware of life not having meaning.
But wait ! there is hope yet…….
When you look at it the other way, if the world is inherently devoid of purpose, you can choose to imbue to it whatever purpose you want. I believe that we define our own purpose and choose our own moral code to live by. This works not a personal level, but also on a global scale, If the world is going to have anything that we value like justice or order, we going to have to put it there ourselves. Otherwise, those things won’t exist. There are no genuine authorities, or cosmic justice or consequences to any of our actions. The only justice we receive is from the authorities we follow like our governments, police, etc, which we have created on our own.
Though as said previously, creating meaning is our coping mechanism to survive in this world, but it will at least allow us to enjoy whatever time we have on this planet alive.
Thus, the only way to live is what you define right and wrong, you yourself should be able to choose the right path to follow. Live authentically, live to help others, live to be happy, live to follow your passions, do whatever you wish to do as long as it doesn’t harm any other being. This world is pretty fucked up so let’s not fuck it up further.