In reaction to a recent article by John G. Messerly of Seattle University on “the shaky intellectual foundations of faith”, I wrote the following in social media:

“It’s folklore now that it would never have occurred to anyone to doubt God’s existence if the theologians had not tried so hard to prove it. We’re on the cusp of a reverse trend where philosophers’ ‘knockdown’ arguments against God’s existence is creating a worm of doubt in the minds of many concerning what has been presumably eliminated intellectually. The debatability of God’s existence is never settled any more than the debatability of all things metaphysical, the scientists’ and philosophers’ horizons included. For every argument there’s a counter-argument. What irks me is the confidence I see in so many of these debates that assert the matter closed hiding behind the mantle of open (scientific) inquiry. The question of God is never answered definitively intellectually because the term ‘God’ itself is a vista, not a villa. (And no, this isn’t an argument in favor of God’s existence.)”

This prompted an interesting question on LinkedIn by a colleague at Norwalk Community College, NY, who writes: “Kant covered the reason why your statement is correct, yes?”

My response brings out some of the presuppositions in my initial statement:

“I would love to say I rallied so august a figure as Kant to support my claim but I (pardon the pun) can’t. I suppose the statement can find support in Kant’s epistemology. But without getting into the nitty gritty of all that, I’m not sure whether I’d equate the statement’s ‘correctness’ with his frame. I think I find more utility in the art of proof making than Kant when it comes to God. Proofs are a useful exercise in our society for expressing as rigorously as possible why what we believe may not be ridiculous. But that’s not the same thing as saying what we believe, especially when it comes to God, is always reasonable or even knowable. I appreciate the idiosyncratic, heuristic position of someone as Lonergan who takes God to be the interminable horizon of intelligibility. Still, it’s a position grafted on a specific form of reason that I, for one, never assume to be a knockdown way of eliminating questions and/or doubts. I gravitate to the deconstructionist strategy that cultivates the interstice of doubt and certainty, another name for which can be ‘faith’.”

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