Is there God in this world?
Warkus' world: is there a god?
When dealing with philosophy, many people expect you to have an opinion on whether there is God or not. I was confronted with this view during my studies and since then again and again. My first column in this series received some indignant comments simply because it included the word "God". Some seem to literally expect that as a philosopher one automatically has to be an atheist.
In fact, in my first semester at university, I had to deal with the question of the existence of God in a compulsory course. In addition, a fellow student dragged me to a seminar called "Evidence of God in the 20th Century". The event contained exactly what it said on the box: We talked for semester about how recent philosophers had tried to prove (or disprove) that God existed.
The way in which philosophers usually deal with God has nothing to do with belief and religion
One could now ask: Isn't God simply a matter of faith? Shouldn't it be left to theology? What does philosophy have to do with him?
To understand this, one has to take a closer look at what happens, for example, in such a seminar on proof of God. The first step is to work out what it actually is whose existence you want to prove or disprove. Objects whose existence one is not sure about must first be defined before one can think in an orderly manner about how best to check whether they exist. This applies to unknown wanted criminals as well as to elementary particles or God.
A question of definition
And even at this point there is a big difference of opinion. Traditionally, European philosophy borrows a certain conception of God from Christianity, namely that of God as an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good person who actively intervenes in world events. But even within the European tradition there are also completely different ideas. For example that of God as a mighty but absent Creator who set the universe in motion and then left it to itself - like a farmer who starts his tractor and then has an extensive breakfast. It is obvious that the existence of a completely absent God is to be discussed differently than that of a God who is at least occasionally active in the world.
It is also possible to argue about the recognized rules of evidence. A classic is, for example, Immanuel Kant's statement that existence is not a property like any other. Before Kant it was (to put it simply) quite common to argue that God as a perfect being by definition must necessarily exist, since a non-existent God would lack something (namely the property of existence).
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