There was a discussion which asked the question of which of the three different “proofs” of God‘s existence was the most accurate, or even believable. The background reading for this discussion is an understanding of Ontological Proof, Cosmological Proof, and the Argument from Design. Here are my thoughts, and a response to one question follows. Please comment and share, it’s a topic we should all consider, intelligently.
This assignment calls for choosing the best of three popular philosophical options regarding the proof that God exists. The trouble with this assignment, for me, is that all the explanations are incomplete, and any further explanation must also be deemed incomplete, when we consider one fact that will never change: We each will never truly know about what happens after death until we die, and for whatever reason, the selected God of any religion has not spoken directly to anybody in any manner that yields documentable proof of their existence. Believers are left with symbolism and deductive reasoning to satisfy personal desires to believe what they believe in is true and correct (i.e. the idea that God may talk to some in dreams, the notion that medical abnormality cures could only be completed through divine intervention, even when professional medical review indicates otherwise).
With that being said, the best of the three ideas, in my opinion, is the Cosmological Proof, which states that everything that exists only exists because it was caused to exist by some prior event (Mosser, 2010). Anybody in this classroom who has an understanding of my general beliefs towards religion will understand that I chose this claim simply because it attempts to put a mathematical or scientific algorithm to prove God exists. The claim makes logical sense: a child will have two parents, and a flower will develop from a germinated seed. We have a sense of certainty to these ideas, but as Mosser (2010) explained in the text, there is no documentation in the claim about why the first cause, God, does not have parents.
Regarding the inherent necessity to prove the existence of God, Mosser (2010) could not have said it any better:
As is probably obvious by now, the debates over religion, and specifically over the existence of God, appear to be endless. For every argument defending a specific way of establishing the existence of God, a powerful criticism seems to arise; a response is made to that criticism, a counter-response is made to that response, and the debate threatens to become interminable. (p. 213)
We should all be able to agree that in general terms, people want to believe that what they believe is correct. I certainly would be a bit embarrassed if one day I learn that after all these years, two and two actually don’t equal four, for example. We can expand that argument a bit to possibly explain why there is a ton of violence regarding this topic. Although science will demonstrate that over 99 percent of each of our DNA strands are identical at birth, we are vastly different in our opinions. It is natural that every educated person on this planet wants to be the one with the correct answer, and that further explains why philosophers have been desperately seeking the correct response. For me, I still maintain that we will each individually find out the answer to all our questions at death. At that point, we will either learn that there is an eternal afterlife, a rebirth in another body (hopefully at a higher caste for me!), or we are simply out like a light bulb. For me, I hope to be somewhere with my family, my dogs, and my friends.
The question posed was: This example also illustrates how important hope is in accepting and maintaining beliefs that are, for all intents and purposes, accepted as undeniable fact/truth. In your view, does this characteristic hope come into play for an atheist? In other words, does the atheist “hope” that his/her belief that there is no higher being, too? Thoughts?
In my opinion, your linking of the word “hope” to atheism is not something an atheist would readily accept as a personal trait. My experience with modern atheists and agnostic people is that they do not have faith in their understanding of the world, but instead, they believe they are correct to a mathematical or scientific level of certainty. Using this week and last week as an example, the atheist believes creationism is bogus because they have a mathematic and scientific understanding of evolution.
Going back to my quote and your question, I would not discount that there is some secret level of hope amongst all beliefs, even those which discount another belief structure (that, in itself, is still a belief). Atheists are people too, and that means that generally they “want” to be right about their belief structure. In this sense, a person’s wants is synonymous with what a person “hopes” to have, or possess.