My friends find my position with regard to atheism difficult to comprehend although I have in many of my writings tried to make it plain.
I am wholly on the side of atheists in their rejection of the idea of a personal god, a transcendent god, or a creator apart from the world he or she created. But I cannot go along with my atheist friends when they reduce all reality to the stuff of the objective world by whatever name we may call it. (Of course old Matter is more dead than Nietzsche’s god.)
In the first place, I am wholly with Kant in holding that all we know of the objective world is confined to the appearances presented in our perceptions. We can know nothing of any reality beyond, behind, above, or at the beginning or origin of the phenomena. (I maintain that Socrates had anticipated Kant in this.) This should have silenced not only theologians and dogmatic metaphysicians but also and more importantly those scientists who think they can discover the origin of the world. Scientists can and will eventually give us a reasonable account, a good account, of how our cosmos came to be. But whatever the cosmos came out of had to be before it gave being to the cosmos. That beginning before all beginning is outside the jurisdiction of human reason or pure reason in Kant’s terminology.
Philosophy proper is not concerned with all of that. All of that is a world of shadows as Plato said. Philosophy is concerned with our inner reality, with the realities of our dreams and values and creative ideas. It is these that constitute our characteristically human life.
Among those creative ideas is the idea of God, an idea that has played and continues to play an important role in the inner life of human beings. That God idea, what Plato called the Form of the Good, does not represent or stand for an actual thing in the outer world. The God idea, the Form of the Good, is a myth in which we clothe our insight into our inner reality, because we cannot otherwise give utterance to that inner reality.
It is that valuable God idea, that all-valuable insight into my inner reality, that my atheist friends want to deprive me from.
Cairo, 11 June 2013.