Comment on Grayling on God
Granted that the doctrines of religions “have their roots in the superstitions and fancies” of persons who lived long ago. We have to discard those superstitions. But those superstitions grew out of a compelling urge to answer certain questions. And if we throw away the questions along with the fanciful answers, we end up with a poorer, shallower Weltanschauung. I admit that those questions cannot have definitive answers: neither empirical science nor pure reason can provide those answers. Ask Kant. So, shall we give up? No!
Religion is a “man-made phenomenon”, but it is equally a man-making phenomenon. Those old superstition-mongers were seeking a meaning to their world. They were wrong in thinking they were finding that meaning in the world, but they were wiser than they knew in putting meaning into the world. We must keep puzzling about ultimate reasons, meanings, values, and keep creating myths about all that. Plato is the greatest philosopher because he gave no answers but made myths that keep the wonder and the puzzlement alive.
By all means pull down the edifices of dogmatic religions, but don’t tell me to live in a wasteland. Leave me the metaphysical dimension, Spinoza’s God-Nature, Schopenhauer’s Will and Idea, Whitehead’s organic vision of process: these are all myths, but they are myths that enable me to live in a rich, meaningful world, albeit a world that I know to be of our own making.
Plato spoke of a battle of Gods and Giants. What is wrong with the war waged by atheists against religion is that the atheism they advocate is equated with a narrow empiricism: they want us to accept the limits of objective science as the limits of all thought. I want to live in a meaningful world, and meaning is not to be found in the world but is only to be infused into the world by creative thought, by by poetry, art, and a philosophy that dares to wrestle with ultimate, unanswerable questions.
D. R. Khashaba