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April 10, 2006

The Idea of God

Is it really as pretty an idea as our tortured, intermittently immoral atheist Ivan Karamazov maintains in Dostoyevsky's novel?Dostoyevsky.jpg

"If there were no God, he would have to be invented. And what's strange, what would be marvellous, is not that God should really exist; the marvel is that such an idea, the idea of the necessity of God, could enter the head of such a savage, vicious beast as man. So holy it is, so touching, so wise and so great a credit it does to man."

Perhaps the less savage and vicious you find humankind, the less touching, wise and necessary you find the idea of God. Or is it just that we live in an age when ideals -- notions of the pure, the perfect, the holy -- seem cheap; when the great challenge is to build a morality, a meaningful existence, a civilization on swampier, more natural ground?

Posted by Mitchell Stephens at April 10, 2006 1:36 PM


depends on the god(s). i don't think the god from the old testament is a holy, touching, and wise idea ... mostly agree on the savage beast part ... i think some religions afterwards have invented gods that could sort of be described in this way.

Posted by: seth at April 10, 2006 5:53 PM

I hope to find a newspaper article written, I believe in the 60s, entitled "The Idea of God" - that I didn't read at the time because I was so angry toward even the idea of God - as utter, sinister enslavement.
Today, I see the idea of God as one that we are behooved by our nature to contemplate deeply. This, because to me, who has "seen" only a cross old man sitting on a cloud, such a vision of human origin is patently literally false but not without important symbolic meaning.
To me, Atheism provides guidance only as pointer toward human intellect - but it doesn't even approach meaning that is relevant to guidance by "the spirit" - whatever that is - that animates us - I feel, me, at least.

Posted by: Dean at June 7, 2006 7:27 AM

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