149: THE REALIST AND NON-REALIST VIEWS OF GOD

“Zingcreed, a Christian/Atheist manifesto; thinking aloud about religion – a personal polemic by Peter Turner, M.A., M.Sc.”

The real-ist view of God is the view found in traditional theology: God is an objective being outside of ourselves. He is real.

According to modern theologians such as Don Cupitt (i) and Lloyd Geering (ii) God is the  ‘mythical embodiment of all that one is concerned with in the spiritual life.’ This is the nonreal-ist view of God. He has no objective reality. He is nonreal. According to this school of thought, all ‘God-talk’ is a symbolic language which, though originating in ancient mythology, may still be found useful in order to refer to the highest ideals, values and aspirations to which we feel obliged to give our allegiance.”

According to Geering, the nonrealist view can be traced back to William of Ockham (1285-1349)through Luther and Feuerbach. However, the statement “Let God be the name of the highest reality one can conceive” comes close to the ontological argument for the existence of God. This is why, to the atheist, who may also lay claim to high ideals, values and aspirations, it all seems like sleight of hand, reminiscent of Tillich talking about God being  “the depth of our being”. A case of ‘Whatever you may think you believe, we know you actually believe in God all the time without knowing it’. Deceitful if you ask me; respect our views and our intelligence please. And what is meant by ‘the spiritual life’? Is this not just a usefully vague 19th century term? Isn’t God just a metaphor – or a conditioned reflex?
(For a more positive take on God, see my blog of 4 September 2013 called “Is God the fifth force in the Universe?”)

To me, a jesusite non-theist, God is just an unnecessary complication, a label one can discard without losing anything essential at all.

Sources:

(i) Cupitt, D. “Taking leave of God” (1981)
(ii) Geering, L. “Christianity without God” Polebridge Press (2002)

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