While the world goes its self-destructive way – not entirely because humans differ in their beliefs about the nature of and existence or nonexistence of God – we have yet another book by a contemporary philosopher, riffling through the dusty bones of ancient arguments that can never be settled, because one opinion supported by inconclusive evidence can never disprove another opinion supported by inconclusive evidence.
The author, the widely known skeptic Richard Dawkins, chooses to take easy potshots at the traditional concept of God as presented in the Bible, the tribal tapestry of which contains threads that cannot, understandably enough, be neatly sorted out by logical analysis.
He also goes on to deal with the usual proofs presented by theologians for the existence of God – first trotted out by Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica, the Aristotelian riff in which he famously argued backward from his forgone conclusions.
But now let’s skip to a few questions that actually matter.
Is the philosophical urgency of the day about the nature of, existence or non-existence of God? Can we, the grumbling creatures of finitude, even credibly analyze such enormous questions? Or are we left to sustain our beliefs, pro or con, with a leap to faith, the precipice remaining unspecified?
Now, let’s stop fooling around and ask the most consequential question. Does the peace of the world and our survival depend on resolving the ancient logical conundrums about the nature and existence of God?
It seems to us that even a country bumpkin sitting on his porch, noshing on a sprout of homegrown wheat, would realize that the far more urgent question is how the human race can be encouraged to develop sufficient reverence for the world as we behold it – and to know that it is through such reverence that we can save it from ourselves, as well as most logically worship whatever its ultimate source may be, whether or not that ever-wondrous hope is sitting on a proximate cloud, overseeing our doings, or has long since departed to play planetary billiards in another universe.
Of course, there are intriguing subsidiary questions. What if the ultimate source of all we behold, finite but really quite fastastic, decided we ought to have enough intelligence to conduct our own lives, without constant supervision, as if we were deficient children?
Oh, my, don’t tell us we’re expected to function like responsible adults, while we let questions about God be answered as only silence amid the gifts and pangs of everyday life may answer them!
What? We're free to do as we like? Well, then, let's like what we do.
Tom Attea, humorist and creator of NewsLaugh.com , has had six shows produced Off-Broadway. Critics have called his writing “delightfully funny, " “witty, " with “good, genuine laughs" and “great humor and ebullience. "