Nathan Schneider on the Value of "Proofs of God"

Nathan Schneider, who has recently written a book about the history of efforts to prove God's existence has an interesting blog post about the real value of discussions about these proofs:

Using the long tradition of so-called proofs about God as an academic performance, or as blunt instruments for culture-warring, means missing out on the most worthwhile stuff they have to offer. The proofs are arguments for a particular claim, it’s true. But they’re also meant to invite us into fresh modes of thinking. They need not be so black-and-white—or, in the boxing ring, win-or-lose. The real question a proof about God was created to address may be not be simply whether or not God exists. More often, it’s something more interesting: What do we mean by God? And what can be achieved with proof?
.  .  . 
 The history of religious proofs is a many-sided story. I hope you’ll agree that this is a worthwhile inheritance, though too often we’ve adopted its worst tendencies while ignoring the best. Until we realize that arguments about something like the existence of God speak to more than just the intellect, and to more than just a yes-or-no question, we can expect that the same old debates will keep coming back without satisfying us—in Sontag’s words, “again and again.”
Read it all here.


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