Can God exist in an existential world?

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In an existentialist world, where everything revolves around the individual and essentially “every man is an island” (as opposed to John Donne’s “no man is an island” concept), is there any place for God? The existentialists themselves disagree on this particular point, with theist and atheist philosophers taking up stand points on either side of the argument.

Some have said that this world is too small, too constricted, for there to be two free “realities”. Human freedom cannot coexist with divine freedom, and of course it would be illogical and improbable for there to be no such freedom whatsoever. Some see a thesable tension between divine and human freedom. Sartre stated that humans are indeed free and therefore God cannot exist. Indeed, if we do believe that humans are free the notion of God becomes difficult to support. God is by definition omniscient and omnipotent, and so if we have this liberty then the whole idea of the divine being we refer to as God simply ceases to function properly. However, it is possible that we do not have complete freedom. Determinism states that everything we do is the result of a long chain of events, and so we are in fact no more free than puppets. Incidentally, determinism offers a fairly strong piece of evidence regarding the existence of God, as this chain of events must have originated from something. 

Nevertheless, we are talking about an existentialist world. So the problem remains; freedom vs freedom. If God is omnipotent then we are not free and so our personal existence is detrimentally impacted. If we are free, the whole image of God becomes warped. There is however, in my opinion, a way to manouvre around this.  I presume you have seen or at least heard of the comedy “Bruce Allmighty”, where Jim Carrey (or rather the man portrayed by mr. Carrey) is allowed to take on the role of God. He can do absolutely anything he chooses and has absolute power except over free will. He cannot influence human freedom. In a way, this solves the problem admirably. Consider for a moment that there are some “rules” which even God must adhere to, much like in the previously mentioned movie. Naturally, this would impact his omnipotence, but not if it was God himself who made the rules. You may have heard of this concept before, albeit on a less divine scale. It’s sometimes known as discipline. If God where to make the choice to allow us to have our freedom and restrained himself from influencing it, we could have a certain coexistence between divine and human freedom. You could still say that God’s omnipotence would be reduced in this situation, or even that he would not be completely “free” due to his self-imposed limitations. Nevertheless, they would be self-imposed restrictions. God would have exerted his freedom to put this limit into the place. This solves the problem of divine freedom clashing with human freedom rather admirably in my humble opinion.

Existentialism seems to support the idea of us all being “disconnected”; being complete and utter individuals. Perhaps this is true, perhaps this is why many of us are constantly striving to be accepted by others, in order to experience some kind of connection with other people no matter how fleeting this connection is (this is more probably due to us originally being pack animals before evolution remade us in our current model, but that is a matter to be discussed in a science essay). This would suggest that we are also disconnected from God. However, the idea of God is that he is, to a fashion, apart of us all. That we are all interconnected, even with that divine being. If we are complete individuals, entirely disconnected from everything but ourselves, is God not just some abstract concept floating around aimlessly in space? However, things do not truly need to be connected to be a part of a system. The sun does not need to be “connected” with the chlorophyll in plants in order to power their photosynthesis. 

So, I believe a conclusion has been reached. Though there are certain kinks which could potentially make it impossible for God to exist in a fully existential world, with some compromises it would most certainly be possible. And, of course, it seems unlikely that a world would be fully existential to start with.

Very well, that would be all, thank you my dear readers!

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One response »

  1. Thank you for the article, I personally respect everyone who takes the time to organize and display their honest philosophical ideas to “the world” so to say. I will do my best to present my take on “Freedom” with as much clarity as possible.

    To begin, I will give my personal definition of “freedom”: a state that is without any boundaries whatsoever…the end. Therefore, any “thing” with any kind of boundary at all (i.e. mass, weight, dimension, color, etc) is necessarily non-qualified for the state of freedom.

    Instead, humans exist in a spectrum of “limitations” that are bound by definite “minimum” and “maximum” capacities. For example, any given human has a minimum possible weight and a maximum possible weight as per the limitations of their particular body design. That is to say that a person is no free to weigh “zero lbs” or “70 tons”, rather they must weigh somewhere in the range of their particular minimum and maximum possible weights.

    The same is true for our psycho-spiritual-emotional aspects as well. An individual can only know and experience what they know and are experiencing…peroid. In other words, I can only know what I currently know right now, I can’t know the next new thing I will learn until I learn it (i.e. I am not free to know the knowledge I will have in 5 years from now, at this moment in time). Likewise, I am not free to imagine “anything”, because my imagination is also bound by limitation as well (i.e. I simply can’t imagine the geometry that is standard to the 15th dimension, or what 3 dimensional time would entail, or even something as comparitively simple such as musical notes “H to Z” that are not available to my current senses, etc.). In short, I am bound to this particular identity and all of the limitations associated with it, which is to say that I am not free to break “The Law of Identity”.

    So “limitation” is a constant in the human equation, whereas “freedom” is a (tricky) conceptual mirage. I believe there is a significant psychological difference between having a philosophical model that approaches existential development from a standpoint that accepts and understands limitation as a fact to be worked with vs. a fictional barrier to be overcome on the road to personal freedom. With that said, when an individual gets released from jail they are not “more free”, instead they are “less bound” because limitation is a fact of the individual’s existence, whereas freedom is entirely immeasurable and therefore not a tangible factor in the indivual’s life at all. Likewise, if an individual successfully solves a philosophical conundrum that has haunted them for years, it can be said that they are now “less philosophically bound” vs. “more philosophically free” for the same reasons.

    Thus, freedom is synonymous with realities such as “infinity” and “eternity” which simply can not be fathomed in any way by a linear human mind. We can only say what they are not and never what they are (i.e. time-less, space-less, dimension-less, noun-less, mind-less, sense-less, etc.). So if God is infinite, eternal and free, it is “it-less” and therefore beyond any possible understanding whatsoever.

    Here is the conceptual hard part. God/Infinity/Universal Spirit/Kosmic consciousness/Etc. can choose to become limited without sacrificing its limitless-ness. In other words, it can become finite while remaining infinite in the same way that a calculus professor can choose to do basic math without sacrificing his/her calculus-ness. Thus (to paraphrase Ken Wilber) God transcends and includes all ‘things, dimensions, etc.” in the same way that calculus transcends and includes basic math.

    In short, the substrate of all things is no-thing.

    Thank you for the opportunity to philosophize.

    Erik

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