From a-theistic to non-theistic Religiosity

  • user warning: Table 'cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: SELECT data, created, headers, expire, serialized FROM cache_filter WHERE cid = '2:022309d3f2b67bc31e86409dca82439c' in /home2/secrecco/www/includes/cache.inc on line 26.
  • user warning: Table 'cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p class=\"MsoNormal rtecenter\"><b style=\"mso-bidi-font-weight:normal\"><span style=\"font-size:14.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt;mso-ansi-language:EN-US\">From a-theistic to non-theistic Religiosity</span></b></p>\n<p class=\"MsoNormal rtecenter\"><a href=\"http://upers.kuleuven.be/en/titel/9789061869863\" style=\"text-decoration: underline; font-weight: bold; color: rgb(102, 102, 34); \">Jan Van der Veken</a> (Prof. Em. in Metaphysics and Theology, KULeuven)</p>\n<p>&nbsp;</p>\n<p><strong>Outline:</strong></p>\n<div>A-theism is a referential term, as is theism.</div>\n<div>Henri Dum&eacute;ry: &ldquo;On est toujours l&rsquo;ath&eacute;e de quelqu&rsquo;un&rdquo;.</div>\n<p>Anaxagoras, Socrates, the first Christians have been accused of being irreligious, and even &ldquo;atheists&rdquo;.</p>\n<div>&nbsp;</div>\n<div><u><strong>I. A-theism should be read as a-&ldquo;theism&rdquo;.</strong></u></div>\n<p>The inverted comma&rsquo;s (&ldquo; &ldquo;)&nbsp;refer to reported speech (indirect discourse). According to Frege, indirect discourse refers to the customary sense of an expression.</p>\n<div>&ldquo;Is there a God?&rdquo; might be a very&nbsp;ambiguous expression.</div>\n<p>1.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &ldquo;Is there a God?&rdquo; seems to be a question about &ldquo;un certain nomm&eacute; Dieu&rdquo; (R. Collingwood. That is not at all the case. In fact, for Collingwood it refers to the absolute presuppositions of our culture</p>\n<p>2.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; According Charles Hartshorne (1897-2000) the God-questiuon is not a contingent state of affairs. He argues convincingly that God belongs to modal logic (the logic of necessity or of impossibility). Existence might not be a predicate; but necessary existence might very well be attributed to being as a whole (Parmenides&rsquo; intuition). The transition of absolute nothingness to Being is unthinkable.</p>\n<p>3.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The question &ldquo;Is there a God?&rdquo; reduces God to a being, may be a super-being, but still a being. We should be aware of Heidegger&rsquo;s criticism of the ontotheological structure of Western metaphysics. This leads, according to Heidegger, to &ldquo;Seinsvergessenheit&rdquo; (oblivion of Being). In any case, after Heidegger we should not conceive of God as a being amongst beings.</p>\n<p>4.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The question &ldquo;Is there a God?&rdquo; seems to accept that both parties in the dialogue agree upon the meaning of the word God (i.e. its customary sense). This customary sense is expressed in a descriptive definition.&nbsp;E.g. B. Russell and Fr. Copleston In Naming a necessity Saul Kripke points out that descriptive definitions may be incomplete, and even partially false, and still they may refer correctly. When we apply Kripke&rsquo;s approach to religious language, we should asked where and when the word God has been used for the first time (in our culture). The &ldquo;act of baptism&rdquo; of religious terms is to be found in &ldquo;founding&rdquo; religious experiences (e.g. the Exodus-experience).</p>\n<p>5.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Before all, a-&ldquo;theism&rdquo; is rather a recent term. It refers to a certain type of theism, which should rather be called deism (God as the &ldquo;grand architecte de l&rsquo;univers&rdquo;). Within contemporary theology, there has been a strong opposition against this type of theism. (E.g. Dorothee S&ouml;lle, A-theistisch an Gott glauben.)&nbsp;</p>\n<p>For all these reasons a-theistic religiosity does not seem to be a workable idea.</p>\n<div>&nbsp;</div>\n<p><u><strong>II. Non-theistic religiosity seems a more adequate term.</strong></u></p>\n<div>According A. N. Whitehead, in his Religion in the making, religion does not include necessary the concept of God.</div>\n<p>For Whitehead there is more agreement between religious people, that there is &ldquo;a rightness in things, partially conformed to and partially disregarded&rdquo; (RM 65). For Whitehead Religion is about values (&ldquo;God is the valuation of the world&rdquo;), or more traditionally about the true, the good and the beautiful.</p>\n<p>Now there are many ways to give an account about the truth, the good and the beautiful.</p>\n<p>Non-theistic religiosity can accept an idea of God (eg a truly incarnational triune theology), or it can conceive of &ldquo;Chance&rdquo; as a kind of a lay miracle (Iris Fry) or stick to agnosticism with regard to the ultimate questions.</p>\n<div>In mysticism there may be an agreement that all knowledge ends in non-knowledge (Meister Eckhart; &nbsp;The Cloud of Unknowing). In this sense, non-theistic religiosity might be a source of inspiration for believers and non-believers alike.</div>\n<div>&nbsp;</div>\n<div>&nbsp;</div>\n<div><strong>References: </strong></div>\n<div>&nbsp;</div>\n<p>Michael J. Buckley, sj. At the Origins of Modern Atheism, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1987.</p>\n<p>Traditional Theism and its Modern Alternatives. Ed. By Svend Andersen with an introduction by D.Z. Phillips, Aarhus University Press, 1994.</p>\n<p>Jan Van der Veken, The Referent of the Word &ldquo;God&rdquo;, in Tradition and Renewal. The Centennial of Louvain&rsquo;s Institute of Philosophy, ed. David A. Boileau &amp; John A. Dick, Leuven University Press, 1992, p. 153-165.</p>\n<div>&nbsp;</div>\n<div>&nbsp;</div>\n<div>&nbsp;</div>\n<p>&nbsp;</p>\n', created = 1638614138, expire = 1638700538, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '2:022309d3f2b67bc31e86409dca82439c' in /home2/secrecco/www/includes/cache.inc on line 109.

From a-theistic to non-theistic Religiosity

Jan Van der Veken (Prof. Em. in Metaphysics and Theology, KULeuven)

 

Outline:

A-theism is a referential term, as is theism.
Henri Duméry: “On est toujours l’athée de quelqu’un”.

Anaxagoras, Socrates, the first Christians have been accused of being irreligious, and even “atheists”.

 
I. A-theism should be read as a-“theism”.

The inverted comma’s (“ “) refer to reported speech (indirect discourse). According to Frege, indirect discourse refers to the customary sense of an expression.

“Is there a God?” might be a very ambiguous expression.

1.     “Is there a God?” seems to be a question about “un certain nommé Dieu” (R. Collingwood. That is not at all the case. In fact, for Collingwood it refers to the absolute presuppositions of our culture

2.     According Charles Hartshorne (1897-2000) the God-questiuon is not a contingent state of affairs. He argues convincingly that God belongs to modal logic (the logic of necessity or of impossibility). Existence might not be a predicate; but necessary existence might very well be attributed to being as a whole (Parmenides’ intuition). The transition of absolute nothingness to Being is unthinkable.

3.     The question “Is there a God?” reduces God to a being, may be a super-being, but still a being. We should be aware of Heidegger’s criticism of the ontotheological structure of Western metaphysics. This leads, according to Heidegger, to “Seinsvergessenheit” (oblivion of Being). In any case, after Heidegger we should not conceive of God as a being amongst beings.

4.     The question “Is there a God?” seems to accept that both parties in the dialogue agree upon the meaning of the word God (i.e. its customary sense). This customary sense is expressed in a descriptive definition. E.g. B. Russell and Fr. Copleston In Naming a necessity Saul Kripke points out that descriptive definitions may be incomplete, and even partially false, and still they may refer correctly. When we apply Kripke’s approach to religious language, we should asked where and when the word God has been used for the first time (in our culture). The “act of baptism” of religious terms is to be found in “founding” religious experiences (e.g. the Exodus-experience).

5.     Before all, a-“theism” is rather a recent term. It refers to a certain type of theism, which should rather be called deism (God as the “grand architecte de l’univers”). Within contemporary theology, there has been a strong opposition against this type of theism. (E.g. Dorothee Sölle, A-theistisch an Gott glauben.) 

For all these reasons a-theistic religiosity does not seem to be a workable idea.

 

II. Non-theistic religiosity seems a more adequate term.

According A. N. Whitehead, in his Religion in the making, religion does not include necessary the concept of God.

For Whitehead there is more agreement between religious people, that there is “a rightness in things, partially conformed to and partially disregarded” (RM 65). For Whitehead Religion is about values (“God is the valuation of the world”), or more traditionally about the true, the good and the beautiful.

Now there are many ways to give an account about the truth, the good and the beautiful.

Non-theistic religiosity can accept an idea of God (eg a truly incarnational triune theology), or it can conceive of “Chance” as a kind of a lay miracle (Iris Fry) or stick to agnosticism with regard to the ultimate questions.

In mysticism there may be an agreement that all knowledge ends in non-knowledge (Meister Eckhart;  The Cloud of Unknowing). In this sense, non-theistic religiosity might be a source of inspiration for believers and non-believers alike.
 
 
References:
 

Michael J. Buckley, sj. At the Origins of Modern Atheism, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1987.

Traditional Theism and its Modern Alternatives. Ed. By Svend Andersen with an introduction by D.Z. Phillips, Aarhus University Press, 1994.

Jan Van der Veken, The Referent of the Word “God”, in Tradition and Renewal. The Centennial of Louvain’s Institute of Philosophy, ed. David A. Boileau & John A. Dick, Leuven University Press, 1992, p. 153-165.