Introduction: Take My Musings Lightly

The question of God’s existence is one which has been asked, I think, for about as long as questions have been asked, or at least not long after. Many people have attempted to prove God the way one proves a species of frog exists: to go out, demonstrate he is there, and settle the issue one way or the other. I don’t have so much confidence in my ability to do so. If you do not believe in God, I am not very sure that my arguments here will convince you. If you don’t want my arguments to convince you, I am pretty sure they won’t, in fact. So why write this out at all? To be honest, it mostly began as a selfish venture. Having believed in God for a very long time, I was curious as to why. What convinced me? What made me believe in God? As Anselm would say, I did not begin writing this from a position of doubt but from a position of “faith seeking understanding.”

Now, that doesn’t mean that I have always had faith, or that I always believed in God. On the other hand, unlike some Christian philosophers who are very impressive to me, I can’t claim to have ever quite been an atheist. I did, for a little while, try to be an atheist, but I admit readily it was pretty much an experiment, and I doubted its success the whole time. Coming to believe in a larger “something,” I spent a long time searching before I came to be relatively settled in the faith I now espouse. Of course, faith has become something of a dirty word in our culture, but I am not going to defend that word. Faith is really not the subject of this book. All I will say about faith is that if you do not have it, you believe in nothing, no science, religion, or lack of either. Even to believe in skepticism is to believe in the power of doubt. So do not chase me out of your realm of inquiry because I have faith. We all do. That’s just life. The question is not whether we have faith, but what we have faith in.

I have faith in God. I am not writing this as an apology in either sense of the word. I am not sorry that I believe in God, and I am not trying to defend myself or anybody else. All I am doing is, because I am curious, making an explanation for my own belief, as I have gathered it from life experience, from consideration, and from the pages of those whom I have read. Although many of my thoughts are unoriginal in the sense that I have encountered them in some form elsewhere, I don’t claim to know that anybody else holds this set of ideas set out the particular way they are here; they probably don’t. So I shouldn’t be made to speak for all theists, especially where I fail to do justice to the view I share with them. I’m also not claiming that my reasons are better than anyone else’s. My hope for sharing these ideas at all is not to convince, but to provide another tool for the complicated process of thinking about the world around us. There are plenty of other great tools, far better than this one, but I suspect that the world has enough room for more ideas. Tyranny is the result of less ideas, not more, in my opinion.

It will be wondered, of course, what the sources for these ideas are. I have kept most of this as a sort of journal, writing this introduction retrospectively about halfway through the project. To be honest, because these are ideas I’ve chewed on at some length, I can’t say that I know the origin of each idea. Very close to my heart are Christian thinkers like C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald, and Anselm. Among Greco-Roman philosophers, I do of course count Plato, Aristotle and Boethius as prime influences, while among medieval thinkers I have always preferred Anselm the best, with a good appreciation for Aquinas and John Duns Scotus. Of course, Immanuel Kant, George Berkeley, and Descartes have long informed my thoughts on almost every matter. Thinkers Christian orthodoxy might deem heretical who have mattered a great deal to my process of inquiry have been Nietzsche, Baruch Spinoza, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and William Blake. Of thinkers more current, I have been very interested in David Chalmers, Alistair McGrath, and Alvin Plantinga. And there are innumerable others, of course, to whom I owe a tremendous debt, least of all for this little piece of writing and more for the hours of delightful contemplation I owe them. Which exact moments in my argument come from which thinkers I might be able to figure out, were I to try, and those readers who know those named well could probably do so even more carefully than I. My desire has not been, however, to write great scholarship, because this is not a scholarly book.

This book is written for anyone who is interested, and I want the ideas to be fore-grounded over their source. I also do not want any of my logical failures to be blamed on any writers greater than I am, for I am sure that I have not understood them as well as I would like to. So where you note similarities in their thought and mine, suppose that I’ve read them well where I am making sense, and getting them wrong when my arguments devolve into nonsense. But my goal is not to write an account of the history of proofs of God here. I may mention one of these thinkers here or there where I think it is useful, but I will try and abstain from that for the most part. This is a far friendlier, informal exposition of what one person has found in his private musings, sharing them at the risk of ridicule, and in the hopes that someone will find them interesting at least, useful at best. Though I do not hide from my stance as a Christian, let me emphasize that this is not an argument in favor of Christianity per se, though it is, overall, a belief in a God which I think highly amenable to the tenets of that faith.

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