Musings on theism, atheism and consciousness.
My next planned post is going to continue the discussion of theism and atheism.
But my friend Ted Drange pointed out in comment section (please read these and jump in if you like) that my use of the terms theism and atheism may involve some equivocation – using the same term to mean two different things.
The term “God” is sometimes used to refer to a being who thinks and performs actions. Others use the term “God” to refer to “some aspect of reality like creativity or the essence of love, or ‘the ground of being.’ ”
A person who believes in God in the first sense is clearly a theist.
A person who rejects the reality of god in both senses, is clearly an atheist.
But how do we describe the person who believes in God in the second sense but not the first?
The influential Protestant theologian, Paul Tillich used the term “ground of being” to denote “God beyond the God of theism.” This statement reminds me of Plato who wrote in The Republic that “The Good” is beyond being.”
When we push these ultimate questions, we get so far from ordinary experience that our language becomes inadequate. I think the key question is whether or not fundamental reality is conscious and purposive and hence whether there is purpose in the universe. I am striving to contrast a materialist view with one that is purposeful or teleological. I am not looking to construct a dualism, but rather a view of reality that is infused with purpose as its essential constituent.
I am going on the premise that consciousness constitutes what we mean by “Being,” what Aristotle and St. Thomas meant by “God,” and what is the source of what scientist mean by natural laws. When we write about that which stands beyond our experience, we can use analogies, that is, we can compare things that are not exactly alike but have something in common.
I don’t know if “consciousness” is the best word that we have to describe the most fundamental reality, but it is the best one that I can think of.