K.D.: My suggestion is that neither theists nor atheists know whether God exists. And here I don’t just mean that they don’t know for certain, but that they don’t know at all.
It was about God, wasn’t it, that Kant famously wrote “I had to deny knowledge in order to make room for faith”? Whatever it does or doesn’t do for faith, my denial of knowledge here makes room for reasonable views on both sides of the question of whether God exists.
I don’t think the arguments for either theism or atheism lead to knowledge of their conclusions. But there are arguments on both sides from premises that someone might reasonably judge to be plausible. If you find it quite probable that God does not exist, I think it’s perfectly possible that you are reasonable to think as you do. But this doesn’t mean that someone who thinks it is likely that God does exist can’t likewise be reasonable in holding that position.
"In Job," says that coldly truthful writer, the author of Mark Rutherford, "God reminds us that man is not the measure of his creation. The world is immense, constructed on no plan or theory which the intellect of man can grasp. It is transcendent everywhere. This is the burden of every verse, and is the secret, if there be one, of the poem. Sufficient or insufficient, there is nothing more. … God is great, we know not his ways. He takes from us all we have, but yet if we possess our souls in patience, we may pass the valley of the shadow, and come out in sunlight again. We may or we may not! … What more have we to say now than God said from the whirlwind over two thousand five hundred years ago?"
If we turn to the sanguine onlooker, on the other hand, we find that deliverance is felt as incomplete unless the burden be altogether overcome and the danger forgotten. Such onlookers give us definitions that seem to the sombre minds of whom we have just been speaking to leave out all the solemnity that makes religious peace so different from merely animal joys. In the opinion of some writers an attitude might be called religious, though no touch were left in it of sacrifice or submission, no tendency to flexion, no bowing of the head. Any “habitual and regulated admiration,” says Professor J. R. Seeley, “is worthy to be called a religion”; and accordingly he thinks that our Music, our Science, and our so-called ‘Civilization,’ as these things are now organized and admiringly believed in, form the more genuine religions of our time.
In contrast to George Orwell’s 1984, in which the Party strictly controls the “truth,” Lem preferred to depict societies bogged down by excess information and technology. “Freedom of expression sometimes presents a greater threat to an idea,” he writes in his 1968 novel His Master’s Voice, “because forbidden thoughts may circulate in secret, but what can be done when an important fact is lost in a flood of impostors … ?”
Life is short, art long, opportunity fleeting, experience treacherous, judgment difficult.
I am a living, breathing organism signified by the words ‘human being’. I am a material or physical being fairly recognisable over time to me and to others: I am a body. Through my body, I can move, touch, see, hear, taste and smell. The array of physical sensations available to me also includes pain, hunger, thirst, tiredness, injury, sickness, fear, apprehension and pleasure. In this way I experience myself, others and the world around me. However, there is another aspect of me not directly visible or definable. This is the aspect of me which thinks and feels, reflects and judges, remembers and anticipates. Words used to describe this aspect include ‘mind’, ‘spirit’, ‘heart’, ‘soul’, ‘awareness’ and ‘consciousness’. This part of me is aware that I can never be fully known or understood by myself or by others; it notices that although there may be some unchanging essence which is ‘me’, this same ‘me’ is also constantly changing and evolving.
- Kathleen O’Dwyer
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.
The violence of the early universe was so extreme that it would leave space-time itself ringing like a bell.
The availability heuristic helps explain why some issues are highly salient in the public’s mind while others are neglected. People tend to assess the relative importance of issues by the ease with which they are retrieved from memory - and this is largely determined by the extent of coverage in the media.