I find it harder and harder to believe in God. I don't mean that I've been thinking about proofs of his existence and saying, "No, that one is false, and so is that," and concluding that there is no God. It's more that the whole idea looks ready to fall away by itself, like Santa Claus. Even without existing, come to think of it, God could still do a lot of good, like Santa Claus! And I suspect that a lot of people who say they believe in God, don't really. But you must do, since you're putting up this stuff on the net and getting nothing for it. Do you believe rock-solid in the existence of God, and do you never even for a minute suspect that maybe…just maybe…there's nothing up there? - Aidan

You take me out of my depth! I can't reach the bottom; all I can do is splash around! If there were some facts that might prove the existence of God, or some other facts that might disprove it, we could try to sort out the two kinds. But for someone who believes in God everything proves (or at least shows, or is consistent with) the existence of God, while for someone who doesn't, everything equally fails to prove it. The claim is that God is the creator of all that exists, so in the nature of the case nothing could count against God's existence. But equally, that is just what removes the basis of all argument, for and against! That's why I say I can't put my foot down and touch any solid stones or even sand…!

There are probably very few people who stop believing in God because of a purely intellectual argument. It's much more common for belief in God just to slip, like a coat slipping off the shoulder; or like belief in Santa Claus, as you say. In fact the loss of belief in Santa Claus could be a practice run for the other! I remember a famous description by Sartre of his own loss of belief. I have it here. "One morning in 1917, at La Rochelle, I was waiting for some companions who were supposed to accompany me to the lycée; they were late. Soon I could think of nothing more to distract myself, and I decided to think about the Almighty. He at once tumbled down into the blue sky and vanished without explanation.… I have never since had the least inclination to revive him." It was the same Sartre who was to write the epoch-making book Being and Nothingness.

I'm sorry for quoting passages from writers, but I want you to see that I'm not just concocting ideas to meet your question. May I bring up the words of a writer who was more than a writer - a man who was ablaze with God, if ever there was one. Meister Eckhart wrote in the 14th century: "Anything you see, or anything that comes within your ken, that is not God, because God is neither this nor that. Whoever says God is here or there, do not believe him. The light that God is, shines in the darkness. God is the true light: to see it, one must be blind and must strip from God all that is 'something'. A master says: whoever speaks of God in any likeness, speaks impurely of Him. But to speak of God with nothing is to speak of Him correctly. When the soul is unified and there enters into total self?abnegation, then she finds God as in Nothing. It appeared to a man as in a dream - it was a waking dream - that he became pregnant with Nothing like a woman with child, and in that Nothing God was born, God was the fruit of Nothing. God was born in the Nothing."

This is the only passage in which Eckhart referred to his own enlightenment, or in fact to himself at all. It is startling language, but it is normal with the Christian mystics, as with mystics of every religion. The famous seven-times repeated "nada" of St John of the Cross is the best-known example, but there are countless others. Nothing. God has to fall away! God as object has to tumble down into the blue sky, as Sartre put it. Many people smile at the idea of the Old Man in the Sky with the White Beard. But any idea of God as object comes to the same thing. While we continue to imagine God as a kind of object - a super-object, of course! - the language of objects will do: we will discuss animals, vegetables and minerals and God, using the same deeply-embedded categories of thought. Millions of people have become so dissatisfied with 'God as object' that they almost know what an atheist feels, and they think that they are therefore atheists. God as an object: obiectum, 'something thrown against'. That kind of God would be a limited God, an idol. But when you deny God as object someone will say you are making God 'subjective'. It is not a case of denying one side of a distinction in favour of the other, but of denying the distinction itself. God leaps over that distinction.

So, to answer your question, do I suspect that there may be nothing up there? There are lots of objects up there, but I'm not tempted to think of God as one of them. Every day of my life I'm drawn to prayer and meditation: I go willingly; I get up very early in the morning to do it. Everything I do during the day seems shallow if I miss it. What do I do while I'm sitting there for a couple of hours? Nothing! And when I catch myself doing something I stop it! Something in me is trying to come awake. I intend to stay there every morning and evening for the rest of my life. That's my search for God…such as it is. It couldn't possibly be the only way, but it's mine, and it's the way of many people. I could pass the time looking at myself, the subject; or I could pass the time thinking about the Object. But I will try to stay in that clear 'space' where the ego has nothing to project and nothing to project onto. I believe that that space is the Christ-nature in us. He is still struggling to be born. I don't know if this throws some light for you, Aidan. Take a look at two other sections on this site, Wisdom Line and Between Ourselves.

Take care! - Donagh

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