Eyes cannot reach Him but He reaches the eyes. And He is the Incomprehensible, the All-Aware. (Al Quran 6:103/104)
Philosophers refurbish the tools of reason to sharpen arguments for theism
God? Wasn’t he chased out of heaven by Marx, banished to the unconscious by Freud and announced by Nietzsche to be deceased? Did not Darwin drive him out of the empirical world? Well, not entirely. In a quiet revolution in thought and argument that hardly anyone could have foreseen only two decades ago, God is making a comeback. Most intriguingly, this is happening not among theologians or ordinary believers—most of whom never accepted for a moment that he was in any serious trouble—but in the crisp, intellectual circles of academic philosophers, where the consensus had long banished the Almighty from fruitful discourse.
Now it is more respectable among philosophers than it has been for a generation to talk about the possibility of God’s existence. The shift is most striking in the Anglo-American academies of thought, where strict forms of empiricism have reigned. “What science cannot tell us, mankind cannot know,” declared Bertrand Russell. And A.J. Ayer, on behalf of logical positivism, decreed that “all utterances about the nature of God are nonsensical.” The accepted wisdom was that the only, valid statements were those verifiable through the senses.
Today even atheistic philosophers agree that Ayer’s rigid rule is inadequate to deal with human experience. Meanwhile, science, his model for learning, has become less presumptuous and ambitious, its theorizing about cosmic astronomy closer to theology, its promise as savior and absolute explainer of the world somewhat tarnished. In the era of quarks, black holes, physics can seem as baffling as foreign policy in the age of the Ayatullah. Philosophers of science, such as Thomas Kuhn of Princeton, have applied relativism, formerly employed against religion, to scientific knowledge. Cornell President Frank Rhodes, a geologist, once observed that “the qualities that [scientists] measure may have as little relation to the world itself as a telephone number has to its subscriber.”
Broad cultural forces are also at work.
Says Douglas Hall, a theologian at Montreal’s McGill University: “The experiment with secularism finally proved to be too much for the human psyche to cope with, both in the Marxist world and our world. If you begin to doubt that there is some meaning in the process of history, then you get frightened of your own secularity, and you return to religion.”
Though still a distinct minority in secular universities, some philosophers are not only willing to talk about God but to believe in him. In the U.S., 300 of them belong to the Society for Christian Philosophy. Some scholars are attacking atheism and reviving and refining arguments for theism that have been largely unfashionable since the Enlightenment, using modern techniques of analytic philosophy and symbolic logic that were once used to discredit belief.
A generation ago, atheistic empiricists like Harvard’s Willard V. Quine were influential simply because “they were the brightest people,” says Philosophy Professor Roderick Chisholm of Brown University, adding that now the “brightest people include theists, using a kind of tough-minded intellectualism” that was often lacking on their side of the debate.
— The Muslim Times (@The_MuslimTimes) August 17, 2016