Is There a God?

Is There a God?

E-mail debates of newsworthy topics.
Oct. 12 1996 3:30 AM

Is There a God?

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Andrew:

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       I think we've found some common ground. You assure me that atheists can be just as happy and well adjusted as anyone and that faith, far from being the incomparable support and solace I have always been told it is, can actually be a heavy burden. I don't know that these revelations will cheer up the people on your side, but I'm sure nonbelievers everywhere are pleasantly surprised.
Unfortunately, I think you are still evading the main issue: whether any objective reason can be found to think that God exists. You tell me I am wrong (and worse, "callow") in my analysis of why people believe, but you haven't provided an understandable alternative explanation. You say you "believe in him because he exists." Fine. I don't believe in him because he doesn't. This type of argument doesn't get us very far. You say that the "very fact that such an imagining exists at all suggests to me that there is something to imagine." Really? Lots of people believe their personalities and destinies are tied to the alignment of the stars. Does that suggest to you that astrology is valid? Rational people ask for evidence and arguments before they begin planning their lives around their horoscopes. If you intend to persuade me or anyone else that God exists, I think you have to offer something more than your own subjective experience.

Regards,
Steve

Steve Chapman is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, and Andrew Sullivan is former editor of the New Republic.