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“Feuerbach and the Existence of God” by Daud Seleman

“All opinions are that of the author and not necessarily those of the website that it is published under.”

Many atheists mention the statement of Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach, a German philosopher, when the famous biblical verse about God creating man in his own image is cited: ”It is not as in the Bible, that God created man in his own image. But on the contrary, man created God in in his own image.” This statement not only reflects essentially the anthropomorphic perception of religion, which Feuerbach elaborated, but also his atheistic interpretation of the origin of the universe. In the course of history we have had two main opinions about the origin of the universe: One which considers God, a metaphysical superior being, as the creator of the universe and another, which believes that the universe came into existence by itself, without any interference of a superior being such as God. Here I want to discuss this essential aspect of the statement mentioned above, which deals with the question of the existence of God, rather than discussing the anthropomorphic perception of religion of Feuerbach which he based on the premise that a being such as God does not really exist (i.e. atheism), but rather human beings have through their imagination psychologically projected their fundamental core characteristics and unaccomplished wants onto a being, which they called ”God” and as such they (human beings) have created Him (God) and not vice versa.

Firstly we must state, that there is no clear argument noticeable in the statement of Ludwig Feuerbach for the non-existence of a creator. What this reveals, however, is that he looks at religion as a false matter from the very beginning. That is the reason why he questions the cause of the existence of religion, whereon he has elaborated a psychological answer (see above), rather than questioning the argumentation of religion. If you look at a matter as falsely from the very beginning you will always ask: how did this false matter, which has no valid argumentation at all, come into existence or what is the cause of that matter being prevalent, whereas if you look at a matter or a theory as being valid you will always question the argumentation of that matter. This has to be mentioned so that we know from which angle Feuerbach looks at religion and God, since through this we come to know why he does not argue against religion but questions the cause of religion, for he thinks religion has no valid argumentation that has to be answered. So here I can’t react to any existing argumentation on the side of Feuerbach. Moreover, this means for our discussion that I have to refer to the leading argumentation of atheism which is, in fact, beyond the statement of Feuerbach.

Secondly, in light of our contemporary world, I want to tackle the question of whether there exists a God or not from a scientific perspective, because many atheists today are of the opinion that there is no God, since they have no scientific proof for a superior being called ”God”. When we approach this issue from a scientific perspective the essential question is as follows: is it possible to prove scientifically in an experimental way the existence of God ? Can we base our belief in this issue on the mere scientific perspective ? The main assertion of today’s leading atheists, like for example Richard Dawkins, is that God is a scientific hypothesis and that we have to examine God in the same way as we have to examine other scientific hypotheses, trying to provide evidence for it and after all examining its probability, whereupon one will come to the conclusion, according to them, that the probability of the non-existence of a God is higher than the opposite conclusion. Here lies the crucial point when discussing the scientific perspective of a God and here is where we have to draw our attention to. If we want to find scientific evidence for the existence of a superior being, such as God, we are obliged to consider the nature of such a being. Let us assume there exists a being like God that is, in fact, not physical. We have to accept the fact that if this being tries to reveal himself to us he is confronted with the narrowings and isthmuses of the physical world. If we consider this nature of the being, we cannot simply expect this being to emerge in our midst and say, ‘’This is Me !”, because this being is not physical and does not pertain to the physical world. Consequently, nothing of this being is like us, or to put it in the terms of the Qur’an: There is no other like Him. As a result of this observation we can adopt two postures: we can either say the existence of such a being is impossible, because we think everything in the world of existence has to be like us or we go beyond this position and claim that the existence of a being that does not pertain to the physical world is possible. As for me, I believe that the former posture is a very egoistic and narrow understanding of reality, to claim that the existence of anything, which we have not seen yet or which does not pertain to the physical world is impossible. Now what can this being do to reveal himself to us or what can we try to know him. We could say he can send someone to tell us about him or he can perform some kind of miracles. The problem here is that some people accept it and say that God has done such a thing, whereas on the other hand, other people do not accept it. The point is as follows: what are the ways God can reveal himself to us ? After all if we look at the issue in this way, we have to ask ourselves what do we expect from such a being to reveal himself to us ? If we say, for instance, he should send us some voices from the sky or something, then other people can say this was your mind hallucinating or something else. All in all we have to consider these narrowings and isthmuses as mentioned above. Following this analysis I think we can easily come to the conclusion that scientific and experimental explanations do not give an appropriate answer to this question. Examining the question of the existence of God does not pertain to the realm of science. We cannot experiment with God and we cannot observe God scientifically, since he is outside of this physical world: God is a metaphysical being.

To sum up we can say that the existence of God is not a question to be asked to science. This analysis is of course insufficient to answer the question whether God exists or not, but at least I hope, that I could demonstrate that the ‘’truth’’ of the existence, as well as, the non-existence of God cannot be demonstrated by science. It is simply not the field of science. Ludwig Feuerbach’s statement is based on atheism and I tried to tackle one major aspect of the argumentation of atheism. I want to end this essay by citing the Professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford University, Tariq Ramadan:

‘’Atheist rationalism cannot claim for itself a monopoly of scientific validity for the simple reason that its view of God is not “scientific,” is not proof-based and is in fact an assemblage of hypotheses and probabilities. However, most dismaying is the attitude and the quasi-religious intellectual posturing of those who seek the demise of religion. If religious people deny paradise to their opponents or to “non-believers,” atheists would likewise seek to eliminate “dangerous” believers with their “childish” ways and their heads in the clouds.’’

 

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