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The problem of God in the history of Philosophy

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Some philosophers, like Kierkegaard, find it reasonable to believe in God in their philosophical enterprise while others do not. And each group makes a compelling argument to back the stance taken. For some God is just a an abstract idea that helps them to make their point while for others, God is being who is involved in the lives of human beings in little as in great details. In the first group one can think of Aristotle, Spinoza, Kant, etc. In the second group one can think of Socrates, Plato, Augustine, Leibniz, Kierkegaard, etc.

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This post discusses the problem of God in the history of philosophy. How was the notion of God developed? Does God exist? Can God's existence be proved? Does believing in God belittle the human being? Is belief in God necessary in philosophy? These are some of the questions addressed in this post.

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The problem of God in Philosophy dates as far back as the philosophical enterprise itself. In ancient Greece, there were a number of gods, or oracles, who were believed to have extraordinary powers. The ancient Greeks deferred to these gods in their daily activities and decisions. The question of God arose because our forebears became aware of their limitations. For instance, is it possible to know more than we know or to know everything? If we cannot do that, is there a being or beings who can? Questions like where we come from and where we are going (which arose principally from the consciousness of death); what is the most important entity in the universe, eventually led to the concept of an omnipotent and omniscient being that is attributed with creating and knowing everything.

The human being looks at herself and knows that there are things she does not know and cannot do. Yet she knows that she cannot know nor do those things. In this way she, in a way, transcends herself. As Socrates quipped, the Apollonian oracle at Delphi declared him the wisest man, not because he possessed a special knowledge unavailable to others, but rather because he knows that he does not know, where others claim to know. So, aware that there are things that are beyond her knowing power and her other abilities, the human being comes to believe that there could be a being infinitely more powerful and knowing than herself. This is because she already has that consciousness in her. As François-Marie Arouet popularly known by his nom de plume as Voltaire, (1694-1778), famously said, "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him".

The reason for this is that the human mind is so dynamic that it transcends everything finite. Because of this, it was necessary for some philosophers, like Plato, to ...

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