Saturday, September 20, 2014

Excerpt from "A Diary of Readings" by John Baillie

Here is an excerpt from A Diary of Readings by John Baillie

Day 260: “The Security We Desire”

     “We want an assurance that the soul in reaching out to the unseen world is not following an illusion. We want security that faith and worship, and above all love, directed towards the environment of the spirit are not spent in vain. It is not sufficient to be told that it is good for us to believe this, that it will make better men and women of us. We do not want a religion that deceives us for our own good. There is a crucial question here; but before we can answer it, we must frame it.
      The heart of the question is commonly put in the form, ‘Does God really exist?’ It is difficult to set aside this question without being suspected of quibbling. But I venture to put it aside because it raises so many unprofitable side issues, and at the end it scarcely reaches deep enough into religious experience…Theological or anti-theological argument to prove or disprove the existence of a deity seems to me to occupy itself largely with skating among the difficulties caused by our making a fetish of this word. It is all so irrelevant to the assurance for which we hunger. In the case of our human friends we take their existence for granted, not caring whether it is proven or not. Our relationship is such that we could read philosophical arguments designed to prove the non-existence of each other, and perhaps even be convinced by them—and then laugh together over so odd a conclusion. I think that it is something of the same sort of security we should seek in our relationship with God. The most flawless proof of the existence of God is no substitute for it; and if we have that relationship, the most convincing disproof is turned harmlessly aside. If I may say it with reverence, the soul and God laugh together over so odd a conclusion."

 This is a quote from Sir Arthur Eddington’s book  Science and the Unseen World (1929) pp 42 f.

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