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Geoffrey Berg

News........Cardinal Evades Problem Of Mortal Humans Identifying Any Immortal God

PDF Document Read the response letter from Archbishop Keith O'Brien

The letter has received acknowledgement from the offices of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop of Brisbane, Australia and Cardinal Ouellet of Quebec.

I have now received an acknowledgement of my letter of 10 August 2009 to church prelates in the English speaking world from The Office Of The Archbishop of York and a reply from Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien, Roman Catholic Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh.

I acknowledge the courtesy of Cardinal O’Brien in replying briefly to my letter but his reply shows that he in particular and churches in general are ignoring rather than dealing with the identification problems now engulfing the concept of God. He asserts God exists but how is he to know that God exists or for that matter identify which presumptive God, if any, is the genuine version of God? He talks of a God ‘who communicates with his creatures so very regularly’ but how can any mortal know that any entity at the other end of the supposed ‘communication’ is even immortal, let alone God? Indeed in my recent book, The Six Ways Of Atheism, I have innovatively developed the point that even a potentially immortal entity or a potential God could not be certain that it is genuinely immortal for all the future. People, especially religious people, just don’t seem to understand that there may well be many entities in the Universe that are more intelligent, more long lived and more powerful than people are but that still fall far short of being God.

All this is exacerbated because there are so many sectarian and geographical violent conflicts in the world between different versions of theism and theistic communication, be it Christian and Moslem in Sudan (and to an extent in Nigeria) and quite recently between Christian denominations as well in Bosnia and in Northern Ireland.

In these circumstances it is absurd to want, as Cardinal O’Brien does, people to pray without knowing whether the entity they are asked to pray to exists, indeed even can logically exist, let alone whether the predominant version of deity in their part of the world is the correct version.
Cardinal O’Brien has not dealed with these points but sooner or later they will have to be examined by philosophers, theologians and the general public. It now behoves the serious media to take a part in questioning the leading churchmen in the country over that and in exploring this issue. Serious media should take up serious matters.

Geoffrey H L Berg MA (Cantab)
Author, ‘The Six Ways of Atheism’ (published 29 May 2009)

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