By Liam MacGregor-Hastie
They say that “all energy used for brain metabolism is finally transformed into heat”. If so, this cold November night was no match for the neural activity that took place at the Friend’s Meeting House.
Here, many budding philosophers gathered to carry on a discussion as old as time itself. One that has spanned over 3,000 years and which has gifted us many of our most cherished intellects. From Anselm to Avicenna, from Descartes to Leibniz, from Spinoza to Hume and onwards. Many great philosophers have found fame in their attempts to answer this question:
“Does God exist?”
We have long been familiar with the ideas that God could either exist or not exist at all. But life isn’t black or white, the Philosophy Forum attendees know this very well. We gathered to discuss the potential alternatives to this dichotomy.
The previous month’s debate, between Philip Goff and Jack Symes, set the tone for this discussion. At Bridge 5 Mill, Manchester, they unpicked different ways of making sense of God.
Finding a rational explanation for God’s existence is no walk in the park. In doing so, we follow in the footsteps of the Enlightenment thinkers.
Those revolutionary thinkers risked their lives in the name of reason itself. Because of them, many years later, we can enjoy such civil and open-minded discussions as we did at the Forum. Here people from all walks of life, atheist and religious, young and old, gladly had their beliefs challenged.
Between Theism and Atheism stands a chasm of possibility. Could a solution come from ‘depersonalising’ God? By not thinking about ‘it’ as having a human form, can we begin to make sense of God rationally? Can we think of it as a natural process or as a substance that pervades all things?
The aim is not to reach a conclusion but to question our beliefs. ‘Absolute knowledge’ is the antithesis of Philosophy. As one attendee put it:
…knowledge can only be relative, not absolute. Wisdom comes from accepting this.
All in attendance left the event in good spirits, a little wiser and a little more agnostic than they walked in.
For a more detailed understanding of what we discussed, click here to read the Focus Paper ‘Is belief beyond the natural beyond belief?’, written by Christopher Burke.
Our next Philosophy Forum meeting will take place on the 12th of December 2022. We will be discussing Utilitarianism, the belief that we should make decisions based on how much pleasure they will give us. Is ‘happiness’ a valid metric for decision making, especially on a large scale?