The New Concept of God in "Some Answered Questions"

By Ramin Vasli

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #89
Center for Bahá'í Studies: Acuto, Italy
June 28 – July 1, 2009
(see list of papers from #89)

    Undoubtedly, God is a fundamental conception for religions in general and Abrahamic religions in particular. Prior to Renaissance, this conception was clear and acceptable for religious people, but after Renaissance God of Abrahamic religions was no longer a plausible and viable notion for Modern philosophy the main purpose of which was to establish a philosophy which can be compatible with new science.

    Descartes, as the "Founder of modern philosophy" has a significant and prominent role in modern philosophy. He was interested in science, which can be useful for this world and for this reason he shifted his perspective to the nature. In this new paradigm, that is, modern philosophy, Man is posited to be the centre of the world, as in classical philosophy, Logos was, and in the Middle age, God was. In other words, "Cosmo centric", "God centric" and "Man centric" respectively, are specification of Classical philosophy, Middle age and modern philosophy. Descartes is viewed as boundary between past and new age. Consequently, humanistic approach constructed a new paradigm, making a break between itself and religious thought. Accordingly, the source of knowledge is no longer Divine wisdom, revealed theology or Logos, but human reason. For, Descartes believes in the light of "the natural light of reason" everything can be attained; his famous statement is plainly clear in this case, "I think therefore I am" or "cogito ergo sum".

    Regarding such critics and attitudes, natural theology was replaced to be based on reason; as a result this theology regards no longer Holy Scripture and revealed theology. Deism presented a dissimilar conception of God compared to conception of God of Abrahamic religions. Cartesian philosophy had suggested God as "watch maker".

    Accordingly, with emergence of the Enlightenment, particularly the French Enlightenment seriously attacked to religion to be identified as major obstacle for progress of humanity; however some believe that the main aim was, to struggle with superstition. For instance, Voltaire as a well—known figure in this Battle, in his writing and letter, frequently declares that his great struggle is not with Faith but with superstition, not with religion but with church and clerics; yet next generation, which saw in him its spiritual leader did not distinguish. Consequently Extreme thought of next generation created pessimistic effects on religion. For instance, Hume, gravely attacked to revealed religion and suggested Atheism, and even regarded polytheism superior than monotheism, accordingly he was charged with heresy.

    Indeed, the spirit of our time is seemingly incompatible with religion in general and God of Abrahamic religion in particular, so that they are not able to present a satisfactory theology for God which can be compatible with modern thought.

    This article is divided into three sections. First, it deals with the conception of God for Greek philosophy and Abrahamic religions, by focusing on Theism. After that, it will be presented a general picture of modern philosophy in relation to the conception of God and Deism, in order to explore why the God of Abrahamic religions is incompatible with the God of modern philosophers, namely, Theism and Deism. Finally, I will try to argue, according to Bahá'í Theology, the conception of God is a new and creative notion which can reconcile Theism, Deism and Atheism.

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