A riled-up theologian, whom I shall neither name or link to, has written a diatribe about my remarks on David Bentley Hart’s book: The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss. This theologian says that I’ve completely misunderstood the book, which was, as Hart claimed, to distill the essence of God from all faiths, and not to give evidence for that God. The captious theologian says that Hart spends only a very small portion of his book giving evidence for God.
That’s bogus. Most of the book is in fact devoted to adducing such evidence, which resides in the existence of consciousness, rationality, mathematics, our search for truth, our love of beauty, and the Fact that There is Something Instead of Nothing. And when he’s not adducing this “proof”, Hart’s making fun of those who claim that these phenomena can be based on naturalism. But none of them, argue Hart, can be explained by science, ergo God. (We never learn how Hart concludes “Ergo Jesus and my own Eastern Orthodox Faith.”)
Part of Hart’s tactic is to assert not only that consciousness, rationality, bliss, and so on are evidence for God, but are in fact God, a grifter’s trick if ever there was one. It’s a form of pantheism, something that almost no believers accept.
Now bear with me while I quote a page from the book that shows not only Hart’s sophistry, but the relentlessly annoying and pompous style of his prose. This, my friends, is what you must deal with to get your Official Credible Atheist Card. Do note how Hart shows off as often as he can, liberally sprinkling this paragraph with signs of his erudition. And please read it, because, after all, I had to copy it out from pages 248 and 249.
Seen from the perspective of a variety of theistic traditions, this [“the indissoluble bond between the intellect and objective reality” that is a “kind of love” and “a kind of adherence of the will and mind to something inexhaustibly desirable] is nothing less than the reflection of absolutely reality within the realm of the contingent. It is bliss that draws us toward and joins us to the being of all things because that bliss is already one with being and consciousness, in the infinite simplicity of God. As the Chandogya Upanishad says, Brahman is at once both the joy residing in the depths of the heart and also the pervasive reality in which all things subsist. The restless heart that seeks its repose in God (to use the language of Augustine) expresses itself not only in the exultations and raptures of spiritual experience but also in the plain persistence of awareness. The soul’s unquenchable eros for the divine, of which Plotinus and Gregory of Nyssa and countless Christian contemplatives speak. Sufism’s ishq or passionately ardent love for God, Jewish mysticism’s devekut, Hinduism’s bhakti, Sikhism’spyaar—these are all names for the acute manifestation of a love that, in a more chronic and subtle form, underlies all knowledge, all openness of the mind to the truth of things. This is because, in God, the fulness of being is also a perfect act of infinite consciousness that, wholly possessing the truth of being in itself, forever finds its consummation in boundless delight. The Father knows his own essence perfectly in the Mirror of Logos and rejoices in the Spirit who is the “bond of love” or “bond of glory” in which divine being and divine consciousness are perfectly joined. God’s wujud is also his wijdan—his infinite being is infinite consciousness—in the unity of the wajd, the bliss of perfect enjoyment. The divine sat is always also the divine chit, and their perfect coincidence is the divine ananda. It only makes sense, then—though of course it is quite wonderful as well—that consciousness should be made open to being by an implausible desire for the absolute, and that being should disclose itself to consciousness through the power of the absolute to inspire and (ideally) satiate that desire. The ecstatic structure of finite consciousness—this inextinguishable yearning for truth that weds the mind to the being of all things—is simply a manifestation of the metaphysical structure of all reality. God is the one act of being, consciousness, and bliss in whom everything lives and moves and has its being; and so the only way to know the truth of things is, necessarily, the way of bliss.
I’ll add a bit more for you budding scientists:
In any event, I do not believe the physicalist narrative of reality can ever really account for consciousness and its intentionality (or, alternatively, eliminate the concepts of consciousness and intentionality from our thinking); still less do I believe that it can account for the conscious mind’s aptitude for grasping reality by way of abstract concepts; and I am quite certain it can have nothing solvent to say about the mind’s capacity for absolute values or transcendental aims. All of these things lie outside the circle of what contemporary physicalism, with its reflexively mechanistic metaphysics, can acknowledge as real. In one’s every encounter with the world, one is immersed in the twin mysteries of being and consciousness; and, in the very structure of that encounter, a third mystery appears: that of the absolute. . . In the very midst of our quotidian acts of awareness we are already placed before the transcendent, the infinite horizon of meaning that makes rational knowledge possible, and thereby presented with the question of God.
See what you’re missing? If you can’t give a naturalistic account of consciousness (indeed, just by thinking about that problem), you’re giving evidence of God.
If this sort of bullpucky is not not God-of-the-Gappism, I’ll eat my hat. And speaking of eating, I’m contemplating a fine dinner tonight, which, I suppose, is also evidence for Hart that there is a God. Indeed, my enjoyment of that meal will be God himself!
There will be one more quote tomorrow and then I’ll leave you in peace.