When discussing theism and things such as this with others, I sometimes hear the phrase “X needs a dose of reality.” This can come from either the theist or the atheist. I am troubled by the notion that theism is supposed to represent reality when in fact we have such a difficult time “proving” it. So, the thought occurred to me that what we may need is a dose of possibility. In summarizing Farrer’s Saving Belief, the authors write,
…Farrer already is in the process of transition to making this view explicit in a brilliant opening chapter on the relation of faith and reason. There he introduces his concept of “initial faith.” The notion of God is not a neutral but a loaded term, to which we react positively or negatively. Farrer compares it to the concept of a mother. Even an orphan feels moved by simply entertaining the notion of a possible mother, whom he imagines he might still have but whose whereabouts is unknown to him. So too with God. If we do not find ourselves at all moved by the notion of the possibility of God, we will not be able properly to recognize the data that relate to the existence and reality of God. God will remain an abstraction, unable to move us toward a full faith. But if we are at all inclined to the possible reality of God, then this “initial faith” can turn into an explicit commitment as we carefully consider the testimony of nature, the gospel stories, the life of the Church, and the lives of saintly people. To pursue such intellectual work properly requires some positive engagement, some spiritual development in order to overcome the blindness of those who stop with limited questions and do not allow admittance to what has the power to wholly convince the mind and heart.
Does the possibility of a God, rather than the probability, offer a better heuristic analysis?
I am not a theist in the traditional terms, nor am I an atheist. Not because I believe or disbelieve in a higher power. Rather, I do believe there is the possibility of a higher power, of a deity… of the God. This is not a presupposition, but it is a subjective starting point to remind me always to question and in questioning, I have a better reason to believe.
I also have a tough time with people trying to prove God, more so than I have with people trying to disprove God.