We can believe and be free
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The Christian faith assumes that God exists, was revealed in Jesus Christ, and there will be life after death. But can this hope still be defended rationally? Hasn't the natural sciences long ago shown that the belief in the Christian God who brings the dead back to life is an irrational and unreasonable belief? Theologian and philosopher Prof. Dr. Dr. Benedikt Gätze thought about it.
If you want to learn more about the topic and discuss it with Benedikt Gätze, you have the opportunity to do so on Monday, December 16, 2019. Then the Bochum scientist gives a lecture entitled “What can we hope for? Thoughts on the Existence of God ”in Blue Square, Kortumstraße 90, 44787 Bochum. It starts at 6 p.m., admission is free and registration is not required.
Mr. Göck, how has the Christian conception of God changed over the past 100 years?
In order to answer the question, it is helpful to distinguish between the believers' conceptions of God and the conceptions of God that are analyzed and defended in philosophy and theology. To what extent and whether believers' ideas of God have changed in the last 100 years would be an empirical question that I cannot answer.
From the point of view of philosophy and theology, there is consensus today, as it was 100 years ago, that God, if he exists, is a perfect and adorable being who created the world out of nothing.
If God exists, he is a perfect and adorable being who created the world out of nothing.
What has changed over time and will probably continue to change are the answers to the question of what a perfect and adorable being should actually be: Is a perfect being timeless or does it exist for an infinitely long time? Does a perfect being know or cannot know the future because the future does not yet exist? Can a perfect being break the laws of nature or is it bound by them? Can there be a being worthy of adoration when there is so much suffering in the world he has created? What speaks for the fact that a perfect being exists?
Depending on which answers are formulated here, our conception of God also changes. In the current philosophical-theological debate there is therefore a whole range of different theories about how we humans can adequately speak of God within our possibilities.
We have a much greater knowledge of the natural sciences today than we used to. We know that the earth was not created in seven days and that no one can walk on water. How can one still believe in God and the Bible with this knowledge?
Although the natural sciences have developed numerous theories about the universe in which we live in the past centuries and have thus enabled us to intervene in our living environment in a creative and targeted manner, it would be a naive distortion of scientific work if it were understood as if it were the natural sciences simply accumulated more and more knowledge about reality in a linear process.
Scientific theory and model formation also proceeds by leaps and bounds, sometimes there are even different approaches to explain the same phenomenon on an equal footing side by side.
Scientific theories are always embedded in larger philosophical and ideological contexts.
In addition, scientific theories are always embedded in larger philosophical and ideological contexts. Although a conflict between scientific and philosophical-theological statements is often constructed in the media, I would therefore be more cautious at this point: Although the scientific method is our best theoretical approach to the material world, the natural sciences say nothing about the value and meaning of the Life or what is morally right and wrong.
The Bible contains condensed and reflected experiences of people with a God who was of paramount importance to their lives.
These questions are dealt with in philosophy and theology, also with reference to the Bible, which is not a scientific treatise or a philosophical-theological treatise, but a condensed and reflected experience of people with a God who was of the highest importance for their lives.
Beyond that, however, there are arguments especially with regard to the question of the existence of God that are based on scientific knowledge and use them to show that it is reasonable to assume the existence of God.
The so-called Kalam cosmological argument, for example, is based on the cosmological insight that our universe began to exist 13.8 billion years ago, and argues that the cause of the existence of the universe itself cannot be a physical cause, since nothing physical exists the "Big Bang" existed. Hence, the argument goes, it is reasonable to assume that the cause is a person who wanted to create the universe.
Belief in the resurrection after death is a central thought in Christianity. Isn't that irrational in view of today's scientific knowledge?
Belief in the afterlife is indeed an essential element of the Christian faith. Of course, we cannot know for sure whether we will really be resurrected after death.
However, from a philosophical and theological perspective, we can ask ourselves, on the one hand, what exactly is meant by life after death: Will it be a life with a new body? Will it be life as an immaterial soul in the presence of God? Will we still have free will in heaven? Can we be sad in heaven
For philosophical reasons, life after death cannot be ruled out in principle.
On the other hand, we can ask ourselves which philosophical arguments speak for and against the possibility of life after death. So we can ask ourselves whether the hope of eternal life, if we hope for it, is a well-founded hope from a philosophical-theological point of view.
And here the arguments seem to me to speak in favor of the fact that life after death cannot in principle be ruled out for philosophical reasons. The belief in a life after death is therefore not an irrational belief, but an expression of a well-founded hope, which in principle cannot be refuted by the knowledge of the natural sciences, since the scope of the natural sciences, i.e. the area about which they can reasonably speak, to a certain extent stops on this side of paradise: even if materialism should be right and every person is completely identical with his body, it can be argued that God has the possibility of bringing this body back to life.
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