Transcendental ontology contains the most fundamental philosophical questions. Arguments for the existence of God are in transcendent ontology. I hope that my way of approaching the main question of transcendent ontology is not so idiosyncratic that no one else understands what I am asking.
In this post I intend to offer a proof for the existence of God!
Let us say that the world, reality or what is accepted in immanent ontology is that which can be represented by human intelligence. This conforms to the Parmenidean principle that what can be is what can be thought. An implication of the previous post’s recognition of the inconsistencies and incoherence of human representations is that our representations are not the reality we represent.
Here is the most fundamental philosophical question?
Must there be something unrepresentable upon which what can be represented depends for its existence and features, but which depends upon nothing else ?
The answer cannot be “no.” To say “no” implies that there could be nothing to represent. But we cannot think of there being nothing to represent. For our effort to think of there being nothing to represent provides us with something to represent. The previous post warns us against confusing representations with realities represented. But that is not a warning that representations themselves are not realities to be represented.
From the perspective of negative theology whose basic principle tells us that we can only say what God is not, the above could be called a proof of the existence of God.
I submit that this proof of the existence of God totally beyond representation is valid.
It provides a very “thin” abstract philosophical notion of God . Far more is needed to draw significant implications for morality and religion.
Some opponents of the so-called “New Atheists”, such as Bishop Barron to whose “Word on Fire Institute” I belong, accuse the new atheists of assuming that believers represent God as an existing entity of immense powers and virtues. Believers reply that we believe God is transcendent beyond any representable entity , viz.beyond , what is in the immanent ontology of human intelligence. We believers have a point. But the point is only that serious discussion about theistic belief should not be about the existence of some unrepresentable foundation for all reality.
Serious discussion about the rationality, clarity, morality and religious adequacy of religious belief begins with what people believe. What people actually believe is expressed as if what is believed is in the immanent ontology of human intelligence.
Consider the first sentence of the Nicene Creed which I profess every Sunday: “I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.” Unity is attributed to God. But unity and plurality are features of that which is representable. Agency is attributed to God but, again, agency is a feature of what is in immanent ontology.
In my next few posts, I plan to explore how philosophy is relevant to including theistic religious belief in belief about the representable even if “pure” philosophy tells us that nothing can be said or thought of God.
Some philosophical asides:
A quick way to dismiss the suggestion that there might be an infinite regress of such unrepresentable beings is to reply that infinite regresses are representable and representability has been ruled out for the transcendent.
Also note that this is not a proof of the existence of a necessary being. A being whose existence is necessary is too much like a being with some special feature, Beings with features are in immanent ontology. This argument establishes a de dicto necessity – necessity is the modality of what is proved. There is no proof of what is called de re necessity – necessity as a feature of some thing or entity.