Thursday, April 12, 2007

Problems and Mysteries

The debate about whether God is real misses the true nature of the question. Here’s why.

By Marc Gellman

The French existentialist Gabriel Marcel in his book "The Mystery of Being" helpfully distinguished between two types of questions: problems and mysteries. Problems are questions about things outside of us that we lay siege to. When we answer them correctly they go away forever.
Mysteries are not questions we constitute (those are problems). Mysteries are, according to Marcel, questions within which we ourselves are constituted. Mysteries are not problems that have not yet been answered.

I think this is just word play. Historically we have often thought we were constituted of different "mysteries" that turned out to be "problems" after all. Belief in a god or the supernatural is the same sort of thing. The question isn't "Is there a God?" the proper question is "Why do we think gods (or ghosts, or ESP) are real?"

Time to start reading Dan Dennett's:
Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon