DOES GOD EXIST? An Answer for Today by Hans KÃœng

DOES GOD EXIST? An Answer for Today

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Existiert Gott? Jawohl! This is a sort of monster religious inquest, to which KÃœng subpoenas practically every major Continental philosopher from Descartes to Heidegger, then weighs all the evidence, and concludes that critically reflective theism is still a viable option in today's world. In archetypal earnest-liberal fashion, KÃœng gives a sympathetic hearing to all his witnesses, especially the atheists (Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, etc.), even though he decides against them. The honest believer must, he thinks, admit that Christianity has been an opiate for the masses, has fostered a sniveling ethic of ressentiment, has kept people in a state of perpetual childhood. But, of course, it doesn't have to do this. And in any case most modern arguments for atheism (and its correlative, nihilism) derive from Feuerbach's notion that all theology is really anthropology, a projection of human hopes and needs into a fabricated infinity--which is a compelling insight but has no probative force. Many atheists (e.g., Freud) seem to think God can't exist because it would be just too good to be true. And the most thoroughgoing and terrifying of atheists, Nietzsche, simply assumes that God is dead without bothering to discuss the matter. But while God's existence cannot be ascertained the way empirical objects can (""a God who is there, is not God,"" as Bonhoeffer said), any rational person with a fundamental sense of trust in reality can find God in a free and meaningful act of commitment. KÃœng's tome has an encyclopedic sweep to it, which is both its greatest attraction and one of its weaknesses. For the educated layman with no technical training in philosophy it offers a generally sound introduction to dozens of important thinkers, but it goes so far afield that the treatment of some issues (e.g., evolution and set theory) is inevitably amateurish. And, given its essentially secular framework, its final section (""Yes to the Christian God"") leaps rather abruptly into biblical dogma. KÃœng's prose, as usual, is Germanically stiff, but clear and functional. What the book amounts to is an exhaustive, broadminded, intellectually solid course in apologetics for the serious student, a strenuous but on the whole rewarding experience.

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 1980
ISBN: 1597528013
Publisher: Doubleday