The problem of the “non-existence” of God: difficult atheism

Philosophy is, in its essence, a search for the ultimate cause of reality. Man, observing the world, senses the need for a “Foundation”; he senses that reality, in constant evolution, needs an explanation. From this simple intuition all the great “systems of thought” are born.

This brief introduction allows us to get to the heart of this article: the problem of the “non-existence” of God.

When we talk about the problem of the foundation, we must understand that philosophy comes to God not knowing God in himself, as if the Principle was the subject of the speech, but reaches God by ending the speech. The world in its becoming is the object of investigation. Looking at it from this perspective helps for two reasons:

  • the first. It allows you to respond to the objection of those who, by rightly affirming the transcendence of God, erroneously deduce his unknowability. If God is the end of the speech, the objection falls: the Foundation is not known in its essence. In other words, I know for sure that this Foundation exists and that this Foundation has certain attributes, although it does not have direct experience. To make a simpler example: I know the functionality of an engine, even if I don’t know perfectly the mechanisms. The discourse on the essence of God could be made, albeit in a limited way, in the context of the so-called “Revealed theology” or “sacred theology”, science that starts from what God said about himself.
  • the second. It allows us to understand that the existence, but the “non-existence” of God, must not be placed in question. The necessity of the Foundation is a metaphysical necessity and the problematic nature of “becoming” withouth the Foundation.

On this matter, the French philosopher Étienne Gilson, in a small but dense study, was much more intrigued by philosophical atheism that from the proofs of the existence of God.

The spontaneity of which Gilson speaks should not be interpreted as a sign of naivety. The philosopher expresses in the passage simply what was said at the beginning: each “system of thought” has, at its basis, the intuition of the necessity of the Foundation (see L’athéisme difficile)

The real problem is, therefore, “non-existence” rather than the existence of God.

Giovanni Covino


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