Gene Callahan linked to a very interesting review of David Bentley Hart’s The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss. (The review itself is written by Mark Anthony Signorelli.) Yet in seeing Gene argue in the comments, I understand why Gene’s critic(s) think he is “redefining” terms when arguing that God must exist, even though Gene claims he is just using the original definition of “God.” (Note that Gene is here using the same stance I took with the term “inflation,” so I’m not quibbling with such a stance in general.)
The pithy statement from the review is, “An atheist is just someone who has failed to notice the perfectly evident necessity of God’s existence.” But let’s quote further to make we know what this means:
In contrast, all of the religious traditions Hart refers to define God as Being itself, “the one infinite source of all that is: eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, uncreated, uncaused, perfectly transcendent of all things and for that very reason absolutely immanent to all things.” This is why a recognition of God’s reality is, as stated, an acknowledgment of something obvious, because none of us can keep from experiencing being, thinking about being, coming to know being in some way. As Hart puts it, “Evidence for or against the reality of God, if it is there, saturates every moment of the experience of existence, every employment of reason, every act of consciousness, every encounter with the world around us.” Yet precisely because God’s presence is implicit in the totality of our encounter with the world, it is liable to our neglect.
I think there is a danger in such a presentation. On the one hand, yes, one can easily win in an argument with an atheist, if we take “God” in this fashion.
Yet when I say, “I know there is a God,” it’s because I truly think He is a living Being who communicates with us, including with me personally on a few occasions in my life. I don’t expect individual anecdotes to persuade a rationalist skeptic. But, at the same time, to give a proof that God must exist through introspection, doesn’t seem to do justice to what I mean when I say, “I know there is a God.”