When one endeavors on the journey toward understanding the essence of God one of the first questions that rises to the surface, once the constraints of religious tradition are loosed, is the question of necessity. Must God exist? This is the question that one grapples with when confronted apologetically by purveyors of any faith. Presuppositions that were once so easily upheld hang ever so teeteringly on the precipice of this question. Before one can answer if God exists, much less what God is, the question of necessity must be grappled with. The first man to really step to the plate and question the necessity of meta-physicality was Ludwig Feuerbach.As Feuerbach put it
“My first thought was God, reason my second, man my third and last.”
What Feuerbach wrestled with, and ultimately concluded was false, was the argument that the universe is dependant on God. Holistically speaking Feuerbach refuted the aplogetic claim that somehow history was wrapped in God. Why must God be sequestered off to the side slowly to lose ground to the ever growing possession of mans intellectual reason? Would it not be better to accept that God was simply unnecessary, rather than to slowly mitigate his role into irrelevance? The dawn of Darwinism had removed the argument of necessity from the perspective of natural order. It only seemed inevitable that human history would surrender its claims of divine necessity. Feuerbach, free from the burden of reserving ground for God, was able to articulate a truly atheistic worldview in light of human history. God became archaically unnecessary for the continued progression of humanity.
While Feuerbach refuted the apologetic claims of necessity in terms of human history, he did not see the annihilation of religious apologetics that he had predicted. While Feuerbach may have gained ground in the field human history, apologists continued dispersing their energy behind the field of human interaction. If God was not necessary for natural human history, he was most definitely necessary for human social history. How could man hope to be ethical, broadly understood to mean acting socially correct, if God is not the informer and sustainer of mans social interaction? Was not our need for ethical social interaction enough proof for the necessity of God’s existence? To this question Sigmund Freud answered equivocally, no. By pushing the boundaries of nuero psychology, Freud argued that honest psychoanalytic investigation revealed neurosis, not God, as the informer of human social interaction. Indeed, Freud would argue that the neurotic projection of human perfection in the form of God, though not dangerous of necessity, was able to be overcome. More importantly he argued that productive, rather than ethical, social behavior was possible without yielding to neurotic illusory projections.
What does this mean for ones pursuit of God?
I think it must be understood that neither Feuerbach’s nor Freud’s hypothesis disprove the existence of God. Rather they simply removed his necessity from the current equation. If one wants to honestly seek out God’s essence, by first understanding his existence, he is going to have to remove from the equation the presupposition of God’s necessity. Thus the question, must God exist, can only be answered “no” within the confines of our current understanding.
As I continue on my journey toward understanding God, I must always remember that my presuppositions of necessity only serve as hindrances to honest evaluation of the evidence. The question of God’s existence must remain unanswered for me, at this point. Feuerbach and Freud have done nothing to bring me closer to the answers I seek. They have, however, served as warnings of my own inclinations to give into the presuppositions of the necessity of God.