The view that the existence of God cannot be proved ordisproved by philosophy has not stopped developments in moderntheology. Theologians are attempting to balance theanthropocentric view of God presented by philosophers since theEnlightenment with the need to provide a spiritual path and aguide to an ethical and meaningful way of life.
Many people claim to have had a religious experience, to haveexperienced the divine directly. This experience is direct and isof a different quality to sensory experience or intellectualdiscovery, and therefore outside of the scope of philosophy.
Anglo American analytic philosophers of the twentieth centuryhave tended to agree that philosophy may help us clarifyreligious concepts, without giving us a secure foundation forreligious belief.
Nietzsche is not simply asserting his atheism; he issuggesting that once we are aware that the concept of God is ourown creation we can no longer base our religious and moralbeliefs on any notion of a divine external reality.
In these passages Nietzsche is showing the inevitableunfolding anthropocentrism (lit. putting man at the centre of theworld) implicit in philosophy since Kant. If we view ourexistence through human categories, then our concept of God isitself a human creation.
There are many traditional "proofs" for theexistence of God, and we will look at three of them: The argumentfrom design, the ontological argument and the cosmologicalargument.
One of the most far-reaching consequences of the rationalismof the Enlightenment was the undermining of basic Christian faithamong the educated classes. The effect was unintended because theproject of many Enlightenment philosophers was to prove theexistence of God using reason: Descartes and Leibniz assumed thatGod's existence could be rationally proved, indeed God was anecessary part of their philosophy.
His argument goes something like this: God either exists or hedoes not. If we believe in God and he exists, we will be rewardedwith eternal bliss in heaven. If we believe in God and he doesnot exist then at worst all we have forgone is a few sinfulpleasures.
If we do not believe in God and he does exist we may enjoy afew sinful pleasures, but we may face eternal damnation. If we donot believe in God and he does not exist then our sins will notbe punished.
Kant attempted to show how philosophy could prove theexistence of God. Unfortunately, for him his previous work showedthat we could not know reality directly as thing-in-itself. Whatis real in itself is beyond our experience. Even if God exists,we can not know God as he really is.