The God Delusion: Towards a Materialist Atheist Synthesis

The God Delusion?

YouTube video here: The God Delusion: Towards a Materialist Atheist Synthesis

I this [article] I want to both introduce you to an interesting tension in modern philosophical theory and also introduce you to a potentially interesting new way to approach this tension. The tension I am speaking about is the tension of the existence or non-existence of God. In order to explore this tension I want to juxtapose two texts and two figures who approached God from the perspective of materialist atheism, but approached from radically different perspectives: one from the perspective of evolutionary biology and scientific naturalism (Richard Dawkins), and one from the perspective of psychoanalysis and historical phenomenology (Jacques Lacan). In this exploration I hope to end the [article] leaving you with new thoughts about how one may approach the issue of God in the 21st century.

The Book

I am going to start my analysis with The God Delusion (2006). In The God Delusion, evolutionary biologist and scientific naturalist Richard Dawkins forwards the hypothesis that God or a ‘supernatural creator’ is highly improbable. In this critique Dawkins does not go so far as to say that the Deist conception of God is impossible (i.e. a God who creates the universe and then has nothing more to do with Nature), but does say that the conception of a personal God is so improbable so as to be classified as a cognitive delusion beyond all reason. The reason why Dawkins believes that a personal God is a cognitive delusion beyond all reason is that there is no empirical evidence in nature for the existence of an intelligent or conscious agency that cares about humans or intervenes in human affairs. All of science, from physics to chemistry to geology to biology, suggest that the world operates by natural laws and requires no further assumption in order to make predictions about the way the world works and the way humans constitute the world.

Now I want to take a quick analysis of the some of the underlying assumptions that structure the arguments of The God Delusion. The first assumption related to the improbability of a supernatural creator rests on an assumption that depends on probabilistic logic. Probabilistic logic by definition cannot say anything with absolute certainty. We can just say that something has a certain probability of being true or false depending on the given evidence. What is interesting to know is that probabilistic logic is a foundation of the scientific worldview that stems from the quantum mechanical revolution. Before the quantum mechanical revolution science tended more towards an understanding of the world that was based on deterministic logic, where we could say with absolute certainty where something was or if something happened. That is why the early modern physicists believed that if we had all available information about the structure of the universe we would be able to predict every movement in all of space and all of time. After the quantum mechanical revolution this is no longer possible because things only have certain probabilities of being in a certain place at a certain time. This of course depends on the collapse of the wave function in the Schrödinger time evolution equation.

The second assumption I want to assess is that the idea that a personal God is a delusion rests on the assumption that delusions are negative or bad or false. This assumption can hold if one is thinking in terms of Newtonian epistemological framework that operates on a reflection correspondence principle (i.e. where a belief or thought must reflect and correspond with some natural object). However, when one is thinking in psychological terms, like for example, in terms of the subject’s well-being, or in terms of the subject’s ethics, or in terms of the subject’s morality; then the status of a delusion becomes more complex. Indeed, there are many studies in psychology that now make a very strong case that delusions can have positive psychological benefits for a subject’s well-being and even for their biological health. Also, if we are thinking purely in terms of psychological reality, the very nature of what counts as a delusion and what does not count as a delusion, becomes very difficult to discern. How can we determine whether materialist atheism is not a delusion that is simply stabilizing the subjective well-being of an individual within the historical context of defending the profession of evolutionary biology from fundamentalist Christians?

Third, the idea that religious belief is false and contradicted by empirical evidence rests on the assumption of naturalist empiricism. In other words, natural empiricism is the idea that we should only believe in things that we can observe in nature and that we should not believe in things that we cannot observe in nature. Based on that assumption believing in a supernatural creator may indeed be a false belief, but it is only a false belief if one rests on this assumption.

Now I will attempt to critique these assumptions, not as totally wrong, but as resting on shaky metaphysical or philosophical grounds.

The first critique I will offer has to do with Dawkins claim that a supernatural creator is improbable and that this claim rests on a probabilistic logical assumption. In order to critique this I will posit that probabilistic logic itself may not be the highest form of logic embedded within physics considering that contemporary physics is attempting to synthesize quantum mechanics (a probabilistic knowledge) with general relativity (which is still a deterministic logic). For example, Albert Einstein believed that all events structuring the entire dynamical spacetime manifold were determined and that time was a ‘stubborn illusion’. In this sense, until we have a theory of quantum gravity we do not know whether probabilistic logic is the highest form of logic; or if there is still space for a deterministic, or overdeterministic, or another form of logic that can allow us to have a higher level of certainty about the nature of nature.

The second critique I will offer is that the idea that believing in a personal God is a delusion and that delusions are negative can be countered when we think about reality in terms of the type of reality that is thought in psychoanalysis. In psychoanalysis we are not thinking about the subject’s correlation with scientific objectivity or correlation with a Kantian noumenal realm or with a Platonic realm of Ideas; we are thinking about the subject’s speech and the subject’s visions on the subject’s own terms. We are attempting to understand the structure of the signifying chain and the reality of that signifying chain for self-conscious beings. In that sense psychoanalytic reality takes a totally different approach to delusion and belief then scientific naturalism.

The third critique I will offer is related to the idea that believing in God is a false belief that contradicts empirical evidence framed within a naturalist empirical frame because 19th and 20th century philosophy has attempted to structures its knowledge based on various forms of transcendental empiricism. Here we can site traditions that range from historical phenomenology to existentialism. When we think on the terms of transcendental empiricism we are again not thinking about the subject’s correlation with nature but the subject’s own phenomenological realm in its totality and the various problems that the subject must cope with in order to deal with the brutal challenges of existence; most notably, the challenges of mortality and the challenges of finitude. The human being is a strange creature, not because it is mortal and finite, but because it is reflective and aware of its mortality and its finitude. In this sense transcendental empiricism complicates assumptions commonly found in natural empiricism.

The Worldview

Now that we have had a chance to consider an overview, analysis and critique of The God Delusion, let’s consider the historical mind behind the book. Richard Dawkins is a world famous evolutionary biologist who has made several important contributions to genetics and selection theory; namely, he is an expert in theory related to the Modern Darwinian synthesis that brought molecular genetics together with natural selection theory.

In terms of philosophy Dawkins is fiercely naturalistic believing only in the reality of nature, inclusive of physics, chemistry, biology, sociology and so forth. Thus, for Dawkins, any belief that contradicts or posits something more then nature is something he believes should be deconstructed in favour for a secular explanation.

Finally, in terms of politics, Dawkins tends towards progressive liberalism and humanism, arguing for social state intervention in order to solve problems of education, health care, and general social functioning; and arguing that human creativity and human self-consciousness are the highest principles of social being.

In terms of his personal assumptions for this worldview, Dawkins posits that our understanding of biological appearances, i.e. that we confront a world of a multiplicity of biological forms, is basically complete. In other words, Dawkins believes that the Darwinian revolution with the introduction of the idea of natural selection does all of the important metaphysical heavy lifting in order to explain how biology emerges and evolved across time on Earth.

Second, Dawkins believes that our explanation for the physical appearances of the world, including the structure of planets, solar systems, galaxies, is incomplete but its completion is immanent. In other words, Dawkins believes that the physics community and their knowledge practices are capable of completing our explanation for the appearance of the physical world and that they will be able to accomplish this without any need for a spiritual or supernatural metaphysical principle, like God, or gods.

Third, from these assumptions, Dawkins believes that religious myths and institutions should be deconstructed and replaced with scientific literalist explanations and secular institutions; and that social-historical progress would happen much faster if we could convince the majority of humans that there is only the natural world and that all religious myths and institutions get in the way of our building a clear thinking and rational civilization.

Now I will offer a critique of some of these assumptions. The first critique I will offer is in relation to the idea that our understanding of biological appearance is complete or mostly completed with the Darwinian revolution based on the idea of natural selection. This critique has absolutely nothing to do with the critique proposed by intelligent design thinkers that there is an intelligence force that exists and guides the evolution of life from the simple to the complex, and ultimately towards the formation of the human being. Instead, this critique has to do with the phenomenological study of autopoiesis when approaches the problem of how self-relating beings appear in the world. In this way the study of autopoiesis is the study, not of how living forms are selected in relationship to different environmental conditions, but how forms come to possess an internal constitution or organization (a ‘self-organization’). The study of autopoiesis and self-organization offer more complications to evolutionary theory then is often acknowledged by more environmentally focused theorists because it forces us to confront the internal structure of life worlds and the possibility that living forms could determine their own form independent of environmental selection pressures.

The second critique I will offer is in relation to the idea that physics communities will soon be able to produce a complete explanation for the appearance of the physical world. This critique has nothing to do with the possibility that physicists could achieve such a feat of knowledge, but more to do with the conditions and consequences for such a feat of knowledge. As is commonly known, in order to solve the problems of how the physical universe appeared at all, physicists must solve the problem of singularities, i.e. that our cosmological theory of general relativity based on Einstein’s field equations breaks down at singularities like the big bang and black holes. In order to resolve these problems physicists need to develop a theory of quantum gravity that is capable of unifying the Planck scale phenomena with the macroscopic scale phenomena. In that sense we have no idea what the consequences for our understanding of the universe will be once we have an understanding of quantum gravity. All we can know is that the consequences for how we think about nature are likely to be revolutionary on a very high order (such as fundamentally rethinking what we think about space and time themselves).

The third critique has to do with the common humanist and secular assumption that the scientific secular worldview can totally replace the religious spiritual worldview. However, what this may miss is the possibility that scientific truths of the world (say of physics, chemistry, biology); and more importantly, the methodology of how we arrive at those truths through empirically verifiable observation, can also be extracted and applied to the realm of human becoming without any paradoxes or failures. Perhaps the best example of this is that traditional religions historical function has been for communal organization; including the domain of social ritual and belief that holds a collectivity together; including the regulation of sexual desires and family building. Without this traditional religious social architecture society becomes regulated by individuality that has many positive dimensions, but also some trade offs. Thus at this stage in our historical becoming I do not think we can say that scientific truths of the world that can be applied universally for investigating the givenness of being; can also be applied universally to the human realm and our collective interpretations and transformations of being. In order to engage with the phenomenological historical order we must be open to the fact that many human beings stabilize their collective world with recourse to a higher source of meaning and wonder, and not all humans find this higher source of meaning and wonder in naturalist empiricism. Of course, it makes sense that Richard Dawkins would find this source of meaning and wonder in naturalist empiricism; but I do not think we cannot assume that it is universal.

The Book

In contrast to material atheism of The God Delusion and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins; I now want to compare that structure to the structure of the material atheism we find in the Écrits and psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. In the Écrits we find a book that aims to understand the division of the subject; what Lacan calls the division that structures the emergence of an imaginary object that subject comes to denote as most real. In this sense, whereas Dawkins focuses in the improbability of a supernatural creator, what Lacan is focusing on is the emergence of an unconscious creation; a creation that appears to the subject but which is not the subject’s creation; something that paradoxically structures the subject. This is what Lacan refers to as the objet petit a; the object cause of desire.

Second, in contrast to Dawkins assertion that belief in a personal God is a delusion, throughout the Écrits Lacan focuses on the dimension of subjective truth, which he infamously claims, is structured “like a fiction”. In this sense what Lacan means is that the subject structures the truth of its worth; the core of its world; around the dimension of a fictional structure that enables the subject to stabilize and maintain coherence to its life world. Thus, for Lacan, every worldview is in some sense a personal delusion of the subject that may come to be constituted with reason, but is primordially constituted in the real of desire. For this reason, whereas modern philosophy is structured by the Kantian turn to the critique of pure reason; we may say that modern psychoanalysis structured by the Freudo-Lacanian turn to the critique of pure desire. What this means is that Lacan makes the claim that what is more real to the subject is its realm of unconscious desires.

Third, in contrast to Dawkins who asserts that false beliefs is equal to a belief that contradicts empirical evidence; for Lacan, he operates on the understanding that unconscious belief is an empirical evidence. The reason why this constitutes empirical evidence is because it exists and constitutes our shared phenomenological historical reality. In other words, the unconscious belief is something that upholds historical order of reality, whether it is the traditional order of reality that tends towards belief in a personal entity or a transcendental entity; or whether it is the modern order of reality that tends towards belief in a constraining natural entity; or whether it is the postmodern order of reality that tends towards belief in a constraining social entity. In this sense unconscious belief exerts what Lacan would phrase along the lines of a materialist force: what we may call the materialist force of ideology.

Here let us analyze some of the assumptions that are presupposed by Lacan in order to structure this work. The first assumption is that the structure of the unconscious is not only something that we can know with certainty exists as a realm of our minds beyond our conscious control; but also something within our minds that demands knowing with absolute certainty. In order to play with this dimension of the mind Lacan frequently makes references to Descartes who structured modern scientific philosophy under the methodology of how we can know something with certainty. For Descartes, he started with the idea that we should doubt everything, and then move through the world searching for the observable empirical evidence that can verify certainties of our worldview; so that we can know for sure we are building our worldview on a firm foundation. Lacan inverts this Cartesian effort by emphasizing that the very logical structure of Descartes mind is the nature of the unconscious; that the unconscious forms a ground for subjectivity where logical processes are released that move from doubt to certainty.

Thus, Lacan paradoxically reverses the Cartesian program from its empirical natural Other, and situates it in relation to the Hegelian historical Other which is an Other constituted by desire. In this sense the psychoanalytic session moves in the opposite direction of science: whereas science moves from doubt to certainty with probabilistic logic vis-a-vis the natural world; psychoanalysis moves from certainty to doubt with an absolute logic. This means that what psychoanalysis starts with is the certainty of the emotional structure of anxiety and desire. As is common knowledge among Lacanians, Lacan was convinced that anxiety was the emotion that “does not lie”. In that sense analysis starts with the structures of anxiety that form the subject and, in analysis, gets the subject to break down these structures of anxiety so that the subject can articulate its desire independent of the big Other. This is why Lacan equates “traversing the fantasy” with the idea that “there is no Other”.

Second, Lacan does not believe that there is an noumenal truth or a scientific objective truth in the sense that most modern people assume. This is not the same as saying that Lacan thinks science is just a social construction; because Lacan does not believe this; in fact he spends most of his career attempting to get psychoanalysis to the level of a science. However, at the same time, Lacan stands on the assumption that all truth is in some sense articulated within the formation of a delusion. What this means is that Lacan conceives of the truth, not as an “Absolute Oneness” or pure coherent and consistent clarity (as in the pre-modern notion of God); but instead as an Absolute divided from itself; and thus inherently structured like an anamorphic curvature or distortion of perceived reality. Here in making this assumption Lacan attempts to make his way dialectically from the realm of the imaginary to see the ways in which it can be made to overlap with the structure of the real, which is not an external reality, but a central coordinate of desire that stimulates the motion of a subjective drive.

Third, as opposed to naturalist empiricism, Lacan is much more aligned with the notion of a transcendental empiricism; which means that the horizon of the subject’s world is something that he comes to treat empirically, as the domain where truth intervenes into the world and transforms the world in interpretational structures. In that sense Lacan takes as empirical object the structure of a subject’s speech; what he comes to situate as constitutive of the symbolic order. Here we can juxtapose this approach to Dawkins starting assumptions, because for Dawkins, his primary object of analysis is what we may call the appearances of the biological order. However, for Lacan, the appearance of the biological order and its structure is always already within the structure of the symbolic order. That is not to say that there are not biological forms in-themselves, existing really out there, but that our understanding of the biological order is always already within the horizon of the symbolic order and its constitution within our own self-positing.

Now, as I critiqued The God Delusion, I will now critique the Écrits. The first thing we can say is that, as noble an attempt as the Ecrits is to structure our understanding to the unconscious, we can also say that it failed in terms of its attempt to make psychoanalysis a science. In some sense psychoanalysis cannot be made into a science because knowledge of the unconscious cannot be proven in the same way as our knowledge of physics or chemistry or biology can be proven. The unconscious is off limits to our collective observation. It is a totally other order of reality, an order of reality that we do not yet know how to approach. In that sense, while the Écrits is worth our time and attention, we can say that it failed to institute psychoanalysis as a science.

Second, we may say that the Lacanian approach to psychoanalysis, although it attempted to formulate towards objectivity; and in this approach Lacan makes considerable progress. We can also say that we are not yet at a level of moving from a subjectivist interpretation to a level of objectivity that has come to be expected in fields such as physics. However, because Lacan was of an exceptional level of precision with his desires to formulate the field of psychoanalysis with mathematical terminology; we can say that Lacan brings us or points us in the direction where we may be able to take what is today a subjectivist path, into an objectivist path. In order to follow in this direction we should once again read and understand the structure of Lacanian algebra and precisely the way in which he structures his formalisms around the notion of the objet petit a.

Third, we may also say that reading Lacan can lead to more confusion than clarity when it comes to understanding what he meant with some of his axioms and positing. For example, one of Lacan’s most infamous axioms is the idea that ‘God is unconscious’. But what does Lacan mean precisely by this term? Does he mean that God is the structure of our unconscious minds? Does he mean that our unconscious minds structure historical reality? Does he mean that the unconscious mind is what is immanent to historical process? Here we can take the time to decipher some of Lacan’s more obscure writings but this takes a lot of work and effort and will lead to unnecessary confusion and division; as can already be seen in contemporary psychoanalysis which is bifurcated along many different methods of interpretation, whether that be Freudian, or Jungian, or Kleinian, or Winnicottian, or Lacanian, and so forth.

The Worldview

Now let us move to Lacan himself and his worldview. First we can say that Lacan the man was a man of science and a man of psychology. What this means is that Lacan was in no means someone who was against science or against modern psychology; but only against science and against psychology insofar as it was seeking to reduce the subject into an object from an external point of view. In that sense Lacan was someone who thought there was limits to the external point of view, that at some point we had to turn ourselves upside down and attempt to look at and understand the world from the inside; from the objectivity that Lacan claims emerges from the inside.

Second, we can say that this led Lacan into the realm of philosophy and into the realm of historical phenomenology. Lacan spent much of his time understanding the phenomenological and existential traditions, most notably Hegel and Heidegger; and believed strongly that the dialectical method was something that was irreducibly something that psychoanalysis required in order to make progress. For Lacan, within understanding the very appearing of being, as opposed to understanding being itself, we cannot make progress in analysis. In this sense the existential structures that emerge due to the way in which being appears to itself; whether they be neurotic, or hysterical, or scientific or religious; we must take them seriously as objective distortions that emerge internal to the subjective way in which being appears to itself.

Third, Lacanian politics is hard to understand. What we can know for sure is that Lacan cannot be situated neatly along the political spectrum as a Right leaning conservative or a Left leaning liberal. However, what we can say is that his major psychoanalytic approach was informed in relation to the notion of the Other; for Lacan there was always a non-psychical social Other that sought to overdetermine the coordinates of our being; whether that Other was capitalist, socialist, communist, fascist or otherwise; and he was in some sense attempting to understand the nature of this relation, between the individual and the Other it desires to be recognized by and to be constituted within.

Here the assumptions that underlie Lacan’s worldview, which is also a strange form of materialist atheism, are structured under the belief that demonstrating the improbability of God’s existence does not refute God’s existence. One can make a strong argument that God is improbable but, for Lacan, this does nothing to stop the way in which God functions as an Other overdetermining the coordinates of subjective becoming. One may make a strong naturalist case for the inexistence of God; but this may have little to no effect on someone who strongly believes in God as an Absolute Other.

Second, Lacan believes that there was a reality in the psychical realm that did not correspond to or reflect within it anything to do with a naturalist realm. In that sense Lacan believed that new forms of reality can come into existence with the emergence of psychical reality. Consequently, Lacan spent most of his time attempting to understand this psychical realm and the reals that become structured by it. This is crucial to understand in order to approach the complexity of the Lacanian notion of the Real. The Real is not (as it is commonly misunderstood to be) something external and out there. The Real is something that does not pre-exist human beings; and the Real is not something that exists once human beings cease to exist. For Lacan, the Real is something that co-overlaps with the circular motion introduced by the symbolic order.

Third, Lacan, as I have already mentioned, was not antagonistic with science. However, he also viewed science from the psychical historical perspective. And from this point of view Lacan asserted that scientific knowledge gained a type of social functioning as one of the many figures of the big Other. From this perspective what he means is that science comes to function as an Other in a similar way to the way in which religion functions as an Other; in the sense that science brings an internal coherence and consistency to a subject’s worldview. Moreover, and more strongly, Lacan believed that every subject, in some sense, had become subjected to this Other. From this point of view Lacan did not believe that religious subjects in the modern world existed in the same way that religious subjects subjects existed in the pre-modern world. There was an irreducible real introduced by science that forces subjects to recognize its authority and its primacy as a form of knowledge.

We may also offer a critique of the Lacanian worldview. The first and most obvious critique that we can offer is that Lacan’s discourse is incredibly obscure and almost impenetrable. This makes interpretation of his work incredibly difficult and time consuming. We can say that on some level it was necessary for Lacan to structure his work in the way he did because he was approaching a very difficult object of analysis; namely the internal subjective world of unconscious minds. However, what makes understanding Lacan much easier is to understand the mathematical structure of his work. When one understands the mathematical structure of his work one is able to better understand the logic of his writing. In that sense it can help us to understand the otherwise obscure and impenetrable discourse.

Second, we can say that the Freudo-Lacanian psychoanalytic project is internally incoherent and divisive. What I mean by this is that the project as a whole has led to internal divisions that are irreconcilable and even the leading Lacanian theorists are not always capable of agreeing on the basic fundamental principles. From that point of view it becomes difficult to make coherent progress; and in that sense we can say that the psychoanalytic project has been a failure in comparison to evolutionary biology as a project; because evolutionary biology as a project, although it has its divisions, has always led to more coherence then almost any other scientific field.

Third, the main objects that concerned Lacan were the nature of the unconscious, the nature of language, and the nature of the mind in its historical totality. Of course, we can learn a lot about the unconscious, language, and the mind in its totality, from reading Lacan. However, at the same time, we can also say that at this stage of our understanding we do not have anywhere near a complete or a consistent understanding of these phenomena. In that sense there is much much more work to be done; from this point of view the Lacanian project is just a door, a door opening up onto an infinite field of future mind in becoming.

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Towards synthesis for materialist atheism

Now let us try to bring this analysis together. First we approached the book The God Delusion by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins who argued that a supernatural creator was improbable; that a personal God is a delusion; and that believing in God was a false belief contradicted by empirical evidence. Second we approached the book Écrits by psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan who argued that the subject was traversed by creations of an unconscious nature; that subjective truth was irreducibly structured by fiction; and that unconscious belief was an object of empirical examination.

What I want to do here is bring the major themes of these works into conversation. First, I want to say that the major claims made by Dawkins need to be re-assessed in relationship to the fact that the field of quantum gravity is not yet fully mature; and that when we do have an understanding of quantum gravity many of the answers that hold his worldview together may have to be fundamentally reassessed due to a change in the structural logic that upholds the quantum mechanical scientific worldview.

Second, the phenomenological approach to biology, most notably structured under the domain of autopoiesis offers us a perspective on an approach to life and mind that raises far more questions about the structure of its evolution then we can assume to know from the Darwinian perspective. This does not mean that we regress into intelligent design, but it does mean that our understanding of what life is and our understanding of what mind is, is no where near complete.

Third, we have to have a better understanding of the nature of historical consciousness; we cannot assume that because we understand the evolution of biology; or even the appearance of the physical order; that that correlates to an understanding of historical consciousness, which has been irreducibly entangled with thought structures supporting the emergence and development of religion; and also entangled with thought structures obsessed by fundamental existential questions. This is irreducible and not going anywhere due to a naturalist deconstruction.

Now, to Lacan. First I want to say that Lacan was so deeply immersed in the realm of psychology that he did not spend nearly enough time embedding this work in physics or trying to understand the potential connections between physics and psychology. This is not a direction that has been totally ignored in psychoanalysis, most notably, Carl Jung spent a lot of time in correspondence with Wolfgang Pauli in order to try to better understand the relationship between physics and psychology. Moreover, Lacan spends a great deal of time pointing in the direction that there was a fundamental connection between physics and psychology; but never makes it an object of his full attention.

Second, what Lacan brings to our attention is that the relationship between biology and language is far more complicated then we currently assume. Lacan was very skeptical that an evolutionary biological interpretation of the world could explain all of the complexities of the human world and the human mind. In that sense we need to find a way to make a synthesis between the worlds of evolutionary biology, and the worlds of psychoanalysis, in order to better understand why these forms of knowledge do not often lend themselves to integration.

Third, when Lacan emphasizes the irreducibility of fiction to the nature of the subject’s truth; we need to be able to think what this means in the context of modern technology. As is common knowledge, we are bombarded today with projections about a future technological state in which human minds are transcended for higher technological minds. In this conversation what is often lost is the fact that human subjectivity is constituted by fictional structures that may become magnified or enhanced by the future technological apparatuses. What is the consequences of such a merger for our understandings of fundamental ontology. Here we may find it useful to read Lacan through the eyes of Hegel; who saw human knowledge or epistemological constructs as irreducibly entangled with natural being or ontological reality.

I this episode, as mentioned, I wanted to both introduce you to an interesting tension in modern philosophical theory and also introduce you to a potentially interesting new way to approach this tension. The tension I am speaking about is the tension of the existence or non-existence of God. In order to explore this tension I wanted to juxtapose two texts and two figures who approached God from the perspective of materialist atheism, but approached from radically different perspectives, one from the perspective of evolutionary biology and scientific naturalism, and one from the perspective of psychoanalysis and historical phenomenology. In this exploration I hope that I left you with new thoughts about how one may approach the issue of God in the 21st century. For me, when we talk about the nature of God as an Absolute Being, we have to be able to think about the way in which our own minds are part of a historically engaged phenomenal realm that is interacting with given being. In that sense there is no reason to totally negate the works of scientific naturalism and no reason to negate the works of historical phenomenology, but instead, we should attempt to try our best to bring them into a synthesis.

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Works Cited:

Dawkins, R. 2006. The God Delusion. Random House.

Lacan, J. 2005. Écrits: The First Complete Edition in English. Translated by Bruce Fink. New York: Norton.


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