Maybe it’s because I live alone, but I spend a good deal of time arguing with my reading material, especially those essays or books that are nonfiction. My complaints aren’t content to be voiced in my head but are expressed out loud, as if the author were perched in the armchair across from me. Taking my vengeance out upon the pages, I scratch one remark after another on the text in a fiery retort — which means I can’t resell the material after I’ve disfigured it.
A classic example of a work that is constantly being edited is one I mentioned ages ago and through which I’m still inching my way: Why Does the World Exist? by Jim Holt. At the moment, I am slightly less than half way through the book, not because Holt is a poor writer or the work is abstruse, but because I can’t stop rebutting the material, largely historical. For example, Holt outlines St. Anselm’s argument for God’s existence:
God is the greatest imaginable being
A being that exists is greater than one that is merely imaginary
God exists. (Ibid pg. 112)
Well, no. God may be the greatest being imaginable but that still leaves Him as a thought in my head. And the belief that a being which exists is greater than an imaginary one is merely opinion. Plato argued the reverse: that the idea was perfection and reality was the imperfect version. I scrawl “fallacy” beside Anselm’s syllogism.
I don’t know whether or not God exists. But so far, I’ve gone through 118 pages of similarly tortured arguments and I keep wondering if it would be a crime to say “I don’t know whether or not God exists” ? Apparently it is a crime because libraries are crammed with fallacious arguments that serious students are forced to treat seriously. Men and women grow old trying to understand many of these treatises Wouldn’t it be better if we diverted our energy into being kind to one another? If kindness were the rule, that might be enough evidence to prove that God exists.
(Michelangelo’s God courtesy of wikipedia.com)
(This blog first publish 12/27/2012)