No doubt in response to my September 11 column on atheists, William Roufberg, a retired Princeton High School history teacher and a longtime (and — we are tempted to say — faithful) reader of U.S. 1, mailed in the following dispatch.
#b#Thoughts on God/b#
1. Socrates: God is the sum total of all the forms in the universe.
2. Aristotle: God is motion, the first mover, unmoved.
3. Spinoza: God is not the creator but the creation.
4. Epicurus: God is; but takes no notice of his creation.
5. Kant: God is a moral condition within us, known as our conscience.
6. Buber: To know God is to love mankind.
7. Hegel: God is the pattern or unfolding of history.
8. Bergson: God is the manifestation of life but not God himself.
9. Sartre: God exists but is silent. You are responsible for your life.
10. Spaulding: God is a name for a system of values worthy of worship.
11. Russell: God is whatever one defines God to be.
12. Nietzsche: God once existed but is no longer active nor sought.
13. Marx: A spiritual God is unknowable to a material man.
14. Santayana: God is necessary to satisfy man’s need for his imagination.
15. James: God is a belief whose consequences are beneficial.
16. G.B. Shaw: God is man’s inspiration to be holy.
17. St. Anselm: God is something than which nothing more perfect can be.
18. Al Khwarizmi: God is real but unknown. Consider the zero in arithmetic. You can’t build real numbers without it.
19. Ockham: God, unseen, helps explain that which is seen but not known.
20. Pascal: It is better to believe in God than not . . . because:
If you say God exists, and he does, you win.
If you say God exists, and he doesn’t, you lose nothing.
If you say God does not exist, and he doesn’t, you lose nothing.
If you say God doesn’t exist, and he does exist, you lose. Wow! (But God may forgive you.)
21. Freud: God is the perfect father we always wanted.
22. Origen: An all good God is not responsible for evil.
23. Jefferson: Just as a clock has a clockmaker, the universe is God’s clock.
24. Kilmer: Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.
25. Einstein: I believe in God who reveals himself in the harmony of what exists; in cosmic laws, not the actions of human beings.
26. A. Campbell: An atheist who says, “There are no absolutes” has just stated an absolute.
27. Voltaire: If there were no God, it would be necessary to invent Him.
28. A child of six: God exists because God wouldn’t be that mean to fool us.
29. Deepak Chopra: To see God, look in the mirror. To hear God, listen to your inner voice. To experience God, love one another.
30. Balzac: God is the author; we are only the players.
31. Ramakrishna: You say that you don’t feel God. Tell me, does a fish feel wet?
32. Aquinas: Everything has a purpose. The acorn becomes an oak. This design we call God.
33. Cicero: Without the gods; no holiness, no wisdom, nothing to honor, no virtue to emulate.
34. Wovoka (a Sioux): God speaks to us in our dreams.
35. Browning: What some call nature, I call God.
36. Maimonides: Lack of understanding God is no reason to deny God.
Roufberg modestly tucked his own observation on God into the No. 34 slot on the list, but in my opinion it was one of the best, and I have saved it for last:
37. Roufberg: Religion satisfies those needs that science does not.
Religion: from Sanskrit, ancient Hindu term meaning to be bonded to a God. Judaism, Christianity, and Muslim religions regard practitioners to be contractually bound to God.
I appreciate Bill Roufberg’s timely letter. The fact is that this column always needs help. While I discourage your prayers (I am probably a lost cause), your thoughts are most welcome.