Joel Pinheiro

Posts Tagged ‘does God exist?’

The Argument from Desire

In Essay on February 23, 2010 at 1:17 am

Can a desire, a feature of one’s inner life, tell us anything about the external world? The usual response is that it can’t. Someone having a certain desire doesn’t mean that the desired object actually exists. I would love to see into other people’s minds, to fly by sheer will-power and to have a juicy unicorn filet for lunch; alas, no tasty unicorns around.

That being so, what to make of the argument that seeks to prove the existence of God from our desire for God to exist? Is it valid? In its usual formulation, it certainly is not. Not all particular desires are capable of being fulfilled; and the desire for God is one particular wish among many. But what if we move from particular desires to broader categories of want? On a very basic level, most would agree that categories of desire tell us something about external reality. Man is an animal, and as such has various needs. Hunger, thirst, sleep, sexual urges exist because he needs food, water, sleep and sex in order to survive and reproduce. The particular food I want may not exist, but there certainly is food. It would be very odd indeed (even from an evolutionary perspective) if there were a category of desire which admitted of no possible satisfaction. It would elicit the question “why is it there?” in both of its meanings: “how did it come about?” and “what for?”. Read the rest of this entry »