Hegel Quote In An
Atheist Encyclopedia?
A. Barnes

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "A. Barnes"
Subject: Re: Hegel, for example
Date: Thursday, June 08, 2000 7:16 PM

Sometimes it is even to our advantage to point out that a theist made a particular statement which backs up our case, but as Thomas Paine observed, the person who said it doesn't change what was said. Many of our greatest separationist quotes are from theists. The feature articles for the past two print editions of Positive Atheism Magazine (April and May, 2000) were written by theists. The May article, written by a Baptist leader, was so important that I went to the expense of issuing a special edition so I wouldn't have to split the article over two or three issues. (A special edition is 16 pages needing two ounces of postage [55¢], rather than the normal ten pages needing one ounce of postage [33¢].)

I don't think the Hegel quote is taken out of context, but I could be wrong. It is from Haught's book of quotations, which itself refers to Noyes's book of quotations. I don't even know the original source of the quote. The quote in question is:


The proofs of the existence of God are to such an extent fallen into discredit that they pass for something antiquated, belonging to days gone by.
-- from Rufus K. Noyes, Views of Religion, also James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief


Allow me to indulge in a fantasy, which is not from any understanding of Hegel (as I have never studied him), but is pure speculation on my part: Perhaps Hegel could be admitting that the old "proofs" which theologians formerly used can no longer be counted as valid proofs by today's standards. Perhaps he then posits newer, seemingly more up-to-date "proofs." Even if this were the case, it only shows that even our reasons for thinking that a God exists are not etched in stone, but are always subject to scrutiny. There goes the notion of God being "the same yesterday, today, and forever"! Giving (my above fantasy of) Hegel the benefit of the doubt, I would say that this (fantasy of mine) is the scientific method applied to apologetics: when the old "proofs" stop working, they must be abandoned. If Hegel was doing this (and I don't know whether he was), then he has my respect for pointing this out.

In any event, truth is truth. Only when, for example, a particular group is known to give unorthodox meanings to various words do we really need to take who said it into consideration, and only becase we do well to know which meaning they give to the word.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

Graphic Rule

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