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gennaio 2012


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God in the contemporary world

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The current configuration of religious experience and the search for God is, without doubt, paradoxical. It is no coincidence that today we talk with insistence about a return of the religious, of its relocation in the public space, a thirst for spirituality that enlarges the space of human research. Nevertheless, the scenario of post-modern culture is inhabited by a new atheism, which comes with more careful movements to the fragility of men and women, and bearer of a way of life less burdened by rules and principles.

God sees the desire of man

A series of publicity appeared in several European cities has given voice to an ironic and provocative proposal: "Probably there is no God. Stop worrying and enjoy your life." Evidently, behind easy to use slogans, you can see a more complex and articulated trajectory, which starts from the prophecy of the philosopher F. Nietzsche's death of God and the futility of contemporary man’ s life.
[i] Well, the consequence of such a hypotesis, perhaps,  should take place in the progressive drying up of religious desire, as a farewell to the search for a kept meaning in God's name. In fact, there is increasingly a question of spirituality, interested in finding a personal balance and a proposal that makes up for the stress of everyday life. The increase, however, of religious rewarding and therapeutic experience, indicates caution in decreeing the end of the nostalgia for the sacred, calling for an additional investigation on the value and scope of the religious question today. However, it is undeniable a datum: the rich variety of the religious offer shows a plurality of faces of the divine, understanding the human need to find meaning to existence, perceived in its problematic nature. Before these indications, the choice between nostalgia or eclipse of God is interwoven with the unavoidable need to believe that endures, even though this is considered by many an immature way to meet with life. Just such resistance makes hardship to a reading of reality that would definitely put in the attic  the problem of God. Perhaps, if we are less interested in the evidence’s question of his existence, this does not mean that the question of God is indifferent to human research. But how is articulated, then, the question of God as an opportunity to rediscover and revalue?

An atheist spirituality?

Let's start with an observation. The contemporary paradigm suggests (or requires) a radical change to understand God and his relationship with the world.
[ii] The advance of scientific knowledge increasingly felt, and the emancipation of philosophical reason highlighted the autonomy of the reality, which has its own laws, working by itself. Does still make sense referring to '"God’s hypothesis" (P.S. Laplace) when we are speaking about the phenomena occurring in the world? Is it not likely to make God as a necessity, an explanation that links his name to the list of hypothesis that the first error of interpretation, inevitably falls in the register of non-sense?
We should not wonder, then, that the scientific research raises a question of method to know about the man, seen as reliable and reproducible over the world in which we live. Faced with this, the affirmation of God seems to be hard to justify, especially if it meets some criteria. It remains as the background of a human need; indeed, a competitive advantage for the human species in the long journey of his growth and identity. Through a combination of imagination and desire, God has taken the place of the unknown, the unspeakable, a code of a partial and inadequate knowledge. In short, it has compensated for a scientific deficit.
Nevertheless, God is convenient to emotional balance of man, even if it has no reality outside of human consciousness. If the conclusion is this, we understand that the question of God is already marked by a precise remark: for it is not experienced in the same way as other objects of knowledge, it derives its projection’s character of human desire, symbolic utility. In short, it works as a private space that feeds the dream, the fantasy, the emotional. Yet, it would be interesting to understand why God and his name persist, although it is displayable to the contrary. Crucial question, because if the idea of ​​God was really fantastic, it would be more logical to decree culturally the end, once and for all. It remains, however, the need to motivate at least as, for a no-importance of God in the life, is accompanied by the perception that this idea plays a psychological and social role, non-marginal in reality.

Looking for a life’s meaning

The complexity of the search for God suggests not to have final and unappealable assessments. An atheist spirituality and a religiosity of the unbelievers are signs of a constant struggle that man carries in an attempt to identify the meanings that do not stop at the surface of things. One could say that the longing for God to enter into life through a new sacred that acts as a horizon in which the man traces the coordinates of self-respect, interpersonal relationships, the care of the world. The eagerness for justice, peace, human rights, quality of relationships in the tenderness and freedom, indicate the desire of a different world, trying a serious opposition to evil.

The reference to God may not be necessary, but it certainly is the possibility of a different way of thinking and acting in the world. So, if the post-modern culture has changed the imagery of God and criticized some of its features, while remains sensitive, available for any new research of God.[iii] In particular, where it experiments that God meets man with the discretion of his action and his presence, because shares the same passion of man in his path of liberation. It is neither a competitor nor a stopgap in nature and in history. If the longing for God seduces again, it is because God belongs to the logic of love and is experienced as free, travel companion that indicates the path of life, a hypothesis that can help to find the reality understood as full of meaning and truth different.

God inviting us to look on

Perhaps we are in the presence of a change in the search for God. There is here a thought that can not listen to one of the questions of man and  try the difference of God not as a limitation, but as a condition for a reversal of perspective. The question: where is God?, has not disappeared at all, but it shows with an attention to the relationship that the existence of man, nature and history have or may have with God. This question, however, knows having to deal with the failure and inadequacy, on the grounds that God does not coincide almost never with our ideas and representation. It takes them so that they can be recast in a continuous reflection born of the experience of meeting with him.

The same religious language formulates  metaphors and symbols that make up the desire for God as vital to man. However, what emerges from this research effort and often from the failure of the answers, is that God remains an open question to our thinking and living, which rises in the midst of life that aspires to the flowering of goodness and freedom. The hypothesis, therefore, is placed in on the question: Who is God?, knowing that from that angle, the research may see a particular itinerary: one that leads to the discovery of the original site of the say and God's show.
In Christianity, this place is the event of Jesus of Nazareth, as a starting point for a path that goes from God to the divine, rather than from the divine to God. His experience has opened a crisis in the common idea of God: of the imagery God, built on our logical and certain memberships, because it calls to see the differences; of the God replaced of our desire to dominate, since it indicates the beauty in accepting the otherness; of God, self, where God shows a lover of life, compassionate in the fight against evil and innocent suffering.

"God can dwell only in the depths of your consciousness, in the depths of your secret desires for personal fulfillment. For God can not be different from what your heart desires the best for your neighbors [...]. Listen to people talking about God, telling to you that God is like a light, sometimes blinding, and sometimes imperceptible, guiding your steps towards good and peace, never into meanness, cruelty and war”.[iv]

Carmelo Dotolo


[i] Cf F. COSENTINO, Immaginare Dio. Provocazioni postmoderne al cristianesimo, Cittadella, Assisi 2010.

[ii]  Cf COMITATO PER IL PROGETTOCULTURALE DELLA CEI (ed.), Dio oggi. Con lui o senza di lui cambia tutto. I dibattiti, Cantagalli, Siena 2010.

[iii]  Cf C. DOTOLO, Una fede diversa. Alla riscoperta del Vangelo, Messaggero, Padova 2009, 73-97.

[iv] 4J. ARIAS, Un Dio per il Duemila contro la paura e per la felicità, Cittadella, Assisi 1998, 193.



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