Quora answer: Does God Exist?
How do I confirm that God Exists?
Kent Palmer http://kdp.me Copyright 2011
By the author.
Figure 1: https://docs.google.com/drawings/d/1l7XTVod_z02S0QFrVwWlofuI-JYfVXMHF71NF0EAnAQ/edit?hl=en_US
Answer: God does not Exist, nor does He have Being, He is too exalted for that.
God does not have the standing of either Existence (creation) or Being (illusion) but a different standing called Manifestation. God manifests He is not a being or an existent.
The term Manifestation is taken from The Essence of Manifestation by M. Henry who uses it for the way Meister Eckhart describes the nature of God.
Trying to confirm that God Exists or has Being is like trying to make something impossible necessary or sufficient.
If something is absolute then it can have no contingency associated with it.
So let us consider the nature of Being.
If God had Being then he would only be possible in relation to the Indo-european languages and its speakers.
Being only exists in Indo-European languages, and so only Indo-European speakers could appreciate His nature, and that is a contingency, that there is a singular language group among all the others that used to exist on the planet that has Being in it as a concept and a grammatical structure. Also that grammatical structure is broken, and so Being (and Having) is evidently a construction from many roots, and therefore even in Indo-European it is not part of the original design of the language, but something that seems to have emerged at some point by putting together many different roots to get across this artificial concept of Being.
If God as Universal or an Absolute then this contingency prevents His being thought of as having Being. (Having is just a broken up in Indo-European grammars.) This is particularly true since our notion of God comes from a blending of the philosophical notions of Aristotle, and the and Semitic sources. The Hebrews had not idea of Being, because it is not in their language. In Aristotle and Plato God (as distinct from the gods) is basically an abstraction that solves the problem of the inconsistencies in Polytheism from a philosophical point of view.
Therefore, God, if Absolute, cannot have Being because Being is a contingency since it is associated only with one language group and no others. If God is not Absolute then He is not the God worshiped by the Monotheistic religions.Permission Granted by Publisher
In the appendix is a collection of references where I was trying to determine the roots for Existence in Hebrew and then cross correlate that with what the same root means in the other language. This turned out to be way more difficult than I imagined. One should be aware that when ever they use Being as the definition of what the Hebrew or Arabic terms mean above then that is spurious because there is only existence in Semitic languages due to its uniqueness to Indo-European languages.
Now my own feeling is that Egyptian is the oldest language, then because of structural purity Arabic comes next and then Hebrew and Aramaic come after that. And as I remember Egyptian has two roots for existence wnn and iw, and I believe they correlate roughly with the meaning difference between HYH (iw) in Hebrew and WJD (wnn?) in Arabic. So I offer as a hypothesis that one of these languages later languages focused on one kind of existence and the other focused on the other kind of existence in Egyptian. This needs to be a point of further research. See the end of this post for more information on Egyptians types of existence. I have a reference that says that HYH is related to iw. But for the relation of WJD to wnn, or wnt that is still up in the air. That is because wnn seems to be related to change, while iw is related to life, and breath, while WJD is related to ‘what is found’ and ecstasy. HYH in Arabic seems to mean to blow or to shoo, and is associated with breath, which is one of the meanings of HYH in Hebrew, but the root meaning in Hebrew for HYH seems to Fall or Occur but it also means breath. A related word in Arabic is Hayy which means to live. WJD in Arabic on the other hand means what is found. So there is no clear relation of one with the other in the three languages that is obvious.
This recalls the distinction in Arabic between Ruh and Nafs, which is like the difference between Soul and Spirit in English. Ruh means breathing, and Nafs means what is breathed, i.e. the air. Soul comes from a word that means the sea, which has waves like breath, and Spirit means something more like the air being breathed. Of course, the two are two sides of the same coin.
Similarly it could be that WJD and HYH seem to be two sides of the same coin, and may be related to the two kinds of existence in Egyptian. I could not determine what the WJD root means in Hebrew so that will have to be a subject of further study.
However, I think we know enough to continue our argument concerning the confirmation of the Existence of God now that we have determined that He has no Being. The next thing we want to do is to try to show He has no existence either. And the argument is that if God is Absolute then if there is any contingency involved that then it cannot be a description of God. Now in Arabic God (Allah) has the attribute of Life. But interestingly does not have the attribute of Existence. Now Muslims get around this by saying that Allah has Inherent Existence and is the only matter to have this standing (http://aa.trinimuslims.com/f47/the-attribute-of-al-wujud-existance-9689/) gives a good rendition of the standard argument. However, personally I think this lack of existence in the names of God in Islam is important and that the idea of splitting existence is the wrong approach to the problem. However, it is understandable that the Arabs did that because WJD was the only standing that they had in their language, and it is ridiculous to think that things found in creation have standing but God doesn’t. But I think they missed a significant hint that God might have a standing more exalted than we can attribute to things. The Quran makes clear that Allah is not associated with any thing. And so Muslims have gone wrong in their theology giving God the same standing as things, just because they did not have any further standing in their language. On the other hand God does have the attribute of Living in Islam, and so it is easier to say that HYH is an attribute of God as the giver of life and the Living himself. Yet in Islam it appears that although He has the name the one who gives existence, He does not have the attribute of existence Himself. So there is an asymmetry here, and that asymmetry to me is significant.
So what I want to argue is that God (Allah) does not exist, and does not have inherent existence. However just as Existence is broader than Being what ever standing that God has is broader than the standing of existence and encompasses existence. So in a narrow sense God has existence and being to the extent that He has a standing that is a higher logical type than that of Existence or Being. But this is a contradiction if the levels of Being, Existence and Manifestation are meta-levels because meta-levels and higher logical types are duals of each other. But for the sake of argument what I would like to propose is that God has the standing beyond Existence called Manifestation. I want to suggest that the reason there are two roots of existence in Egyptian is because the interspace (barzak) between them is manifestation. Arabic and Hebrew seems to have each concentrated on one of those kinds of Existence, i.e. Arabic took the one related to change (wnn), and the Hebrew took the one (iw) related to life and breath. The rationale here is that what changes in existence is what is found. And this is like Nafs or Spirit. On the other hand the breathing Ruh is like the iw and HYH. If you are not breathing then you are not going to find anything. They also chose different roots to pin these concepts to and only HYH and iw are directly related. But essentially what we seen in the Egyptian is that the difference or gap between the two kinds of existence indicates a deeper standing than the two types of existence. Further we know that there are two interpretations of existence in nondual terms which are emptiness and void. So Emptiness is the one associated with breath or life and thus the possibility of the inward and Void is the one associated with becoming and flux of change in the outward. If we posit that the Egyptian twin types of existence are the most primordial and we see the Arabic and the Hebrew each concentrating on one of those as their key term then it is possible to see the gap between these pair of existences and this pair of interpretations of existence as indicating that there is a deeper nondual, which I call manifestation. In Egyptian there is a third kind of existence that fulfills this middle role which is xpr which indicates creation. So in effect the gap between the dual nonduals emptiness and void leads to the deeper nondual of manifestation, and the gap from the point of view of existence itself is related to the xpr whose sign is the dung beetle, which rolls a little ball of dung before it. The Egyptians saw that as an analogy of God creating the world and keeping it turning. Also it is interesting that the Dung beetle does that to build a cocoon for its young, and so we also get an image of the “men of earth” i.e. those coming out of the dung ball when they are born as creatures come out of and then return to the earth.
It should be noted that like Hinduism behind the polytheism of Egypt was the concept of God as singular, so that other gods became his attributes. This God was a trinity with three names Amun, Ra, and Atun. Atun was the disc of the sun, Ra the manifestation of things by the light of the sun, and Amun, the hidden God. Moses could be seen as a Heretic who picked the hidden God as his Lord, just like Akhenaten picked Atun as the one God. The one reference to someone like Moses in Egyptian history seems to relate him to Akhenaten by accusing him of the same heresy that resulted in Akhenaten being erased from Egyptian history. Some say that Akhenaten and Moses are the same but now we know that Akhenaten selected Atun as his one god, which was an error because that is just one of the trinitarian aspects of Amun Ra Atun. Notice that Ra, or manifestation is the middle element between Amun and Atun, the hidden and the manifest sides of God. Many thing that Christian trinitarianism came from Egyptian trinitarianism. The Horus/Osiris myth is about an attempted resurrection. God the Father might be thought of as the Hidden God, the Sun could be thought of as like the outward manifestation of God in the world, such as in the Son. And the Ra could be associated with the Holy Ghost which is the way that the outward aspect of god manifests the world which is brought out of hiding by being created. Personally I think this might be too simplistic an analogy.
But, to return to the argument at hand, then what we want to say is that because there are two kinds of existence, this introduces contingency into existence because there cannot be two kinds of absolute. And so the standing of Existence does not apply to God (Allah, Yhwh, El) because it applies to created things. In the Egyptian one root has to do with creation xpr, and the other two with becoming flux of creation, and life/breath. Things in existence, i.e. things we find are creations (xpr) of God who gives existence to them, but God since He is not like a thing cannot have the same standing as the things he created. To say so is in Islam called Shirk. And Inherent Existence is still existence. It is connecting Existence with Necessity, and saying that all other things are not necessary existences. In effect the standard theological argument splits existence too, but gives God one part of it and says that the other part of it concrete things found in the world are somehow unreal because of the other kind of existence god has is more real somehow. This converts the existence of things into an illusion, and has the same effect as projecting Being on them which is the Indo-European ruse.
But even so by splitting existence between God and things one is introducing contingency and basically doing what Christian Theology does which is to say God is the supreme Being producing OntoTheological Metaphysics. Muslim Theologians have followed suit and produced a similar conundrum with the idea of ‘inherent necessary existence’ as opposed to the ‘accidental unnecessary existence’ of things. But Quran is quite clear that God does not share the same standing with things He created. And makes this point explicit by not making Existing an attribute of God.
So in effect although God does not have Being or Exist we can say He manifests, and this process in Sufism is called Tajalliyat of His attributes or Sifat. Thus the standing of God is that of his Sifat, or attributes, and that is called Tajalliat, unfolding, and I propose that this different standing of manifestation is doubly nondual, in that it has no other dual to it, like the duality between the nonduals emptiness and void.
So God Manifests and to us that is an epiphany, but He does not Exist nor does He have Being, and that Manifestation is perfectly nondual and unique in its deep nonduality. Manifestation is the opposite of xpr which is the created aspect of existence which is another way to fill the gap between the other two types of existence.
So you cannot confirm the existence of God nor His Being, because each of those standings have some sort of contingency to them. One is the contingency of illusion produced in only one family of languages. The other is the contingency of the splitting of existence and its interpretations. God is Absolute then he has to be one and unique, and that is the nature of the next deeper standing that is seen in the Tajalliyat, or unfolding, of His Manifestation in Hs attributes. He is too exalted to either exist like things, or have being like illusions. Some forms of Buddhism like DzogChen and Hua Yen, or Tien Tai approach the indication of this deeper nondual state which is the fourth turning of the Wheel of Dharma. But I think it is only in Sufism that it is made explicit. A good place to see this indication is in the Precious Pearl of Jami where he talks about the differences between the Philosophers, Theologians and Sufis in their interpretation of God. However, the way it is stated in Jami is very subtle because he did not want to get himself into too much trouble by saying God does not exist.Permission Given by Publisher http://www.sunypress.edu/p-1622-the-precious-pearl.aspx
The basic argument here is that you cannot confirm of God anything that has any contingency what so ever if God is Absolute, and both Being and Existence have contingency so the standing that God has different from illusion of projections of being or existing things must be something different, and that something different is indicated by the interspace or gap between the two types of existence that are in the Egyptian language but are each taken up singularly in either Arabic or Hebrew. This duality between the types of existence that creates a discontinuity (between inward and outward) or gap is indicated by xpr which is the term for created existence that is kept moving by God. And the dual of this created existence xpr is the difference between the nondual interpretations of Being as emptiness and void. So you can get to created existence by realizing that Existence is ultimately split or dual, or by the difference in the two nondual interpretations which allows you to look beyond creation to the creator which does not have existence or being, but manifests His Sifat as a completely independent standing.
So there is an existential structure here, that has always existed, but no one every bothered to compare the different kinds of existence in the different languages before including me. The only chink in the argument is the transformation of the flux of wnn into WJD. We say that what we find is the flux of existence. But WJD also has the meaning of ecstasy which was taken over into the Latin. Heidegger seizes on this meaning to say that is the projection of the a priori synthetic manifolds that we then intuit. Thus the wnn is the flux of Heraclitus or the Buddhists but the WJD gives us a perspective on it which is phenomenological, it is what We find that is always already there. So there are three moments to this, one is the ecstasy of projection of apriori synthetic manifolds, the other is the intuiting of them and thus finding them, and the third is the flux itself as something objective. All this is merged together in the WJD, while the original Egyptian root has no perspective in it but only talks about the flowing. So in a sense WJD adds the kind of structure we see in Kant and Heidegger which idealizes and subjectives existence. So WJD adds more structure to the Egyptian root while HYH sticks with the given structure in Egyptian root.
However, what is fascinating is how there is a split between iw and wnn which is perhaps comes to structure the difference between HYH and WJD, but which shows that existence was split orginally, and this split is isomorphic in the Egyptian to the interpretations of Existence as emptiness (iw) and void (wnn). xpr fills the gap by creation, and manifestation as the deeper nondual, or the nondual nondual fills it with nonduality. That standing for God is beyond existence but neither Transcendent nor Immanent. Rather God manifests his Sifat in this nondual stage before the creation of existence. It is neither in-time no out-of-time. All the transcendental and immanent projections of these attributes of God refer to our seeing God in relation to the world that has the structure of Heaven/Earth//Mortal/Immortal (i.e. God). When we project God as the Supreme Being or the Inherent Necessity we are merely introducing a contingency (ourselves) which cannot be associated with the absolute. God as absolute can neither Be nor Exist, but manifests via Tajalliat or unfolding and we come to experience and know that as an epiphany.
“Phenomenal being is utter and total darkness.
It is only the manifestation of the Real in it that gives it light.” Ibn Atallah
“Phenomenal being is what is formed by power and manifested to eye-witnessing. Darkness is the opposite of light and is not in existence. The light of existence is illuminated i.e. becomes light, and the manifestation of the Real is His tajalli.” Ibn ‘Ajiba
WAKENING ASPIRATION (Iqâdh Al-Himam): COMMENTARY ON THE HIKAM of IIbn Atallah by Ibn ‘Ajiba See http://bewley.virtualave.net/hikcom1.html
Note: This argument self destructs because it posits that what is a standing at a meta-level (six) is also a higher logical type which is a paradox even perhaps an absurdity. This is because the intellect cannot reach to this level of nonduality because any level of nonduality is aconceputal and aexperiential, but the deeper you go into nonduality the more opaque to the mind yet transparent to the heart it becomes.
For more background information see appendix at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1DCBsH5nzWjukfCvqiTVZ1uiGtoXDbAOZhDHH7OxlZmc/edit?hl=en_US This includes the letters seeking permission to use these book covers here.