Sunday, September 03, 2006

God as Nothing

How sad to hear of the death of D. Z. Phillips. I'm not sure how I first came to know of him. It might have been through a series of talks he gave on Radio Four based on essays that were later published as 'From Fantasy to Faith'. Over many years I have found his account of religious belief a model of philosophy. As a follower of Wittgenstein he investigates religious belief, leaving everything as it is. In a world where popular religion can so easily be dismissed by thoughtful people, and fanatical religion by decent people, DZ was not a reformer. His work was not in making religion more modern, more relevant, more liberal, or more humane. It was rather in seeking a better understanding of religious reality itself. He reflected sensitively on the sense in which God is experienced as absent, indeed as Nothing. He taught that we cannot understand belief in God without understanding what it means to become nothing before him.
It may be possible as I go along here to unpack some of DZ's ideas that I have found most valuable. I'll try.

No comments: