Preface: This text was originally published on my danish Facebook author page as two individual texts with the joint title ‘Is man immortal and does God exist?’ (1 & 2). They are still available there. Below, they are published as a compilation, under a different title and slightly edited, and including an epilogue, which is not available on Facebook.
If ideas and concepts are eternal (Plato) and they do not go through a process of coming to be (Aristotle, Metaphysics), and if ideas and concepts exist in thought, then thought must also be eternal.
Or is it possible to think eternal ideas and concepts in a perishable thought? This would be absurd, since, in that case, the thought would have to die and with it the ideas; but the ideas are, according to the assumption, eternal, and therefore cannot die.
Consequently, if the ideas are eternal, so is the thought.
All life expressing thought must, therefore, be eternal. Thus, since man has thoughts, or a thought, man and his life must be eternal.
Also: Man has not created himself and his eternal thought. To claim the opposite is meaningless: If we claim that we have created our eternal thought ourselves, we should be able to accurately account for such creation and the innermost nature of thought. But no one can.
If, then, man holds the eternal thought, and has not created it himself, it must have been created by another immortal personality who knows the thought comprehensively: God.
Or can we think an eternal thought created by a perishable nature? That would be absurd, since a perishable nature must die, and with it the thought. But we have just decided that the thought is eternal and cannot die.
Therefore, based on the assumption of the eternity of ideas, I think it reasonable to assert the immortality of thought and the human spirit, and the existence of God. This seems to be the necessary consequence .
Is the basic assumption about the eternity of ideas reasonable?
If, contrary to the eternity of ideas, we assume their impermanence and that they are not eternal, then they must also have undergone a process of creation, since, in that case, they cannot come from eternity.
But if they are created without being eternal, they must have been created by a perishable nature. The contrary – claiming that perishable ideas are created by an eternal nature – seems absurd.
Therefore, there are two options: 1) The ideas are eternal and, hence, man is immortal and God exists, or 2) ideas are perishable and have been created by a perishable nature, which means man and his thought are also perishable.
The crux of the matter, then, is whether ideas are eternal or perishable.
If ideas are perishable, they must have been created. But if they have been created, they must have been so based on other ideas. The ideas must have been created for a reason. Ideas cannot be created from nothing, or from a perishable nature, or create themselves for no reason.
But since this underlying idea is itself an idea, ideas cannot be created. If the underlying idea behind the ideas itself had been created, it must, in turn, have been created by another uncreated idea, and so on.
Either way, we, therefore, necessarily end up with an uncreated and eternal idea, or ideas, which necessarily imply the immortality of man and the existence of God.
The weakest point in this line of thought is the thought that ideas cannot be created from nothing, from a perishable nature (as some may argue they can), or from itself without an idea.
I’ll try to deal with this point in the following:
First, let’s take exception to the very premise of the thought:
Which is that ideas emerge and perish. Perhaps this thought in itself is wrong. What if we claim that nature itself is ideas, for example nature’s idea, and that these ideas themselves are eternal if nature is eternal? (By ‘nature’ I mean the known, physical universe). That is; that ideas do not emerge and perish, but are eternal?
Would this solve the problem and be independent of whether we, like Plato, assume the transcendent ontological status of ideas, or, like Aristotle, assume their immanent status; that is, whether, for example, nature’s idea is separate from or contained in the nature we can see and sense?
Another question pertaining to nature and the ontological status of its idea, is whether our idea of nature is based on an existing, underlying nature, or if nature exists based on an underlying idea of nature? That is, which of the two, nature or the idea of nature, is logically and phenomenologically primary or ‘first’.
For now, I think the crux of the matter is whether nature, the known physical universe, is eternal or perishable, and whether it makes sense to claim that nature is ideas; for example, nature’s idea in general, and in particular: The idea of the giraffe, the idea of the stars, the idea of man, the idea of stones, etc. (the particular ideas for instance represented by matter and genes?)
But in reality, the problem disappears if we accept the eternity of ideas (see part I):
If ideas are eternal, then the world, ‘nature’, must also be eternal, since it makes no sense to claim that ideas are eternal, but the world perishable, since ideas exist in the world, in thought, which must be assumed to be in the world, part of the world, since it exists as a fact (cf. Descartes’ thought-existence equivalence: je pense, donc je suis; cogito ergo sum; I think, therefore I am).
Therefore, if the world were perishable, ideas would have to die (with the world), they would have to be perishable, which we have argued against.
This whole line of thought is also a philosophical argument against the world coming into existence at a certain point in time (for example in the big bang), and that it must at some point cease to exist (be perishable), and, thus, it is an argument for the immortality of man and the existence of God.
In addition, this argument may at a later stage make it easier to solve the mystery, which in Toward the Light is referred to as the riddle of eternity and the mystery of the uncreated.
The only thing missing in this regard is a final determination of the ontological status of ideas and, with them, thought, in relation to the world (by which I mean the universe; that is, also the transcendental world); whether ideas and thought are ontologically, logically and phenomenologically primary in relation to the world.
If they are, as we understand they are from the introductory words of Toward the Light (see ‘Ardor’s account’, which begins with words about the thought being the source of all that is; we just lack the argument), and if, at the same time, ideas are eternal, the being of the universe from eternity to eternity has been proven, as it has then been proven that the universe (in the beginning “the primal cosmos” ; see Toward the Light) cannot have been created or ‘come into existence’ (perhaps as a result of unknown natural laws or phenomena), but must necessarily have existed from eternity.
The only assumption I make as part of the argument is the existence of ideas. This assumption may itself be substantiated, which is done by a movement parallel to Descartes’ thoughts mentioned above (his methodical doubt resulting in the thought-existence equivalence):
Ideas must inevitably exist. If we claim that they do not exist, even this is an idea. Therefore, ideas must inevitably exist.
These thoughts may perhaps be incorporated into modern spirituality’s idea of everything as energy (and consciousness) – light and darkness, good and evil – and into more recent physics’ idea of mass energy equivalence (Einstein), in terms of adding ideas to mass and energy and consciousness as the basic nature and components of the world.
If my argument concerning God and immortality is valid and convincing as it is thought and articulated here, and if the thoughts I have previously articulated concerning freedom and its essence; freedom as the absence of evil (since evil, darkness, according to Toward the Light, is a primordial force that can bind thought and will, meaning they are not free); are also correct, then I have accomplished the task which Immanuel Kant set out to do in drafting his Critique of pure reason, namely, to provide a true account of God, freedom and immortality (in the case of Kant, in the context of a scientific account of cognition, its conditions, scope and limits); a task he did not accomplish in my opinion.
But whether my argument holds good will be decided only by posterity and my own further reflection.