This book written by author, William J. O'Malley asks the questions about God and the existence of God. O'Malley tries to show people why faith in a God is important and in this book he goes through atheism, science, and different world religions to make a case for the profound significance of God.
He debates the belief and unbelief of if there really is a God and why it matters to decide what a person believes. In the first chapter, O'Malley talks about human nature and the question of "Are we the only species cursed with a hunger for a food that doesn't exist?"
I think O'Malley is saying that there is something inside of us that seeks fulfillment He is asking if humans are the only species on Earth that has a need for something in their lives that they can not see, God. O'Malley had such a yearning and hunger for God, but it is not true that all people and all atheists also have this yearning for God. As a Christian, I can understand and appreciate O'Malley's views on this because there are times when I feel like I am missing something in my life spiritually. However, a friend of mine that calls himself an atheist does not have this particular hunger for God.
I have asked him if there are times in his life when he feels like there is no one around that can help him and if he feels as though the only one to turn to is God. He told me that no, he never feels that way. So, I think it is a general statement that O'Malley is making when he says that all people have this yearning or hunger for God. In the second chapter of this book, O'Malley debates a case for atheism stating that no one really knows that there is not a God.
According to O'Malley, true atheists have basically lost all hope and see the world as a grim reflection of their own lack of purpose. I would have to argue this point, even though I do believe there is a God and life is better knowing Him, but can anyone really say that without God people who claim to be atheists lack any hope, moral judgments or purpose in life? Everyone has the right to live their life the way they think is right and to believe in a God or not to believe there is a God. I do not think this makes a person not have moral judgments or a meaning in life.
O'Malley thinks that atheism a choice which is made because a person has a desire to avoid admitting that there is a God. In my opinion, I would have to argue this because I do not believe that atheists choose to be disbelieving that there is a God simply because they do not want to admit that a God may exist. I do not know why atheists do not believe there is a God, but I am not too sure if I agree with O'Malley's views on that. I have asked my friend who is an atheist to explain to me the reasons on why they do not believe there is a God.
That if God did not create man and the world, then who did? Did we just show up on earth? The answer this person gave me was that he just does not believe there is a God and that we all appeared on Earth through evolution and science. I asked him if he believed there was a Heaven or Hell, because if he believed in one of those places, he would have to believe that the other existed. He told me he did not believe in either. He did not tell me however, that he just did not want to admit there was a God.
I do agree with O'Malley that some atheists require absolute, scientific proof that there is a God before believing. In the third chapter, O'Malley takes another position and gets the readers to see different concepts of both sides of the believer and non-believer. The fourth and fifth chapters are where O'Malley gets into science and philosophy. O'Malley states that humans frequently decipher the mystery of God as either immanent or transcendent. In chapter six, O'Malley explains eastern religious traditions seem to deal well with religious uncertainty and inconsistency.
O'Malley argues a point that a person with an eastern mindset can not explain God into words, and that trying to do so is like trying to lasso the wind, which is impossible. In chapter seven, O'Malley explains his thesis: "The West sees revelation as truly interpersonal." He gives his insights of western religions such as: Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam in this chapter. In chapter eight and nine, O'Malley puts in place that the answer to God, the oldest question is possible.
O'Malley states that Christians can know the answer because Jesus Christ invites us to let Him redeem us from our resentment that God is God and we are not God. O'Malley quotes numerous verses from the New Testament and gives us the reasons for Jesus' technique that knowing God is simple.
Throughout this book, the author, O'Malley also goes into the question of what difference does faith make? As humans, is there anything reasonable about believing in what we can not actually see or physically touch? He also asks the question of why faith matters.
These are the types of questions that anyone who struggles with the importance of faith might ask. I believe everyone has asked themselves these questions, especially when there is a death or when something horrible happens to them. In this book O'Malley does not only collect the experience of others, he also shares the experiences from his own life and his struggles to know God. O'Malley tells his story of how he went through a critical crisis of faith he had experienced a year before he was supposed to be ordained a priest.
This book he has written tells of his arguments for and against God's existence and the concluding restoration of his faith in God. There are many views and points that I do agree with O'Malley, mainly because of my Christian faith I can relate to his opinions in his book. I think this was a very good book to read and I will recommend it to my friend and see what his views on the arguments and debates O'Malley has made about atheists.
God, the Oldest Question, O'Malley, S.J., William J., Chicago: Loyola Press, 2000.