“I want pigs to be able to fly.”
Two good examples brought up in class.
Their point to me: just because I really want a God to exist doesn’t mean that he actually exists. Freud’s point: religion is just wish-fulfillment.
My point to them: we are the only creatures who can wish for things that we know we can never get. The reading we had done was from Fr. Norris Clarke, SJ about the human yearning for an Infinite Being. They wanted to know: who really yearns for an Infinite Being except philosophers in their studies? This proof only works for really smart people.
On the contrary, everyone wishes for what we can’t have. We all wish for perfect happiness, but none of us will ever have it. We all wish for world peace, but we will never have it. Kids want the perfect toy, but they will never get it.
So this demonstration has less to do with what is wished and more to do with the nature of the wishing. Human beings are the only creature in nature who can wish for something they know they cannot ever have. Isn’t that strange? Suddenly in the evolutive process we get a huge anomaly in the nature of Desire. The desires of all other animals are for things they can get. That is the nature of desire: to want something for the sake of a fulfillment that is good for the creature. But we want things that we can never fulfill. And so we also have despair and suicide. Strange.
Even the desire for a flying elephant is a “proof” for God in its own way. It tells us something about humans that make us unique to every other creature in this world. Does there have to be a fulfillment? No. The wish doesn’t prove anything. But the fact that it is a wish doesn’t make it wish-fulfillment either. God can still exist even if I wish him to exist. And as Kung puts it well:
Why in fact should I note be permitted to wish? Why should I not be allowed to wish that the sweat, blood, and tears, all the suffering of millennia, may not have been in vain, that definitive happiness may finally be possible for all men — especially the despised and downtrodden? And why should I not on the other hand feel an aversion to being required to be satisfied with rare moments of happiness and — for the rest — to come to terms with “normal unhappiness?” May I not too feel aversion to the idea that the life of the individual and of mankind is ruled only by pitiless laws of nature, by the play of chance and by the survival of the fittest, and that all dying is a dying into nothingness?
It does not follow from man’s profound desire for God and eternal life that God exists and eternal life and happiness are real. But those atheists who think that what follows is the nonexistence of God and the un-reality of eternal life are mistaken too.
I hope that pigs fly in heaven.