Reviews | Dear God, even if you don’t exist

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Franck Sabatte
New York
The author is a Roman Catholic priest.

For the editor:

When Rex, the son of Scott Hershovitz, claims that a “claims God is real”, he is not telling the truth or the wisdom. It’s about a child’s wish that we could do something real just by believing in it. While this may provide comfort to some, that comfort comes at a steep price.

Throughout history, widely held fictions have been responsible for massive human suffering. Consider our countless religious wars, our countless race wars, and the empty promises of politicians who pander to the dark side of our nature. Rejecting easy fictions can be uncomfortable and force us to look lucidly at human suffering, but it’s much better than the alternative.

Richard Winchel
St. Charles, Illinois.

For the editor:

Scott Hershovitz tells the story of his son questioning the existence of God, then offers a theology in which we know God is not real, but we “pretend” otherwise. This fictionalism suggests that God lives in a fantasy world like Harry Potter at Hogwarts.

This can work if you want your religion to be “impenetrable,” as Mr. Hershovitz does. I prefer my intelligible religion. There is another option besides a supernatural omnipotent “Being” and a fictional character. Instead, we can invite God into the children’s real world: allow them to imagine the Divine as electricity running through the wires but only visible when we flip the switch. In other words, whether God is real depends on us.

My grandson told me right before his bar mitzvah that he wasn’t sure if he believed in God. I asked him if he could think of a metaphor for God that made sense to him. He said, “God is like the ocean and I am the wave.” It is the religious imagination that can be cultivated. It’s not magic, but it is magic.

Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
Carmel, Ind.
The writer is a rabbi and author of children’s books on religion and spirituality.

For the editor:

It took me longer to discover a truth about God than it took Scott Hershovitz’s then 4-year-old son. Around the age of 75, it occurred to me that if God exists in the mind of a believer, then He exists. If God doesn’t exist in the mind of an unbeliever, then He doesn’t. Question of ages solved, and we can stop worrying about it.

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