In your essay in Louise Antony’s collection “Philosophers Without Gods,” you say, “Much as I try, much as I may want to, I cannot be a believer.” Why can’t you — and why would you want to?
D.G.: I can’t believe because I’m not convinced that it is true that God exists. It is as simple as that. Belief is not voluntary, and there are no (rational) considerations that move me to believe that God exists. In all honesty, I will admit that I don’t have a definitive argument that God doesn’t exist either. Which is to say that I refuse to make the judgment that some make that it is positively irrational to believe in God in an objective sense. But without convincing affirmative reasons to believe, I’m stuck. If others find reasons that convince them, I’m willing to discuss them and consider them. Who knows? There might be a convincing argument out there, or at least one that convinces me.
On the other hand, it is easy say why I might want to believe. I see people around me — often very smart and thoughtful people — who get great comfort from believing that God exists. Why wouldn’t I want to be like them? It’s just that I can’t.
Daniel Garber, a professor of philosophy at Princeton, specializing in philosophy and science in the period of Galileo and Newton, speaking with the NYTimes.