God and Human Happiness

Happiness may be one term which is multifariously defined but it is also one which is most neglected. Humans have defined happiness according to their own personal circumstances, philosophical beliefs or religious convictions. The challenge therefore is to find a most fitting, objective definition for the term without drastically affecting its emotional essence. We find this definition in the words of Aquinas. According to this 13th century philosopher and theologian happiness is the satisfaction we hope to find when we reach our final goal and attain the perfection we have longed for (Wang). Happiness is therefore a feeling of satisfaction, regardless of whether what this satisfaction entails, and it is attained when we reach our final goal, regardless of whosoever favor this goal is directed towards. This is a (but not necessarily the) most objective and amoral definition of happiness and it is from this that we will build our thesis that such happiness does not necessitate God.

Happiness is further defined by Aquinas as the ultimate human end (Aquinas 4), and direct human observation points to this very fact. First, humans generally seek happiness, or the satisfaction that is longed for when one fulfills a goal, when making their choices whatever the end result is and second, the main motive behind human quests for achievement and pleasure is also happiness. Everything we see around us, from our relationships to our efforts in giving to charity, has its roots from our innate desire for human happiness or fulfillment, based on the definition of Aquinas. Aquinas (4) further states that there cannot be happiness without accompanying pleasure, which means that pleasure is a necessary component for happiness.

God, being too abstract a concept, cannot be objectively defined. Nevertheless, the idea of God is always associated with Love and Goodness (Deffinbaugh). The Bible serves as the document that can give a most valid definition of God. Psalms 1071 (New International Version) states that God is good and his loving kindness is everlasting. Psalms 521 further says that Gods goodness endures continually.

Based on the aforementioned definitions, one can see the incongruence between the concept of human happiness and that of God.

First, the satisfaction of human goals that are considered evil implies that God is not necessary for human happiness. The concept of human happiness is based on the idea of satisfaction of a goal (see Introduction). This goal is a broad term and may include both good and evil goals, based on the context of Biblical norms for morality. For example, Hitlers goal was the development of a pure Aryan race and may from its mere choice of words sound harmless and beneficial. However, history showed us that this goal was fulfilled through mass murders only for the satisfaction of the Fuhrer himself. Hitlers happiness therefore, as well as the happiness of all humans who seek the satisfaction of their evil desires, whether directed against others or the self, is after all a form of human happiness itself but one that does not necessitate God on whom only goodness is attributed (see God).

Second, empirical evidence points out that humans who have but a faint notion of God can nevertheless still be happy. This makes Gods role unnecessary in bringing about human happiness. Based on empirical evidence, human desire for satisfaction appears to be a universal idea even in suicide victims who fulfill their own desire to end their lives to escape conflicts and therefore become satisfied. Human efforts seem to be directed towards success, be it big or small success, and never towards failure. However, God may not be a necessary component of such human efforts that are directed towards human happiness. A 6-year-old boy who plays computer games may have but a very vague notion of God or His goodness but is definitely aware of what it means to be happy and knows that if he is able to vanquish all his enemies at one level of the game, he will experience such tremendous satisfaction and happiness.

God is not necessary for human happiness because of two reasons. First of all, human happiness is all about the satisfaction of human desires which may either be good or evil. The mere fact that evil goals are allowed fulfillment and that happiness can be derived from it undermines Gods role in bringing about human happiness. Secondly, humans can still be happy even without knowledge of God or His role or even without a religion of his own. These two arguments however do not in any way assume Gods non-existence. Personally, I believe that God exists but perhaps he chooses not to interfere with the human free will to produce happiness. The argument that God is not necessary for human happiness therefore speaks of Gods generosity in allowing humans to exercise their free will upon whatever brings them happiness.


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