I write this little post, not as an attack against the post written by Jon in his own blog, but as something inspired by it. I was actually surprised to hear that atheists are timid of expounding their beliefs. I feel the same way about my Christianity, but then, I run in mostly atheist circles. It actually took a lot of courage for me to post this, so don’t think that I’m coming down on other beliefs. I was just inspired by Jon’s courage and wanted to try and do the same for my own sake. My only intent is to challenge myself to present my views clearly, and to challenge friends, including Jon, to continue thinking about their own views and the views of others.
I agreed with almost all of Jon’s points in that they are valid, however, I don’t reach the same conclusions as he does. I’ll try to address them by point here:
1. Lots of Gods. Though not stated directly, it was implied that because there are a large number of gods to choose from that that somehow suggests that none of them are true. I don’t think that Jon meant to say this, but as I read his post it did seem to be accidentally implied. This type of argument if it were made, and I have heard it other places, would be a sort of middle ground fallacy and doesn’t really hold water.
2. Tradition and scores of believers do not make something true. I totally agree with this sentiment. It is not a good reason for believing in God. It might be good reason to consider believing in God, since so many people agree on the existence of some sort of god or gods, but it does not make for good evidence.
Ironically, this majority rule is the precise mechanism by which the scientific community accepts and rejects theories. Evidence is always dependent upon interpretation and even in science the most commonly accepted interpretation is generally considered to be ‘true’.
3. The Bible is inconsistent and flawed. I find this argument to be debatable, but I don’t think such a debate would really further us. Instead I would contend that, whether or not it is flawed, one should really look at the possibility of the book being ‘inspired’ based on its rather unique history and content.
4. The last points made by Jon argue that miracles and testimonies are not empirically provable and subjective. Thus, they do not make good evidence for the existence of God. I would agree with this and encourage anyone who stands on such a faith to dig much deeper.
As I have written it we are still left with no reasons to believe in God. We do, however, have a couple of reasons to investigate the possibility of his existence. From here I would like to make a few more points that give further reason to investigate:
1. The universe is amazing. Beauty is an abstract concept that could be considered an evolved aspect of the human mind. The beauty of the universe goes far beyond that however; it encompasses a magnificence that stretches from the cosmic to the quantum, and beyond. It is not merely aesthetic, but also mathematical. The dynamics of physics can be described in equations that will astound you by their symmetry and elegance. To look at the universe through science and see only a cold dead machine takes a mind that is already extremely biased against the proposition of God, in my opinion.
2. Humans are misfits in the natural machine. I think Agent Smith said it best when he said “Humans are a virus.” We do not follow the natural laws of balance and are quickly outpacing our resources. In addition we are the only creature known to exhibit compassion to such a level that we can nearly block the effects of evolution on our species. There is certainly something peculiar about the human species. Does this point to God? Not directly, but a divergence from the natural order of the sort that we represent does suggest that there may be something beyond that natural order that effected us so.
3. Explanatory power. There will never be enough evidence to prove or disprove the existence of God. As such other criteria must be employed. I find the belief in God to have explanatory power in the universe, and in my personal life. Yes, science has done and will continue to explain many of the mysteries of the universe. But science can only tell us what happens, it cannot broach the subjective ‘why’ of the universe. Without a why we go the way of Nietzsche into meaninglessness and despair. Within the heart of all men is the hope for purpose and meaning in the universe, some envision the culmination of the evolution of the universe and a sort of transcendence, while others place their hope on the supernatural. Having investigated the tenants of Christianity I find that it has the power to explain the ‘whys’ of humanity more sufficiently and beautifully than any other belief system.
I was going to go into a discourse on the underdetermination of theory by evidence, and how that really handicaps any use of evidence or a lack thereof. But I think that that would be more distracting from the point I would like to make.
In essence, I see the universe as a transcendently beautiful machine and humanity as a peculiar anomaly, both of which demand some sort of explanation or ‘why’. Naturalism, by definition, limits itself to explaining things in terms of natural interactions. As such it is not really capable of answering such existential questions. Defining what makes a painting beautiful or peculiar tells you nothing of the meaning behind it or the purpose behind the artist. Studying a car will lead you to the conclusion that it takes people places, but on its own it cannot tell you why it would do so who would need it.
I am left with the conclusion that naturalism will not answer my questions. The answers are to be found either in the tenants of some other belief system, or are not there at all, as I’m sure Nietzsche would contend.
Each must make their own search for the answers to their questions, but remember this:
You will find whatever kind of god you look for, even a non-god. But the God of the Universe will find you, if you let Him.
Those are my thoughts, not complete or waterproof as presented, but a good effort I hope
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