|Does God Exist?|
"There are more things in heaven
and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
Is God willing to prevent evil, but
not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
Men create the gods in their own image...if
were able to imagine gods, then those gods would be in the image of oxen.
Did God Create Man or Did the Belief
in God Evolve?
Karl Ericson 7/17/03
If you talk to God, you're praying.
If God talks back, it's schizophrenia.
Phil Spector Esquire 9/1999
Science has proof without any certainty. Creationists have certainty without any proof.
Arguments I have heard for the existence of God include that life would be too frightening and depressing if there was no God. There would be no purpose to life without God. There would be no reason to be moral without God. Most of us would like to believe that our life has purpose, most of us would like a moral world and most of us would like to believe that our loved ones will be in heaven after they die so these are all reasons why people want to believe in God. They are however not evidence for the existence of God. Also the arguments that there would be no purpose to life without God and that there is no reason to be moral without God are assumptions without evidence. There are many secular people who believe strongly in leading a moral life and who do. Many of these people find purpose in helping others and their families. Many of them enjoy life even without believing in an afterlife.
Arthur C. Clarke, an inventor and coauthor with Stanley Kubrick of 2001 a Space Odyssey, said in an interview with Free Inquiry Magazine (Vol 19 No.2):
One of the great tragedies of mankind is that morality has been hijacked by religion. So now people assume that religion and morality have a necessary connection. But the basis of morality is really very simple and doesn't require religion at all. It's this: "Don't do unto anybody else what you wouldn't like to be done to you." It seems to me that that's all there is to it.
I once got the foolish notion to try and convince a Muslim woman that her religion was wrong. I didn't argue with her about the existence of God, instead I said that a good God would just care if you were good or bad, and not whether you believe in him (or her) or not. Any religion that portrays God as saying the non-believer as evil was therefore not the truth. She said that according to my logic it doesn't matter if you believe in God or not. I said yes. I asked her to tell me why she believed in God. She said her soul feeds off of God. I said do you mean that you have a positive relationship with God and she said yes. She said that God would let us know what is the right religion and that he let her know that Islam was the right religion. She argued that I may not understand why the Koran says what it says but if God says it, it must be true. The logic here boils down to, I believe in God because it makes me feel good to do so. God would let me know if Islam is the wrong religion and since he hasn't it is the right religion. If we don't like what it says it just means we don't understand it since it has to be true since it is God's word.
There have been many efforts to prove God's existence all of them with either unfounded assumptions or flaws in logic. It is probably impossible to prove or disprove the existence of God. The best one can do is give reasons to believe or not believe.
One of the arguments used against evolution alone as having led to our creation is the argument that living creatures are much to complex to have arisen by accident. It may be impossible to comprehend how such a thing could happen but it is even more impossible to comprehend the billions of years and untold number of planets in the Universe where biochemical accidents were occurring. If a creator created us that creator would be even more complex than we are and even more difficult to comprehend.
A more convincing argument that other factors were at work in our creation is the existence of consciousness. Science so far has not been able to explain consciousness. Science can explain how a computer works, it can explain the neural networks of the brain to some extent but it has not been able to explain how those neural nets collectively are aware.
Science so far has not been to explain emotions. Electrical stimulation of certain parts of the brain of animals has been shown to stimulate certain emotions but there is no explanation of where that emotion comes from. We are very familiar with the dimensions of matter but we have very little understanding of the dimension of awareness and emotion.
Since consciousness is part of living things it is likely that consciousness in some way was involved with the creation of living things in addition to evolution. This does not mean there was a conscious being who created us, there may be a tendency toward consciousness just as there is a tendency for systems to increase their free energy in thermodynamics. It is possible that a conscious being was involved in our creation but that still leaves the mystery of the creation of that conscious being and how such a being would have the power to affect our creation over billions of years.
Although evolution by itself is not able to explain our existence it may be sufficient to explain the development of religious beliefs. Religious beliefs may have evolved. This is discussed on the Religon as an Evolving Organism web page.
Another mystery associated with the mystery of consciousness is the mystery of will. Somehow our consciousness can will neurotransmitters to be released which cause currents to travel down nerves and stimulate muscles to contract so that are limbs move which in turn can move and create objects. If it is our will we can create new things. Consciousness is thus capable of creating material objects. This lends credence to the hypothesis that consciousness was involved in our creation.
In addition to the mystery of consciousness, stories about remarkable coincidences, near death experiences in which the dying person sees the whole scene from above or stories of premonitions of disaster which came true, make me wonder how much more there is in heaven and earth than we know about.
The problems with the belief in God were discussed by Khawaja a Muslim who left Islam in a book called Leaving Islam which contains testimonies collected by Ibn Warraq. I include some of Khawaja's essay below:
For one thing, it quickly became clear to me that God's attributes make no sense. Consider omnipotence. If God is omnipotent, he's capable of doing anything. But that proposition leads to obvious paradoxes - as cliched as they are unanswerable. Can he make a rock that even he can't lift? Can he create something out of nothing? Can he make water freeze at its boiling point? Can he make water molecules from a ratio of eighty five hydrogen ions to thirteen hydroxide ions? Can he repeal the Law of Non-contradiction? To answer "yes" to any of these question is to utter what is senseless. To answer "no" is to concede that the structure of the world puts limits on God's power. In neither case is omnipotence possible.
Nor does omniscience fare much better. If God is omniscient, he can foretell the future. But if he can foretell the future, the future must exist in a determinate way. If so, the future is already written, and we lack free will. But if we lack free will, we lack responsibility, and God contradicts himself when he holds us morally responsible for our actions by judging, rewarding, and punishing us. Since an omniscient being cannot be guilty of self-contradiction this option seems impossible. On the other hand, if we have free will, God can't predict the future with certainty. Lacking a certain knowledge of the future it follows that he lacks omniscience. Whether we have free will or not, then omniscience fails.
Omnibenevolence fails even more miserably than the other two attributes. If God created the world, he is ultimately responsible for everything in it. Being omnibenevolent, he must be just, and being just, he must order the world so as to conform to his own (Islamic) principle of justice - that every atom's weight of good is rewarded, and every atom's weight of evil is punished. And yet it is obvious that good goes unrewarded, and evil goes unpunished throughout history and throughout the world, thereby flagrantly contravening God's own principles in front of his face, indeed with his apparent sanction and, indirectly, by his own actions. Lacking any excuses of ignorance or incapacity, God merely watches mutely as justice is trampled and both injustice and misfortune take their toll. Since no agent of goodness can be indifferent to injustice and misfortune for which he is ultimately responsible, God cannot be omnibenevolent. In fact, He seems quite the reverse...
I had also believed in God because I was painfully aware of the fact that in this world, vice was too often rewarded, and virtue too often unrewarded. So I held out hope for another world in which the moral balances would finally be evened out. As the Koran says of the hereafter, "Whoever does an atom's weight of good shall see it, and whoever does an atom's weight of evil shall see it" (XCIX.7-8). It seemed inconceivable to me that the relationship between virtue and reward, and vice and punishment, could somehow rest on on mere chance. And so, I reasoned there must be a God to make everything work out in the end.
This was the most damaging and lasting falsehood I acquired from Islam. For one thing, the argument encourages passivity and resignation to misfortune and injustice on the grounds that "God will make everything work out." Worse still, the argument subordinates reason to hope in an insidious way, giving one a moral stake in the idea that fervent and (moralistic) wishes can override reality. Above all, it demotes the value of the world we actually live in, exaggerating the role of chance, depreciating the role of choice, and then maintaining the pretense that all chance contingencies can somehow be abolished in another, superior, chanceless realm. This was the hardest set of falsehoods to leave behind; its rejection brought the hardest set of truths to accept.
The falsehood of the view was most fully driven home to me while visiting Ground Zero a few months after the September 11 attacks. It was not until I saw the twisted remnants of the towers that I fully realized that nothing could compensate for the injustice and horror of what was lost that day - not even an identical and eternal replica of the World Trade center in another realm and the resurrection of all the souls lost in it. Even if God were to create a replica of the place and bring all of its victims back to life, the brutal fact remains that the real World Trade center was not a replica of anything, but a specific place in space and time, and loved precisely for its specificity. More to the point, the people who died there were specific individuals who were destroyed in a particularly awful and painful way. Nothing can ever undo the rupture in moral reality caused by their deaths; Nothing in the future can undo their suffering, or erase the evil that came into the world with the act. The only way to "replace" the buildings or "compensate" for the personal loss would be to undo what happened at 8:46 A. M. on September 11, 2001, so that the event never took place at all. And not even God in all of his supposed power claims that ability; possessing it would be an absurdity of its own.
In this light, I have been depressed not only by the Muslim reaction to September 11, but by the intellectually feeble reactions to it of Christians and Jews, who have managed to fabricate a plethora of excuses for God despite his obvious absence that day at the crucial hour. Where, I feel like asking such people, was God on the morning of September 11? Did he not know what was on Muhammad Atta's mind? Were the airplanes too fast for him to intercept? Was his radar not on? Was he not nimble enough to catch the people jumping out of windows? Couldn't so "compassionate and merciful" a deity at least have given the firefighters some advance warning that the towers were going to collapse - or did even the good Lord have trouble that day with his Verizon Wireless service?
c o p y r i g h t ( c ) 1 9 9 9 - 2004 Karl Ericson Enterprises. All rights reserved
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