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Thursday, September 01, 2005
 
ON GOD/NO GOD ARGUMENTS

I haven’t heard a great deal of discussion about the role of "God" in the Katrina disaster, though I’m sure it’s out there. The usual questions. How could a loving God allow such a thing to happen etc. Just dig out the comments that were made after the December, 2004 Tsunami and recycle them and it’ll probably reflect what is being said about the current disaster, though for the moment it’s probably being drowned out by more practical talk - such as how to save those victims of the hurricane who are still alive - and where the hell is all the help that was supposed to be on the way?

But the religious reflections and arguments will come - and they will come at a time when the arguments about creationism and "intelligent design" and evolution are at a high pitch level in this country.

I don’t know whether or not this sneaky idea of "intelligent design" will ever be taught in our public schools, but it wouldn’t surprise me, considering that more than a quarter of us are evangelical Christians, and many strict creationists. This according to the 2004 National Survey of Religion and Politics released by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. And of course considering that our President advocates teaching Creationism, which is why I call "intelligent design" sneaky. If one wants to maintain that there is such a thing as "intelligent design, it has to include a "designer" - and we’re back to everything being "created" - which of course is the creationist belief.

It’s really an insult to the intelligence to maintain that you’re not advocating the teaching of religious belief in the classroom just because you don’t come right out and say that "God" is the "intelligent designer." But I wouldn’t be insulted if they’d come right out and say it. I would have no objection to any form of religious belief being discussed in the public schools - as long as it is done in a social studies class. Where I part company with the believers is when they want creationism or intelligent design or any other euphemism for the existence of a God taught in a science class so that it can be considered as a possible alternative to evolution - because as we all know, evolution is only a theory.

Lately, the argument has been raging in letters that people are writing to newspapers. One in particular caught my eye the other day - a response from a strict believer to questions posed by - presumably - a non believer, primarily the question of, if God exists where did he come from?

It’s an interesting question because to be fair to both sides, you have to consider the possibility that it can’t that easily be discussed using ordinary terms of reference. Here are selected quotes from both letters, - easier reproduced here than via a link to each (long) letter - so that the pro and con ideas can be looked at side by side and I can comment on them.

From A.J. Warland - the non-believer:
I was baptized a Catholic. One day at 10 years old, I asked my mother, "Why are there no dinosaurs mentioned in the Bible?"

She did not have an answer. I knew something was terribly wrong.

I decided then and there that the Bible was probably written by some old guys sitting around a campfire trying to come up with good stories like one finds in Aesop's fables or other fairy tales as a means to relate the rights and wrongs of behavior to the masses.

(Such are the thoughts of a 10-year-old.)
And the main question this writer asks.
I do have an important question for creationists: If God supposedly created everything, then who created God?

They have no answer because it lacks logic.

Case closed.

(Unless, of course, they change their minds and decide that God is really an E.T. . . . but that's a whole other debate.)
And here’s selected comments from the response of Joseph G. Le Sanche - a believer.
I feel I must respond to this letter to clarify what one creationist believes.

Warland believes we of faith neither have an answer to God's creation, nor are we logical. People of faith do have an answer, and to us the answer is logical, because we house the most crucial element to this debate.

We have faith.

Faith is logical only if you possess it. Not to possess it negates you from the debate as you are missing a key element of the argument crucial to his existence, as scientific argument only provides for the "con" aspect of this debate.

Who created God? I can say without doubt that he always was.
And of course, the current approach to blunting the evolution argument. Agree that there is such a thing but so what?
I do not discount the theory of evolution; it is not, however, a black-and-white science, and there are a great many holes in the theory, as many evolutionary scientists will attest.

I certainly don't have the answers, but I would like to pose a couple of questions to Warland: Science appears to stop in its research back to the "Big Bang theory." What happened 10 minutes prior to the massive explosion of this sub-atomic particle? Who created the particle? Who created the massive amount of space home to the particle?

The scientists don't know.

Warland doesn't know.

But I do.
I just wish he’d written a couple more words and told us what it is that he knows!!

But seriously, this is not an argument that can be settled with black and white observations. The non believer says that a God who has always existed defies logic. Maybe so, but maybe we don’t have the frame of reference to discuss such a concept logically. We can’t conceive of an entity that had no beginning. I know I can’t. There’s no way to discuss the how and why of such an entity. But by the same token, can a virus that has life of some sort conceive of the human that is its host? Of course you can’t compare a human to a virus. We have the ability to think and to reason. We have the power of observation. But if what we are trying to observe is as far beyond conception to us as we are to a virus, we come to a roadblock before we start out on our journey of discovery. Maybe we just don’t have the proper terms of reference to deal with what we want to think about. Maybe it’s like trying to look at our three dimensional world from a five dimensional point of view. How do you do that?

So I have to conclude that you can’t necessarily prove the non-existence of a God simply because it defies logic. If the believers advanced that sort of argument, I would have to concede that they have a point worth considering and that could make for some fun discussion.

On the other hand, I have to come down more on the side of the logicians than on the believer who says faith is only logical if you possess it and if you don’t possess it, you can’t be part of the pro and con argument because you can only argue the con side!!! If ever there was a more exquisite piece of illogic, I don’t know what it could possibly be.

I guess it makes life easier if you can dispense with any form of chicken and egg consideration and just be content to assume that there’s always been a Jim Purdue and that that’s all you need to know.

But then those PETA activists might come knocking at your door, so there’s no escape from the argument for either side - and it’ll probably go on forever.

I’ll come back to this topic very soon. I’ve been away from it too long.