Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Existence of God

More specifically, here's my personal view on the matter:

The positive assertion that there IS a God should be held up to scrutiny just as any other assertion would.

Example: If someone tells you the bench you're about to sit on is wet, you'll probably want to investigate for yourself to see if they're making up fairy tales (I mean you could just take them at their word, but for our purposes let's assume you're more skeptical than that). You look closely at the bench, watching for telltale visual cues of wetness. You smell the bench, paying attention to how new the paint smells. Finally, you touch the bench, observing whether any paint comes off on your fingers.

You have just operated in a typically human way, and a perfectly scientific way. Someone made an assertion. You wanted to see evidence so you could assess the truth of that assertion. You examined several different lines of inquiry (smell, sight, touch). These lines of evidence all agreed, leading you to the conclusion that the bench is, indeed, wet. Acting intelligently, you elect to stand, rather than ruin your favorite pants.

If that same person were to then tell you that God exists, you'd be inclined to put that assertion through the same rigorous testing that you exposed the first claim to. The thing is, there's no empirical way to test whether God exists by definition. You can make philosophical arguments about the matter (and on that score, the classic monotheistic trifecta of omniscience, omnipotence, and omni-benevolence seems to me logically inconsistent), and you can test specific claims if someone is brave enough to make them (i.e. God will save my life if I jump off this cliff). Interestingly, pretty much all of these specific assertions have failed to provide convincing evidence for the existence of God (see Heliocentrism, for example).

I, therefore, look at the monotheistic conception of God in the same way I look at fairies, Zeus, Thor, and whatever other token members of ancient pantheons or Druidic sects you can imagine. I've seen no evidence to imply that they're real. I've seen some evidence indicating they are not.

Critically, I make no negative assertion - I don't claim there is NOT a God. There simply appears to be no reason to expect one exists.

That said, I do find comedy that pokes fun at religion to be particularly hilarious for some reason:

Jesus Says


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