When it comes to the question of our origins is God a good enough answer? What I would like to do in this discussion is to weigh the scales a bit and make a conclusion. This isn’t to say that I am absolutely right and nor is it to say that my mind can’t ever be changed in this regard. I have my own set of biases so why not be up front with them and make an argument anyway?
One such bias of mine is that absence of evidence can be understood as an argument for absence to some degree. Not to a degree of undeniable certainty but to a degree, I think, of either a high or low probability.
What is the probability that all existing definitions of a God or gods are adequate or even accurate and true? My first thought here is that we are automatically sorely in the dark with this question. I think that even many religious people who do think that they speak and relate with God daily are also left in the dark.
Within the spectrum of religion there are many believers in God that admit that they have never heard from, seen, or sensed God in any way. They simply have a hunch that God has intervened in the lives of many others throughout history. Another faction of religious believers would say that they are certain to some degree that God lives within their heart. God speaks to them through life circumstances, through other people, and they even seem to sense what is called a “still small voice” guiding them.
The next level of folks believe that a God has spoken to them personally either through an audible voice, a vision, and perhaps even through some kind of objective intervention. Some claim that this happened to them when they were alone while others claim they were in a group of other human witnesses.
So how is it that people should approach these matters whether they are religious or nonreligious? These matters should be approached critically and with a resolve to acknowledge what is both clear and not clear within this investigation. My own personal resolve is to strive as best as possible to only reflect and assert what I know in life.
Another bias of mine is that every religion should strive to learn from and factor in what other holy books and prophets claim. This should be carried out consistently rather than with a silent attachment to only one view. This is difficult to do because religion, as I have said in the past, is rather intricately woven into the human identity. To question one’s religion honestly and critically will inevitably bring crisis. In the interest of the truth I think this crisis is not only good but it is necessary. I have a far greater personal respect for any religious person that agrees that uncertainty is not an enemy. Even if their own uncertainty led them to commit even more to a belief in God it doesn’t surprise me that such a crisis would actually lead one to be more passionate and serious about what is perceived to be true in life. That being said, the ultimate conclusion one makes is still very important.
The conclusions we make in life about anything are a reflection of not simply what we think, but how we think. This is where this discussion begins to get heated because it is my contention as a critical thinker that some forms of thinking and logic can lead us down the wrong path. There are some very intelligent and thoughtful conclusions about the question of God but it does not make such thoughtfulness as pure and adequate as it could be! This is where the rubber hits the road as well as where these two camps diverge.
I think there are varying topics that we as human beings exhibit more or less developed intelligence about. In the area of economic theory and being able to predict certain trends I am admittedly atrocious. Higher forms of math that I simply dislike and don’t enjoy working through is admittedly an area I am less thoughtful in. I prefer words over numbers!
With all of this being said, if at any point along the way someone agrees to make a commitment that does not coincide well with their own personal knowledge and experiences then they are more likely to be wrong in their conclusion. On one side of this equation I will say that there are very intelligent believers in God that know far more than me with regard to almost any area of study, but with regard to the question of God I can say that I once considered myself to be a person that related with God on a personal level. The certainty that I had at the time was faulty and thus when I was brought to reassess my past experiences it brought me to change my mind altogether.
(For further clarification on what I mean by having a more or less developed intelligence in certain areas I am not saying that Atheists and Agnostics are superior in overall intelligence to religious believers. Rather, what I would say in this regard is that our actual intelligence as people has only so much to work with within a particular framework or mindset. So to flesh this out a little more I think there are many religious people that have a far greater intellect than my own that can potentially blossom (develop) very well by looking at our origins in another light. This is probably a little controversial to read but can we agree that there are so many areas of thought that if left unexplored may even be underdeveloped among those with a higher intelligence? Atheism is literally a different avenue of thought to explore and this is why I contend that a believing mindset has probably not explored this avenue for all it is worth.)
My strongest first response to the God question is that I do not know with any measure of certainty that a God does in fact exist. This is based out of my own personal life as well as through assessing what many others admit to while still maintaining faith in God. My second response is that I sincerely doubt that any religion is the right religion whether a God exists or not. My third response is that the weight of this uncertainty paired with observing the many contradictory statements within all religions brings me into unresolved tension and doubt toward all of them. The broad picture one gains from investigating the world religions is that they are not compatible with one another. They are often not compatible within themselves.
The rootedness of the world religions dates very far back, no doubt, but with as varied as these answers have been throughout history it reveals to me that they are not operating from objectivity and probably never have. Religions operate primarily from authority and tradition. If religions operated from an objective relational standpoint with what is considered “divine” then there would be amazing potential in the present to end many world conflicts. If it is the priority of religion (as a rule) to bring peace and ultimately a heaven on earth then these frameworks should be truly reflective of how to put everyone on the same page.
If a divine mind wills for a peaceful humanity then religion would be reflective of just that! It would serve to consistently eliminate human egotism, greed, and tribalism. Instead we have differing metanarratives that often set up a false dichotomy of spiritual warfare and opposition between those who believe and those who are either uninformed or non believing. I will grant that there are many peaceful and loving adherents to religion. These folks want to see heaven on earth and yet it is the exclusive nature of their own religion that gets in the way of it. If only one story is true while all others are false then round and round this argument will go without transcending the barriers they inevitably create.
This calls for principles that transcend religious belief systems to be put in place. When it comes to bringing peace and harmony in the world I think religion has had its chance. This is just one man’s honest opinion. There comes a point in this world conversation where there is a clear standstill. This is because we have varying tribes of humanity that have branched out into differing interpretations of a God or gods. There was never unanimity to begin with and thus it will always be the case with these differing approaches to the question of our origins.
In my opinion it is actually quite a fair assessment to understand religious explanations as incompatible with one another and thereby unresolved. We also need to figure out what the utility of religion is within our lives? I will grant here that it serves a desire for meaning and purpose that virtually all people crave. One will be very hard pressed, however, to ever demonstrate such a phenomenon as being any kind of evidence for a God.
This craving for spirituality, meaning, and purpose is just that. It is a drive for living and thriving within this one existence. It is a deep longing for an ideal world and an ideal life. I have no qualms with this! I am an Atheist with these very same desires and needs. It is one thing to say I have a deep passion for purpose and meaning and quite another to assert that it can only be fulfilled within religion.
Some believers will contend, “well, isn’t the fact that most people in the world are religious a strong evidence that God exists?” No, I don’t think so because I think it is pretty clear that religion as a whole has always sought to provide an explanation for human origins. These are the earliest narratives for how to attempt to have an understanding of the universe around us. Religion very likely got the ball rolling but it doesn’t in any way validate the truthfulness of these claims. The only way to do that would be to have the real Slim Shady please stand up! Slim Shady in this case being God of course.
This doesn’t appear to be happening within a scientific understanding of the universe. This is not me saying that science endorses Atheism, however, science does provide multiple layers of objectivity that simply serve to demonstrate to us how this universe works and what we are made of. What we are observing here are a vast array of natural, dare I say, unguided processes that don’t appear to care whether we stay at the party or get swatted to death by multiple meteorites and such.
Evidence strongly suggests that life was once wiped out in this way and was fortunate enough to leave a few stragglers to replenish the planet and take evolution in a completely different direction. So the reason that I no longer throw my hat in with religion is because religion has never served to unwrap the mysteries of life as science has done time and time again. Religion is devoid of many of the most important discoveries that human beings have made.
Why would an intelligent and all knowing deity choose not to reveal the mysteries of the universe to us? Also, why does it appear from many holy books that God was ignorant of such valuable information? God sometimes speaks in these texts like the wisest men in the tribe, and other times makes very little sense at all with his will and intentions.
I guess I just see it as a kind of folly of the mind to credit a God or gods as being the best explanation. There is first and foremost no way to truly validate this view in the present. How is it a case of nonoverlapping magisteria if only one realm is able to be explored on multiple levels? We know the other worlds that exist underneath the surface because of what has been discovered on the molecular level, we have discovered sound waves, magnetic fields, and atomic laws! We have figured out exactly what we are made of and all of the ingredients needed for carbon based life to develop.
Peering outward with the most powerful telescopic technologies we have deduced a universe that started in a singularity, we have discovered that the universe is still ever expanding and even speeding up the further out we look! My ultimate point here is that in light of all of this we have a humanity that agrees on very little else with regard to our origins.
I agree that there are many religiously minded people that have contributed greatly to science so what I am advocating here is not that science alone completely rules out the existence of gods, but if multiple levels of objectivity within our lives render heaven as voiceless and unseen then when does humanity have the right to be brutally honest about this? What advantage is it to the religious mind to advocate worlds and deities that are either utterly undetectable or nonexistent?
These are important questions to wrestle with and it really should be factored into what we view as being most plausible in the end. I think that given the picture of the universe that we presently have we really cannot say with any measure of certainty that a God is required to create it. While all conceptions of God want to essentially fill this void it may be quite erroneous to do so. This is not a stubborn Atheist that does not want to know if there is a God, this is a person that simply wants to best reflect what can truly be known by anyone in the present!
Is it more laborious and careful to suspend our judgements until further information is gathered or to keep harboring faith toward a realm that multiple segments of humanity have no consensus about? I’ll let my friends make up their own minds. Until next time, keep savoring your own passionate pursuit of the truth!