What is God? Is God Real? Does it matter?

I’m Kath, the token Christian of N.L.T. However, hopefully I provide more than a standard interpretation of the Christian faith. I am a socialist, feminist, queer Catholic and just to make things a little more exciting my best friend is involved in black magic and my partner is an Orthodox Jew. I like to believe that this colours my understanding of Christianity and concepts such as God, faith and religion.

This post is in the main a response to the much loved, token bastard of N.L.T: Reuben.

I would like to provide some definitions before I begin. I acknowledge that these words, like many in the English language have many meanings. For the purpose of this post however this is what I mean when I use the following words.

Faith: A personal and spiritual belief.

God: A higher being-“begotten not made” which means essentially that God has no creator.

Religion: A specific faith, held by a group of people and usually with some sort of hierarchy and rules. (You can be religious, or associate yourself with a religion without necessarily respecting or following all elements of the hierarchy or all the rules)

I provided these definitions because there is no point getting into a debate about the existence of God or religion if everyone involved in the debate is thinking of a different thing when they use the word religion, we all need to be on the same page, that said I aim to set out an argument suggesting that such a debate is pointless. (I know, it seems like a bit of an oxymoron)

What is God?

Well the above definition was merely a Christian text-book definition. That is, it is the simplest was of describing the Christian God, in accordance with traditional Catholic teaching.

It is this concept of God that I believe in. I do also believe in God, as the creator, but that does not necessarily make me a creationist! The Catholic Church has always supported the big bang theory as it supports the Christian theory that there was nothing until God created the world. Strict creationism I suppose (though I have limited understanding of creationism) would state that we are all decedents of Adam and Eve and that God created all animals and plant matter as we now see it in 6 days. Clearly this is factually incorrect. It is however possibly that 7 days did not really mean 7 days as we now think of it, but rather 7 different time periods (allowing for evolution) and who knows, perhaps those time periods are not yet complete? However this is a whole other religious/philosophical theory/debate, I mention it only as a way of providing an alternative to strict creationism. I believe that evolution and natural selection make sense as scientific theories, explaining the world around us. However I don’t rule out the possibility that this is a process that God may have begun and may continue to guide.

One thing that can not be denied of most mono-theistic religions, is that they can be incredibly patriarchal (as is the society we live in) However I remember my year 8 RE (Religious Education) and home room teacher (I attended Catholic school from prep to the completion of year 11) beginning some morning prayers with “Dear Mother” rather than “Dear Father”. God can be whatever form we choose it to be, God is whatever you want it to be and as real as you believe it to be. My teacher saw God as a hamster; I have always seen God as a large, queer, black woman with many arms.

Is God Real?

Now evidently I can neither provide you with proof of God’s existence nor her non-existence. All I can do is attempt to explain to you, why I personally have faith in a higher being.

I was baptised as a Catholic and attended church and a Catholic school. Therefore to some extent it can be argued that my faith relates to my upbringing. However I would like to point out that my parents are not particularly religious, and are not regular church attenders. when I was young I used to have to drag them to church on Sunday mornings.

I love Jesus Christ and my love for and faith in him has always been strong. The stories we read and discussed in class depicted him as a Good man, and of course as more than man, as the son of God. He went around healing people, now whether or not this is possible or real is not the point. The point is here was this character who’s life’s mission was about bettering the life of others. He challenged the hard and fast religious rules of the Pharisees, the leaders of the predominant religion (Judaism) of the time. He showed that the interpretation of God’s words could indeed be subjective. For me as a child the two most important things that Jesus taught us were: not to judge, and to forgive. As a child my religion was a simplistic moral code, something to live by and I suppose something which I did not question. I had total and absolute faith. However I was told by my priest that this was not true faith. Faith unquestioned, is dogma, it is not real.

Then my grandmother fell ill. She got Cancer for the first time. Why? Why on earth would God do that? My Grandmother was a good person. This was a confusing time for me I didn’t really know what to believe. I withdrew from the church for some time. I remember feeling guilty when my Grandfather asked us to pray for her, because I couldn’t. Now if you’ve never believed in God, if you’ve never prayed then the following is a concept that you will struggle to understand. I literally couldn’t pray. I didn’t have faith, but I tried to pray anyway, I suppose out of habit, and out of desperation it seemed the only way to help my Grandmother, but I couldn’t. I mean I could kneel, do the sign of the cross and talk to myself, but because I didn’t believe in God, it was like there was something blocking my path. I believe God watches over us all and listens to us all, regardless of our religious affiliation or lack there of but my lack of faith prevented me from feeling that ever so special connection I had once felt…Anyway, my grandmother is a fighter, she fought it and won! She thanked God for her strength and told us that without us, our prayers and the strength God gave her she would never have made it. Again, with my young and simplistic understanding of God, I felt guilty because I didn’t think I had truly prayed or that God had heard me. The night after Grandma told us this I prayed, and I felt the connection. God was real!

A few years latter Grandma fell sick again, I was in late primary school at this stage. Ever morning before school I would go to church and kneel, on the kneeler in front of a statue of Marry. In front of this statue there are many plastic candles with slots in front of each. I put money in a slot in front of one candle and it would light up, I lit a candle everyday for Grandma. I would pray for her and our family and I would say the Hail Marry. One night, I overheard my parent’s talking about Grandma. Dad told mum that the Chemo wasn’t working, and that the doctors had said it was only a matter of days before she died. They were debating whether or not it was appropriate to take my brother and me in to see her before she died. The next morning I went to church once more before school, but this time was different. There was desperation in my prayer, as though if I prayed hard enough I’d save her. I remember crying and concentrating really hard on the face of Marry. Then, and it’s hard to explain exactly; I saw a change in the facial expression of the statue and I felt some sort of feminine, maternal comforting presence. I stoped crying and went to school. Within days Grandma turned a corner, the Doctors didn’t expect it, and couldn’t really explain it. Not that we cared. She got better! Since then we’ve had eight years with Grandma. She’s seen four births in the family, her son got married and her eldest grandchild (me) graduated from high school and many other significant and fantastic events.

Just recently Grandma, has again been diagnosed with Leukaemia, we now rely on modern medicine and prayer. If you are religious I ask you to include Helen and her family in your prayers.

I do not present this as evidence, more as an insight into my personal faith. Since that time I have questioned my faith and my religion, as two separate, though related things. I have periodically flittered in and out of the St Joseph‘s community, (my local parish).

Clearly as a feminist and a political queer I do not agree with or like all elements of Catholicism. However my belief in God remains strong and I love my parish.

Does it matter?

In my opinion the existence of God is relevant only if you believe in her. I believe in God, and God is important to me, though I might not be a crucifix wearing, abstaining, hetro. I have learn that the bible like most religious texts is all about interpretation.

Reuben has in the past argued that it does matter because religion and faith must be held accountable.

I would disagree. My faith does not need to be held accountable because it doesn’t hurt anyone. It is not faith or religion itself which needs to be held accountable but any religious authority i.e: the Pope, or theocracies.

I do not HAVE to defend or explain my faith to believe. However when religion takes a place of political authority, any decree made by a political ruler in the name of religion or God that person must be held accountable.

The most used example of this is the former Taliban rule of Afghanistan. However it should be noted that the vast majority of actions of this supposedly Islamic rule were directly contrary to teachings of the Koran. It is not religion which is to blame, but the people who choose to distort religion for their own gain, manipulating people through religion.

Another example is that of the Pope, the head of the Catholic Church. In more recent times the Catholic Church has come under fire for their involvement in Aids affected Africa, promoting the use of abstinence over “unnatural” contraception to prevent aids, maintaining that with abstinence Aids could be eliminated in a generation. Wom*n who remain virgins, until marriage than die as a result of aids because their husbands were H.I.V positive have been heralded Martyrs for the Christian faith. The Catholic Church has even been accused of spreading myths about the effectiveness of condoms and even stating that condoms were the cause of Aids! For this and the resulting deaths of course the Catholic church must be held accountable! Though it should be noted that what happens in Africa as a result of Papal preaching goes against EVERYTHING that Christianity stands for; manipulating and exploiting the poor and murder! Many nuns in parts of Africa are keenly aware of this hypocrisy and have been found to be handing out condoms and educating people about contraception, including “non-natural contraception”. While I don’t deny that the Vatican as a religious authority must be held accountable, I argue that these actions are not in keeping with the scriptures but rather a desire for control and power held by members of the Catholic hierarchy. I also argue that it is necessary to hold accountable the wealthy, western nations of the world who have not been prepared to give adequate aid money, money which they do indeed have!

I did my best to keep this post as ordered as possible, and not just a total rant. Essentially my conclusion is that faith and religion and a belief in God are three separate though connected concepts and that they are purely personal. A debate about the existence of God seems unnecessary. Believers believe and non-believers don’t. While both may change their belief I don’t think any belief change either for or against the existence of God will occur through debate. I also see there as being no real point to the debate-such debate achieves nothing, and even if it were possible to prove that God didn’t exist, it would not change the world in any significant way! My faith in God does not affect Atheists; it does not rock or change the world. So who cares. The existence of God is irrelevant unless you believe.

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18 Responses to What is God? Is God Real? Does it matter?

  1. nlthinking says:

    I relise that this post is incredibly long, but i felt it all needed to be said

  2. Reuben says:

    Kath,

    1. Faith cannot be held to account because any sane person would know it’s not accountable to anything (least of all the laws of physics). You got that point right.

    2. I believe it does effect other people; it does create externalities. Faith must be held in high regard, so naturally it follows that it’s an intrinsic part of one’s identity. This means that one’s actions is, to an extent, as a result of their faith. I’m sure many Family First voters vote for FF because of their religious standpoint. Many opponents to abortion take a religious view; the arguments against stem-cell research is most probably dominated by religious intones.
    The reason why Jess would not drive on Shabbat is because of religious reasons and whilst that is a good thing (environmentally, at least), I’m sure her views on Israel and its illegal occupation of Palestinian territories stem from her religious upbringing and identity. The extension of one’s faith beyond one’s head is not uncommon and in some cases (at least in the case of the door-to-doorios that frequent Thornbury), mandatory. Religious convictions are perfectly analogous to political leanings.

    3. A God that exists (as you described) as an all-powerful being must also have evolved and if the cause-effect events exist in other dimensions stand true, must have been the result of something. If we continue to speculate about this, we have an infinite regress where a circular, nonsense argument manifests. This is one of many trails of reason against the idea of God. Perhaps (on a separate post), you could cover the main arguments and see how we go. To be frank, I don’t think the bible would include a section on arguments for/against god’s existence. It states it as fact and makes it dogma.

    4. At Ocean Grove, you said your life environment was the presiding factor over your views. Determinism, as Oskar mentioned on my blog, is too prescriptive and isn’t testable (ethically, at least), as a hypothesis. How can you seriously believe in determinism if it’s untestable? My anecdote of being brought up as a secular Jew might weight against your claim; my mother is still hoping one day I might marry a Jew and have a multitude of little Reubens (something, I doubt very much, the world may need). With the aid of a particularly nasty meeting with some evangelical Christians in California, I made the switch to Atheism. I now am an atheist (not an atheist Jew; Judaism is not an ethnicity). I broke free of the chains of religion. Kath, I’m sure you’ve encountered many people with opposing views, but you’ve stayed your course. Why? The environment is not the biggest factor if our anecdotes are to be taken as evidence.

    5. What’s so attractive about believing in an apparently soon-to-be-ressurected zombie Jesus? What’s wrong with Bertrand’s teapot? 😉

  3. Reuben says:

    Also, I forgot:

    6. If you question your faith so much, what do you question it with if not reason? Seeing as faith is totally unaccountable to logic or reason, how do you measure it? On what basis?

  4. nlthinking says:

    2.
    “I believe it does affect other people; it creates externalities”
    In my opinion it is neither faith nor religion itself which CAUSES these externalities.
    Sure you can list of a whole heap of guessed at anecdotes about people doing what we would consider to be “bad” things as a result of their faith, likewise I could list off a set of anecdotes in which people do good things, citing their faith as a reason for these actions. However as you continually say anecdotal evidence is not valuable evidence! As I said religion can have a set of rules and a hierarchy, however in contemporary western religions there are no serious actions taken against people who choose to disobey or disregard certain rules. This is common practice. I know many Muslims, Jews and Christians who advocate for queers rights, and abortion rights. These people have a belief in God and have been taught essentially the same lesson (all religions teach it) and that is to treat all people equal and to love everyone. These people make the conscious choice to take one particular interpretations of the scriptures and live by that interpretation. This is not religion itself causing these responses, it is the individual consciences of these people which have made certain decisions. (How we gain a conscience and what informs it I’m not entirely sure.) Likewise there are people who read the bible and somehow come to the conclusion that it is right to do things like ban same sex couples from marriage and prevent abortion. These people just like the more leftwing people mentioned before have interpreted the scriptures in a manner which suits there conscience. Now while sensible people like me are just baffled by their ability to read inequality and hatred into the bible, the existence of these people does not in my mind prove that religion is the direct CAUSE of these externalities. In places where there is less free will associated with religion it is because religion has taken a place of authority. In this situation religion is USED by people to manipulate and do (in my view) evil deeds. However again this does not make religion the CAUSE of these great wrongs.
    I ask you not to speculate at the view of people who you do not know, in particular my partner, especially when she is not here to respond to your speculation.

    3.
    You say that God must have evolved from something, but why? The truth is that you can’t say indefinitely that god MUST have evolved from something, all you can do is say that based on your understanding of the organisms that you have seen on this planet, and most things evolve. HOWEVER if God is of another realm, another world, who knows perhaps another universe there is no reason why He/She/It/They “must” have evolved in the same way that we believe the organisms we see did. If we were to go with your God evolved from something else theory, this still does not prove God’s non-existence. Just because we don’t know what God evolved from (if indeed she did evolve from anything) doesn’t mean that the thing which God evolved from never existed.
    You site the fact that if we keep speculating about the existence we will come up with more and more questions as a reason for God’s non existence. I will not accept that because something is to hard to understand it necessarily doesn’t exist. Besides your argument is itself circular and hypocritical. You say we can not believe God exists because we do not now how he evolved (if he indeed did) and yet you can believe the big bang theory without knowing what caused it. The big bang theory is just as questionable as the existence of a God. Yet you are prepared to accept the big bang, because as far as you are concerned it is simple and explainable. Just because something can be simply explained in scientific terms does not make it necessarily real, similarly just because something cant be explained in scientific terms does not make it necessarily un-real.

    4.
    Just for the record Nat and I never exactly stated that it was your environment that forced you to have faith nor did we say that being brought up in a religious household nor being told you were of a particular religion would necessarily make you religious. Rather what we said was that faith was not a choice. You chose to call it “environment” because that’s the only way your tiny little science brain could understand it. What we argued was that belief in God is not a choice. If you have a strong conviction that God exists, as I do, if as far as you are concerned as I am that God is REAL, you can not simply flick a switch in your head and decide well no, I’m not going to believe that any more. We said that one’s life experience will undoubtedly play a role in someone’s faith, the experiences I’ve had with my grandmother have certainly played a part in my faith. However this is far from me saying that living with Catholics made me a Catholic.
    While we’re on the topic of families and environments causing religion while I have never argued this I’d like to point out that your experience does not in any way shape or form support the claim that environments and families do not cause one to be religious. “ I broke free of the chains of religion” I mean c’mon, lets be fair here you haven’t exactly battled all odds to become an Atheist. Your mum considers herself to be a secular Jew, she is not religious and does not force religion on you nor does she even practice around you and your father labels himself Agnostic but unashamedly leans towards atheism, which is not something I’m criticising.
    “my mother is still hoping that I might one day marry a Jew and have a multitude of little Reubens” Give me a fucking break! That is TOTAL and utter BS! I know your mother and she will be shocked and disappointed when I tell her you said that! SHE did NOT marry a JEW! She only had ONE child! Your little story about your struggle against religion and views held by the family is a JOKE! My mother is a Catholic wom*n married to a Catholic man, She is one of 11, he is one of 5, I am one of 3, my parents would have liked to have more but medical complications have prevented that from being so. I think if anyone is to talk about challenging family expectations and opinions here, it’ll be me! For you to talk about family expectations in such a way is utter nonsense and to be perfectly honest I must at this point accuse you of at the very least misleading your audience (it’s being so small does not make it any less wrong) and at the worst of down right lying! So that’s quite enough of your bullshit about battling to free yourself from the constraints of religion, to become something strikingly different from your family! You are not religious, and you are not from a religious family though the three of you do have varied ideas and opinions on Faith, religion and God, this is hardly the same as the battle you would have readers believe you fought for your freedom of opinion.

    5.
    That’s a cheap shot; I’m not going to take such crap seriously, particularly given what preceded it.

    6.
    Questioning exists in any number of ways Reuben. Your obsession with Logic and reason does not make it infallible. Faith does not need to be measured. As I have stated ands re-stated numerous times, just because something can’t be measured or explained in maths or scientific terms does not make it wrong or false.

  5. Reuben says:

    2. You don’t seriously think that without their religion, many of these anti-abortion protesters and anti-stem cell cloning idiots would be on the same wavelength? You also failed to address my point about how faith (particularly illogical faith) becomes a permanent fixture of one’s identity; and how it would manifest in different parts of their life. I never said it was the main cause and the fact that this is almost impossible to quantify, qualify or evince makes your claim about ‘CAUSE’. I find it hard to believe that one can separate and isolate their faith so easily. And I think you do too.

    3. Why? Because Evolution is a scientific fact. Anything beyond the realm of science is just solipsism and cannot be taken seriously (at least within the realm of rationality). Descend down the path of solipsism and you might as well forfeit the debate.
    The big bang theory is not as questionable as the belief in God because we have observed its effects. I seriously think this is scientific ignorance on your behalf; scientists can observe the universe expand and contemporary research shows a ‘big bang’ was the cause that led to that effect. That is what we know. Anything beyond that is nonsense (seeing as it has no evidence). Your idea that “similarly just because something cant be explained in scientific terms does not make it necessarily un-real” is utter bollocks. And this is my main dispute with religion; it does not explain anything. It teaches us to be satisfied with not knowing further things. But science does teach us things. And no…I’m not going to debate the merits of science or science theory because I might as well debate the validity of the binomial probability theorem. I smell a logic fallacy.

    4. Saying “Rather what we said was that faith was not a choice. You chose to call it “environment” because that’s the only way your tiny little science brain could understand it.” is just plain immature and an indictment on your own scientific brain. What’s with the hate towards science here Kath?
    As for your idea about changing your views, I say ‘why not’? I changed my views about god (and I don’t appreciate you denigrating the evolution of my perspective) so why can’t you? The inability to change one’s opinion like that is fundamentalism.
    You also display a poor knowledge of my struggle. Whatever my mum’s religious leanings does not invalidate my own personal experience. I guess I’m partially to blame for not explaining my standpoint and how I came to hold such views. But don’t make crude assumptions; it only erodes your specious argument further. And thanks to your concluding diatribe, my anecodote-arrogance – o – meter has just got readings off the scale.

    5. I was hoping for a joke. Oh well…
    But seriously, I haven’t heard any jokes about your faith yet. Surely that’s a healthy sign? I make jokes (or at least I attempt to) about atheism… albeit with some help from Nat. 😉

    6. What other epistemological method do you propose then? The fact you use some degree of reason to explain your faith just makes you look that little bit more sanctimonious. Of course we could just look up some stuff in an ancient book, select a paragraph that pleases us and steer one’s entire argument based on that…but that might evoke too much passion for a “bullshit” artist like myself.

  6. Kath,

    A very interesting piece. It’s amazing that I just wrote a piece today entitled “Does God Really Exist”. I am just a little shocked that I noticed a similar title. Your writing style is wonderful and I sense such honesty in your words. I am going to check out your blog and possibly leave some more comments. I am a spiritual writer who enjoys poetry, yet I am still sorting out my niche as far as the poetic gendre of writing for God. I am praying and asking for guidance. It’s wonderful that you are able to express your life story well, as I find that keeping journals and writing is the greatest release of anxiety.

    Sabbay
    Happy Holidays

  7. nlthinking says:

    This is Oskar speaking:
    I would question your definition of god. Many peoples’ beliefs do not require god to be a ‘being’ (pantheists like Einstein for example).
    Also, what you said about the big bang is a bit old hat. It is now thought that the universe has been ‘springing’ in and out for an infinite time. More coming, I’m about to have dinner. Reuben, you’re arguments aren’t perfect either.

  8. This Devil's Workday says:

    WAS going to read the comments as well, but…

    To me, if you’re not following the rules directly, and changing your interpretation based on your own personal views (if not what else is affecting this interpretation), it kind of beats the point of having “faith”. We have a multitude of people who technically believe in the same religion but interpret its meanings in totally different ways. If that’s the case, how can you possibly know which aspects are supposed to be followed and which ones not to? Surely then you’re simply just following the bible as merely a philosophical reading?

  9. Reuben says:

    If TDW’s statement is true, then it can be said that I am devoutly Chocolatarian; I worship at the alter of cocoa and I preach support for the coming of the new Dark Chocolate from Guinea Bissau.

  10. Kath says:

    Reuebn:
    2.
    I know many anti-abortionists and homophobes and misogynists who are not religious.
    Your paragraph here is generally unclear, not sure exactly what you’re trying to say.
    As for faith being an important part of ones identity, I suppose it is, it’s an important part of mine, but I can’t speak for all people of faith and you most certainly can’t. And you said something about separating and isolating their faith. I assume what you mean by this (though as I said I’m not to sure what you mean) is that people of a particular religion will follow the “rules” (for lack of a better word) of their religion. As in someone who identifies as a Catholic could not do something that wasn’t in accordance with catholic rules. Is this what you mean? If it is, then it’s clear that, that is factually incorrect. There are lots of people who continue to believe themselves to be religious but do not follow every single rule of that religion. A good and fairly well known example is of the nuns handing out condoms in Africa. These are wom*n who have devoted their whole lives to serving Christ and the Church, yet they still have their own personal conscience and brake rules of the Church. My priest, a man who has also devoted his life to serving Christ and the Church gave a sermon on why the Catholic Church should ordain wom*n.

    3.
    Do you know what Solipsism is? How do you define it? Because as I have understood it through my philosophical study I’m not convinced you’re using it in the right context. Solipsism is a bit like the Descartes Cogito argument. I think, therefore, I am. Solipsism is the philosophical term which relates to the existence only of the self. Which is not at all what I am arguing here.
    Again your only defence of science is, it must be true! I am not arguing that it isn’t true, I am arguing that it MIGHT not at this current moment hold ALL the answers. You refuse to argue the merits of science and that’s fine, but it is totally reasonable of me to suggest that there may be things which human science has not discovered and may never discover. If you read Thomas Kuhn, he has a theory of scientific paradigms, which, put really simply; outlines that there are continuous changes in what we consider to be “scientific knowledge” That is at one stage in time we may believe one thing to be true, at another stage we are forced to question that, and eventually it becomes apparent that what was previously viewed as fact (or as close as we can get to fact in the scientific realm) is not right and another fact will replace the previous one. A well known example is the flat earth, once believed to be flat then found to be round. What I am saying is that science is not infallible: it does not know everything, and what it does know may not be true.

    4.
    Well I’m sorry that, that statement looked like an insult towards science, that’s not how I intended it. Rather it was an insult at you. I have hatred for neither science nor yourself, rather frustration at your small mindedness. All I’m really saying is that science might not know it all and that what we think we know in science may not necessarily be true and that God MIGHT exist.
    The “why” of why cant views be changed is something that I find hard to explain. For me I feel that I have been given proof in the existence of God, I know that it’s not proof to anyone else and I don’t prevent it in such a way. I experienced something divine and I cant simply lie to myself and say that no I did not experience that. I have a belief in God and that’s not something that I can turn off, if I tried to I’d only be lying to myself.
    You presented your mother as some small minded religious wom*n who wanted you to get married to a Jew and have children, that’s simply not the truth. You may have had some struggle of which I am not aware, but it was not a struggle against your family.

    5.
    As for the jokes about religion, I think they’re appropriate in specific times and places…in a serious debate in which I feel I have to defend my right to have faith is not what I consider to be the appropriate time and place.

    6.
    Empty, pointless insults…Yes our marriage is going nicely 😛

    Oskar:
    The God as a “being” is but one belief, and it does happen to be mine. Of course there are other possibilities. I can’t say I’m aware of Einstein’s personal faith.
    As for the big bang theory comments, your statements only go further to support what I’m saying. Your statement began with “what is NOW believed”…well this is my point exactly, it is always changing. Reuben’s beloved reason and logic point to the possibility that science knowledge is not infallible, objective or complete.

    TDW:
    When I choose not to follow “rules” of the Catholic Church, it is the man made rules which I do not follow, the rules which do not necessarily come from the scriptures. If I do not follow these rules it is because I believe they clash with the true message of Christianity. As for biblical interpretations, all texts can be interpreted, including the laws of the courts and parliaments. I read and interpreted based on what I believe Jesus would want, what I believe he would want has been informed by my religious teachings and I suppose my conscience. Neither of these things makes my faith any less true. As for reading the bible as a philosophical text, well I’d agree with you. It is a basic moral guideline and in that way exactly like an ethical philosophical text.

    No, Reuben…that does not follow.

  11. Reuben says:

    2. I will shortly be doing a post about that very issue; I think it’s more complex than can be answered in this post. I don’t agree with you…but you’ll find out later, why.

    3. Kath, I know that. That’s scientific theory: something is true until a better explanation with better evidence exists to replace it. There is always room for error in science; there is nothing remotely single minded about it. What, however, is ridiculous is when you think speculation of what might be ‘beyond science’ (let’s just take this as a literal term…and not read too much into it). A scientist that studies the entrails of a grasshopper won’t speculate beyond what is observable in terms of evidence; no sane scientist would deem there to be a small dwarf named Jon in charge of a tow-truck in Noble Park by looking at these entrails…but this is tantamount to what people do when they read a book about a formidable, omnipresent and powerful being that can capriciously destroy ‘evil’ (as if that’s a fixed definition) at its own volition. If I passionately believe in Bertrand’s teapot, then that is no more ridiculous than your belief in God. But if I insisted that I do believe in Bertrand’s teapot, you’d probably (and rightly), think I was mad. Just because science can’t explain certain phenomena, doesn’t mean
    a) It won’t, or
    b) Religion can do any better.
    Truth is evidence.

    4. Small-mindedness? Seriously? Kath, I think you seriously need to get a better dictionary. You earnestly believe in a superstition without evidence, but ironically I’m small minded. My mind is open to anything (even God…if there was a modicum of evidence), but some things you have to eliminate from your belief for the sheer sake of their craziness. And I do that based on evidence. I dare say, you do that too…especially when you make rational judgments about (for want of a better example) about scheduling a night at the pub based on bargain drinks. Humans use reason and rationality in most of their day-to-day lives, but in the context of faith, some immediately drop it. Is that really open-mindedness?
    As for my mum, she isn’t small minded…but (and whilst I’m treading a fine line as far as socially-acceptable descriptions of one’s parents) she hasn’t given much thought to religion; she has merely followed the ideas around her and hasn’t challenged them. Only today I had a feud with her over what society should tolerate. She was not used to having an idea challenged so much.
    Finally, I have to ask you, what other epistemological reasoning do you have (aside from logic and rationality) to support your faith?

    5. I think a sign of robustness and confidence in one’s stance is when one can openly mock (respectfully, mind you) and joke around with one’s ideals…though I’m looking for an Atheist joke book. I can’t wait to laugh at myself.

    6. As for our marriage, I think you’ll find that the power interplays and struggles we have is merely a test of our immutable bond… 😉

    On a different note, I’ll be meeting a family friend who is actually an ultra-uber orthodox Jew from the Adass community (clearly the most orthodox). It will certainly be a most interesting (if amusing) experience and I shall hopefully report back on this new development.
    I’m excited that this forum/blog is becoming an excellent source for robust and challenging debate…there’s nothing quite more refreshing.

  12. nlthinking says:

    Oskar again:
    Reuben, I have no idea what your ‘god must have evolved’ thing is based on. Perhaps we have different ideas of a god (in fact I’m sure of it), but I was not under the impression that anyone considered it an organism. A more cohesive argument might be that there is no need to call on god as an initial absolute. If you call on a god because the universe must have come from somewhere then you have an argument that comes back on itsself because the got must have come from somewhere. Of course this does not prove anything, just invalidates the (fairly limited) argument made above.

    Kath, you have so far provided no actual reason for your belief in god (other than perhaps your upbringing). It should be noted that I am not actually against people following any religion, no matter how extreme, as long as they keep it to themselves. Ideally I think that at around the age of 15 children should be exposed to any religious works that they want and allowed to make their own decission as to what they believe. Once this is done I see no reason why the topic should come up. Belief should be personal and not something that binds you to a group or way of life.

    “the possibility that science knowledge is not infallible”
    As a scientist I feel duty bound to say that any actual scientist will be completely sure that nothing he or she ever comes up with will be correct. All we can hope for is a method of predicting events with greater accuracy than the existing method. Its like watching a clock hand go round and trying to determine the inner gearing mechanism.

    Also, by your definitions I am well within my rights to consider myself a Christian without any shift in my personal beliefs or practices. For me you could say that god is everything, we are each our own judge and heaven and hell are metaphors (for instance) for the moment before we die and we decide if we are happy with the way we have lived our lives. Make of all that what you will.

  13. Reuben says:

    I don’t know if God evolved or not (assuming it exists), Oskar. But if evolution is present here on Earth as an ongoing process, it’d be no less logic to assume that ‘divine evolution’ exists (or if ‘divine creationism’ exists).
    But it looks like your cohesiveness has beclowned me. Bravo. 🙂

  14. nick says:

    Oskar, evoloution is not limited to organisms.
    The process is present in both many metaphysical things (concepts, ideas, etc) and physical objects (ie. the making or shaping of a tool or some other object down to it’s last use, etc).

  15. Reuben says:

    Nick, I’m pretty sure that Oskar knows that; I’m not sure how your point is related to this debate.

  16. nlthinking says:

    Oskar: Nick, that depends on your definition of both and organism and what you mean by evolve. I would, for instance say that a society or idea could be an organism. This does not make an actual god an organism, just the idea of one.

  17. Reuben says:

    Where’s Kath to keep us all back on track?

  18. Brian says:

    “The Catholic Church has always supported the big bang theory…”

    Just so long as it’s performed in the missionary position.

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