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Old 06-21-2016, 06:54 AM   #5
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Natal Transvaal
Posts: 5,148
Default Attempting to think

Originally Posted by aron
More from the same testimony.
I tried to apply Occam's razor to my belief in God, that is, to see if God was the simplest explanation for the world as I see it.

I could accept God, that is a sovereign creator, as an axiom. It seems to me that is as good as assuming that the universe spawned out a quantum fluctuation in the nothingness. There are no scientific experiments proposed for the proof of either, although there is the possibility that God is willing to make himself known. That is the main reason for examining the consequences of this, my first axiom.

An activist God is an interesting concept and can be used to bridge the gap of knowledge that is always present in science, but with the progress of knowledge the space allowed for an intercetionist God becomes more cramped, and there is no reason a priori to assume that this shrinkage will end. Gaps in scientific knowledge do not point to God unless you're already grasping for some reason to justify faith.

A man-centered God is more troublesome -- Considering man's age (at most 1 Myr) compared to the age of the earth (4 Gyr) and the universe (10 Gyr). What we know about the universe demands the question--- what was God doing with the rest of His time?

Was He bound by the physical nature of the universe He created? We know that the only elements to be formed from the Big Bang were Hydrogen, Helium, and Lithium, with essentially inconsequential amounts of heavier elements. The elements that you and I are made of, carbon and oxygen mostly, were formed in the first generation of stars and released into the galaxy by the stellar winds of red giants and supernova explosions of blue super-giants.

Some time scales are in order: it took 300,000 years for the universe to become cool enough for stable atoms of Hydrogen and Helium to form. It was not until the first generations of massive stars burned all of their hydrogen that enough heavy elements were present to for life as we know it --- the sun seems to have formed when the universe was already 7 billion years old. Moreover, evolution being a random process (guided by selection, of course, but there's nothing I know of that can chose which mutations occur, only which mutation survive) it took 5 billion years for man to appear.

Man could also have been formed sooner (the dinosaurs seem sufficiently evolved that there's no reason why we couldn't have lived then) but for some reason it took a number of mass extinctions (not floods--- very little survived) for mammals to gain a foothold, and millions more for modern man to appear. Meanwhile, dozens of hominid creatures came and went, some (i.e. Neanderthals) perhaps driven to extinction by modern man.

Why did He waste time with the earthly epochs that ended in mass extinctions? What about all the other stars and galaxies (billions of them!)? The very physical nature of the universe seem to contradict the assumption that God had a plan with man.

What's more, if one supposes a God exists that is concerned with man, one has to wonder why so much of mankind is in rather sorry shape.

Satan is commonly applied in Christian philosophy to explain the state of the world as we now see it that God should have an adversary (that is the literal meaning of Satan) that contradicts His inherently good design is hard to accept, because it seems to reflect on the nature of God. Firstly, this requires that God is inherently morally ``good'' (as opposed to neutral) which seems to be what one might hope, although a God ambivalent to the human condition--- corruption, disparity between rich and poor, war, famine, etc. ---- would be the simplest explanation for the state of the world.

As corrolaries, one would be tempted to state that Satan is the source of all the "bad'' things in the universe that is, anything contrary to what one would expect God should want (if one is insistent about one's view of what God wants), and that He is to blame for man's evil nature, the idea for which is supported by Romans 7, where Satan may be viewed as the force behind man's sinful nature.

Of course, then there is the logical quandary: Satan is a creature (at least in Christian theology--- I suppose there could be two creators, as in Gnostic philosophy), and thus created by God. Was He created with evil, or merely with the propensity for evil? Man then becomes evil because of Satan's influence. How much responsibility should God bear for the affair? I feel I can avoid this problem by defining ``evil'' and ``good'' to avoid much of the problem (they have not been defined anyways, and are merely relative terms that are meaningless without a standard), however, the ultimate issue of a morally good God is often Punishment which forces one to examine the issue closely. I myself feel a certain helplessness when fighting against my own desires, and I have tentatively concluded that arguing punishment is fair because man has a free will is not adequate.

Nonetheless, I at one point consciously decided to ignore these difficulties, because I could not deny the state of the world, yet I wanted to believe in God. My way out was a supposed experiment--- if God was really there and was interested in mankind, he should make himself known to anyone who should take the time to find Him.

Many religions have fellowship with God as an important part of their religious experience.
This is embodied by the existence of the Spirit in Christian thought. As I understand it from a mystic Christian viewpoint, it has two aspects (which are rather ill-defined in the theology I have been exposed to, although there are plenty of terms): Realization of His presence in situations, i.e. comfort in trials, reward for service (glory), movements to pity or repentance, freedom from guilt.
A leading to action, or the "sense of life'' that is, a feeling to leave a situation, or join one to help, to preach to a fallen soul or maybe offer money or possessions.

In my experience, these are hardly distinguishable from "experiences'' that have nothing to do with God, those which even the godless refer to as "conscience'' or "duty''. The possibility remains that these are more often found among the religious (at least that's what the religious think, and use to justify that what they believe has real effectiveness) simply because their religion is an unspoken contract, by which they have bound themselves to live by those things preached to them.

And thus, I have not found any reason that I should need a God to make my philosophy self-consistent.
"Freedom is free. It's slavery that's so horribly expensive" - Colonel Templeton, ret., of the 12th Scottish Highlanders, the 'Black Fusiliers'
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