Wednesday, December 19, 2007

On God and Spirituality

I just finished viewing a panel featuring Hitchens and Dawkins discussing why there is no God and what should be done to spread the word. Very interesting, intensely intellectual discussion.

In case you haven't noticed, their message is spreading. A lot of people are going down the path to hard atheism.

Since you asked, I'll tell you what I think. I don't know, I really don't.

Listening to the views expressed by these leading atheists I was struck by one fatal flaw that has plagued mankind since the beginning of civilization - the firm belief that we're at the centre of everything. It's a powerful urge, given that the religious and the atheists both lapse into it at every turn.

Remember when we had to believe that the planets, including our sun, rotated around the earth? We just had to be the centre of everything. Most of the monotheistic faiths have an idea of their God looking just like - why, me! Oh, c'mon Buddha sure does.

What if we're really way too dumb to get it? We don't expect humans in a vegetative state to be able to intellectualize very much. But what if, in the greater scheme of things, our greatest minds are just a tiny notch above that? What if we're all severely mentally challenged on some galactic scale and are just too damn dumb to know it?

We're still puzzling a lot of things out. Get into quantum physics and the string theory and some of the experts predict there are eleven dimensions, seven more than the mere four that we humans are capable of recognizing. If they're right, you inevitably have to ask what's behind Doors 5 through 11, eh?

We've learned so much over the past century and we're still just scratching the surface of the body of universal knowledge. So, my question is, what's the rush? Do we really have some, make that any legitimate need to resolve this God v. no god question now? Maybe we should just put it all on the back burner for another millennium or so until we get answers to all those questions that we're just now discovering that we didn't even know existed a decade ago and that aren't mentioned anywhere in anyone's holy book.

Now we've used religion as a crutch to try to deal with some of the great, unanswerable questions that have plagued man since he first looked up at the starry night sky. Maybe we were taking unfair advantage of religion, sort of like the dad who says "because" when the kid asks "why." But that would just be another typical human failure, not proof that there is no God.

Religion is curious. Everybody belongs to the right one and all the others are wrong. Look at Judaism, Christianity and Islam. We all share the same, Old Testament God, we just use different prophets to persecute the innocent. Neat trick, eh?

So I think that, for now, I'm going to remain firmly agnostic. But I'm always willing to change my vote just as soon as you can tell me where it all began, I mean really began, and what's behind those seven doors.

And a very merry Christmas to you all.


Jay said...

If interested there are a quite a few hours of video
from a variety of speakers at the Atheist Alliance Conference from this year.

Dan Dennett is my favorite.

The Mound of Sound said...

Hey, Jay! Good to hear from you. I really am resolutely agnostic. As I indicated, it remains my belief that, in the great scheme of things, we're dumber than posts which leaves me unable to jump aboard either wagon. Think I'll sit this one out and work on my spirituality. Even among the God types there seems to be a profound deficiency in that these days.

Remember, Jay, religion is for those who want to avoid hell; spirituality is for those who've already been through it.

Pax vobiscum, pal.

Jay said...

I respect that.

I just support reason and the eradication of extremism.

The Mound of Sound said...

Jay if you can figure out what "reason" is and find a way to bottle it you'll be the richest man on our planet. You might even save mankind. Reason is something that's much clearer to the young but becomes really blurry as life drags you through its endless contradictions. At the end of the day, reason comes to be seen as something honoured far more in the breach than in observance. Keep searching for truth, if only for the laughs.

And my Christmas best to you Jay.

Jay said...

I hear ya!

Happy Holidays!

Mike said...


I think you are missing the true meaning of atheism:

A lack of belief in a god or gods.

That doesn't mean a positive assertion that there is no god, but that the belief is not there. This subtle distinction means that an atheist will look for provable explanations for things or merely state 'I don't know yet'. The idea that something was done, created or otherwise influenced by a god or gods simply doesn't enter into the equation.

That being said, it is rather easy to state that there is no God as depicted in the Bible, Koran or Talmud. The God depicted and represented by these beliefs is no more real than Zeus, Loki,Bazuzu or Shiva. There is no evidence supporting their existence and a great deal of evidence that contradicts much of what is in these religious beliefs descriptions.

Hitchens and Dawkins may go over the top sometimes, but when it comes to the common Christian, Muslim or Jewish idea of God, they are absolutely correct.

As far as I am concerned, believe what you want so long as it makes you happy and causes no harm to anyone else:

"But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

-Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782"

Now, try causing me harm or picking my pocket, then we have issues...

And If I don't happen by, Merry Christmas.

The Mound of Sound said...

Mike, glad you made it back from India in time for the Holy days. I appreciate your comments, I really do, but I do have to challenge this post. Just who the hell are you to claim that Loki isn't real? Odin, my friend, is seriously pissed.

Anonymous said...

Some of your answers may lie in the "Zeitgeist Movie" Give it a run through.