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Thursday, July 24, 2014

On God

Posted Sunday, March 4, 2012, at 12:33 PM

Easter is the holiest day of the year and we are now in the Easter season.

This time of year, the mind turns to the spiritual. This will be the first of a few blogs related to Easter.

Does God exist?

The short answer is that no one can even know for sure. It seems that God declines to be proven and requires mankind to have faith.

However, I am persuaded that God does exist. There are two "proofs" that persuade me more than all others.

The first is call, "The Prime Mover."

Socrates postulated this theory. The idea goes like this: If I was caused by my parents, and they were caused by their parents, ad infinitum, the Earth was caused by ..., the Universe was caused by ..., then what caused the first thing? The answer must be God."

The astronomer Carl Sagan answered this question by asserting that there are an infinite number of causes and thus no prime mover. We can encounter infinity routinely in math. Not only are there an infinite number of numbers, there are an infinite number of kinds of numbers.

That said, it appears that time moves linearly. All of creation moves through time. It seems intuitive to me that as every moment is finite, all of time must be finite having a beginning and an end. This would imply a prime mover existing outside of time.

The second thing that persuades me that there must be God is inside the human spirit or inside the human existence.

All human cultures, in all parts of the globe, throughout all of time, have believed in spirits and the supernatural. Why?

I believe that the reason is because something within the human spirit cannot help but have some sort of a connection to its source. If this were not so, why would all human cultures, in all parts of the globe, throughout all of time, believe in a superior power that they cannot see or experience with their senses? There would have to be at least one culture somewhere that was atheist.

It is true that tangible events, lightning and thunder, wind, sunlight and earthquakes, were attributed to the divine. But no one ever saw Zeus, Thor, Isis, or Neptune.

Could there be many gods such as the Nordic, Roman or Greek pantheons? Assuming for the sake of argument that there are, as Socrates asserted, what was their cause but for the Prime Mover, the One Creator? Therefore, that is where worship should be directed. Incidentally, Socrates was put to death for making this assertion.

Could the Prime Mover have peers who may have created their own parallel or non-parallel creations? While it is possible, it is irrelevant. Just as the family dog gives love and praise to its master, so should we. Our love and worship should be directed to our creator even if that creator should have peers.

"I don't believe in God. I believe in science."

Even though the more that Albert Einstein came to understand the universe, the more he was convinced that there must be a God; your position is fair enough.

However, where do the laws of science come from? If there were no creator, how would there be order in the universe? If our Creator is intelligent and logical, how could his creation be anything bur orderly and logical even if the mind of man cannot yet find the logic and order. If all of this just happened, where is the randomness?

The existence of a creator does not eliminate the theory of the Big Bang. It does not mean that the universe isn't 14 billion years old and the Earth isn't 4.5 billion years old.

If God is infinite and we are his creation, we are therefore finite. How can the finite every fully comprehend the infinite? If we are lucky, we can understand our Creator to the same degree that the family pet understands our modern world; like how the car they love to ride in works.

If the creation stories in the Bible are the inspired word of God, if they were written some 5,000 years ago, isn't it reasonable that the revealed information would be in a form understandable to man for the overwhelming majority of his existence.

Incidentally, have you ever noticed that the first part of Genesis is remarkably close to the theory of evolution? First comes the Sun, then the Earth, which forms the seas and atmosphere. Next arrive plants, followed by creatures in the seas.

Then the land was filled with creatures.

Finally, man arose among the creatures on the land and worked his way to the apex creature. Man was given godlike gifts, namely intelligence and freewill.

I doubt whether any modern scientist would disagree that this is the order of events.

Isn't it remarkable that somehow people living 5,000 years ago, with virtually no science, understood this?


Comments
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If your God was the prime mover whence came God? The idea of causation depends upon time. An event always comes after its cause. So your idea of a prime mover outside time is incoherent. I don't know how the universe began and I suggest that you don't either.

Humans are prone to assign agency to unexplained events because this is a good survival characteristic because it is a sensible precaution. There is no need to postulate a supernatural world to account for this trait.

-- Posted by GordonHide on Mon, Mar 5, 2012, at 7:17 AM

God didn't "come from" anywhere. He has always been around. I don't see how people who do not believe in God can smile at times. Do Atheists or Agnostics have anything to look forward to after death? I mean, is this it?

I believe in God and I know that what awaits me is something much better that this... thank GOD!

-- Posted by steve47834 on Mon, Mar 5, 2012, at 8:21 AM

Albert Einstein did not believe in a 'god' and he referred to the Bible as 'primitive' and 'childish'.

He criticized religion as 'mythic' thinking that had brought 'boundless suffering' in HW Smith's book 'Man and God's.

As for your prime mover assertion...You contradict yourself by proclaiming everything must have a creator therefore God must have started. We do not know that everything must have had a creator nor do we know much about history prior to the Big Bang.

As far as your question of where the laws of the universe come from.... The question is assuming an answer and not valid. We have no evidence to suggest they came from anywhere, but instead the conditions of the universe developed during and in the aftermath of the big bang and that they 'came' from our own studying of those conditions that we are now surrounded in. There is no reason to assume it is the only plausible conditions that could exist without any evidence whatsoever.

-- Posted by abdcd on Mon, Apr 2, 2012, at 7:00 PM

Gentlemen,

Thank you very much for your thoughts. Thrashing ideas around is the best part of an on-line column. Moreover, if successive Popes can't agree on all points of faith, surely the rest of us will have divergent opinions.

Let us assume that God does not exist. What meaning is there to life? What reason is there to do good? How does one know what is good and what is bad? How does one face inevitable death?

How could society successfully function and man rise above the level of brutish animal without a belief in life after death and reward or punishment for the things we do?

Decades ago, on a TV show called "Barny Miller," Barny asked a fellow NYC Police Officer who was an atheist what he would do if he discovered there was an afterlife and a God. He replied, "Oops."

Just as the spinning core of the Earth gives direction to the compass needle, belief in God gives direction to life.

If I live a devout life, secure in my faith, comforted in my suffering, facing death with anticipation, and upon dying passing into nullity, what was the harm? Who lived the more fulfilled life, the believer or the atheist? How has the believer lost anything or been harmed? On the other hand, what if the atheist finds himself saying oops?

Regarding "proofs" of God. First note that proof is in quotes and the statement that God apparently declines to be proven and apparently requires faith. There is no way to prove God. At best, we can discover God through his effects the way that scientists prove the existence and properties of sub atomic particles through their effects and mathematics.

There is no doubt that tangible existence moves through time. All things in tangible existence have some cause. If we trace causation backwards, we either come to the first cause or to infinity. If we come to the first cause, what caused it except something beyond tangible existence and time? If we come to infinity, we can conclude either existence exists ad perpetum because it does or because of an infinite God. Which is less likely?

To other points: Einstein could not accept the ideas of early quantum physicists who insisted that things on the quantum level are purely random and could only be measured by probability. Early quantum theorists believed that by observing or measuring existence was established.

While Einstein may not have been a devout Jew, or an adherent of an organized religion, or even may have been an unbeliever during much of his life, he insisted to quantum theorists that "God does not throw dice." The universe is not random so quantum existence cannot be random but operate by fixed laws not yet discovered.

As far as assuming an answer to questions, I must confess I am guilty. I believe that all questions have an answer but I may not know what that answer is. When it comes to the origin of existence and what is beyond life, I believe that it is naive to not consider God among the possibilities. Among the possibilities, I believe that God is more likely than not-God.

-- Posted by Charles Hear on Thu, Apr 5, 2012, at 8:11 AM


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