Night Owl Mk. II

Return to "Religion" essay

Back to Philosophy page

Please feel free to E-mail me with your own comments on this issue or on anything else included in my Philosophy of Life section. Debate is good!

Please report any problems with this page to the Webmaster!


Boldfaced statements are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.

Italicized/emphasized comments
prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.

My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text and are prefaced by my initials (MB).

(R) You compare religious belief to contending the existance of six-foot tall rabbit called Harvey. In other words, you think God has to be verified using logical, rational reasoning in a scientific sort of way.
(MB) I've drawn that comparison for a couple of reasons. First, I wished to demonstrate the folly of attempting to justify a belief in one concept which has absolutely no evidential support while, at the same time, declaring other such concepts to be "fiction". Second, I wished to refute the notion that any being who is claimed to exist in a realm outside that of anything in the universe and for which there is no evidence within the universe can possibly have any effect upon anything within that universe.

(R) Well then, let me present a conclusive proof of God: Ask someone christian (or moslem, or hindu, or whatever) if God exists. He'll probably answer something along the lines of "yes, to me God exists". La voilĂ ! God!
(MB) That is about the extent of the arguments that are being used to support such a belief. I truly find it amazing to see the lengths and breadths to which such believers will go in order to maintain that belief and to argue against anything which disputes it.

(R) In the mind of this person God exists. Of course, if you ask more believers you'll get more Gods, so we're not talking monotheism here.
(MB) To each of these individuals, his beliefs might be monotheistic since he would not (and could not) acknowledge any of the other Gods that others might believe in. The fact that there are so many different deities out there that are worshipped by so many different believers doesn't make religion polytheistic, it simply makes the different versions mutually-exclusive.

(R) Religion, as opposed to rabbits, is something that goes on within the confines of the human mind. The human mind is as yet relatively unchartered territory. Within it, the laws of physics are void. (You couldn't conceive of six-foot tall Harvey otherwise, right?)
(MB) Sure, I could. My ability to conceive of anything is limited only by my imagination mixed with the sum total of my accumulated knowledge and salted with the flavor of emotion. Religious conceptions rely almost entirely on the imagination and emotion parts of that equation.

(R) The purpose of religion has always been to explain those phenomena which are beyond the grasp of man - such as the impossible order of the ecosystem to some modern biologists, or the loss of a child to a parent - to explain the inexplicable and infuse some meaning into the meaningless, in essence serving as a counterweight to reality.
(MB) In other words, religion serves primarily to provide answers and explanations to those who don't have (or don't wish to acknowledge) the facts. Its basic appeal is to emotion and not to intellect.

(R) Dissecting God using scientific tools therefore is pointless, because these two phenomena are blind to each other. Like you wouldn't use a camera to record the song of a blackbird.
(MB) True, but that's not the point of my objections to the religious concepts of "God". If belief in God remained a purely emotional phenomena, there wouldn't be much to quibble about. However, when one attempts to ascribe everything in the universe (and, in fact, the universe itself) to the actions of such a being, this is when it reasonable to ask for some sort of evidence which would support such ideas. To say "God did it. I believe it. That settles it." or to advance meaningless arguments such as "Well, God *could* have done it" and then to claim that this makes such beliefs just as reasonable as any scientific theory is sheer foolishness and such claims should rightly be taken to task.

(R) In fact, I'd say that the moment someone managed to prove the existance of a physical, objective God this God would no longer be God but a god with no divine properies at all.
(MB) "Divine" really means nothing more than "more powerful than me". Remember Arthur C. Clarke's famous comment that was along the lines of how any sufficiently advanced technology would be indistinguishable from magic? If God exists, and we become able to understand him fully, he will no longer seem "magical", but will still be the same entity.

(R) Personally, I consider myself an atheist. This is not something I've chosen - I simply don't believe, that's all. Like you, I think everything, including religion can be explained using the logical, scientific approach. However explaining isn't always an effective means of communication. Irrational methods like intuition may sometimes lead you to better understanding and more productive conclusions.
(MB) That depends on who you are talking to. It is admittedly difficult to use logical methods to change the mind of somebody whose beliefs are grounded in irrationality. However, debates on this subject are not meant to change the minds of the debate participants. They are forums in which to present all sides of the question for the primary benefit of those who are listening and who might be looking for input to help them make up their own minds about the issue. It seems to me that logical explanation is the best (if not the only) way to proceed.

(R) Well, I'm off for now. Thank you for maintaining an interesting site! (Got here via web-grognards, but I got stuck in the philosophy section.)
(MB) Thanks for your views! I hope you get "stuck" here more often...*grin*

Created with Allaire HomeSite 4.0 .......... Last Update: 04 Jun 98

Earthlink Network Home Page