REPLY #24 TO
are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his 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 voilà! 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
(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
(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*