Dialogue On God. Reality or Ultimate Myth?

Posted by Thomas Perez. September 14, 2009 at 7:48pm. Copyright 2009.

Introduction

The question pertaining to the existence of a creator God is considered one of the most asked fundamental questions of the most recent past and present. The future state of such a question will rest entirely upon the answers given by its predecessors or the ultimate revelation of the divine. No one can deny the fact that by asking such a question will, in return, provide several intakes on the existence or non-existence of a Creator being. Regardless of the intakes, one will always be left with a belief or disbelief in such a being. Considering this, we must bear in mind and remember the fact that 95% of the worlds population believes in God or a deity of some sort, in one form or another. Can they all be wrong? With this knowledge of a worldwide belief in a deity, one is thus truly justified by asking the question at hand. But, by asking such a question, does that mean an all powerful omnipotent being truly exists?

Let us consider the fact that we know certain things do exist. We also know that whatever we can imagine is based upon perception of what we see, yet French philosopher Descartes questioned the very perception of reality (the existence of the things that we see, smell, taste, hear, and touch, through perception of the senses). Yet, surrounding this world of perception, we also know that a sixth component exists as a result of the apparent truth of the senses and that is called ‘imagination.’ We all tend to imagine a God that no one has ever seen, smelled, tasted, heard, or touched. How is this possible? There are no limits to the human imagination. For example; we can imagine that pink elephants and flying fairies exist, but we all know that they don’t. However, pink exists, elephants exists, wings exists, men and women exist! So how did man come up with the idea of an eternal being in a world where death exists? How did man conceive of such a notion from a blake slate? Is there a blank slate to begin with?

There are many arguments one can apply to the ultimate question of the existence or non-existence of a God. To begin, we must examine the question from a foundational form of deductive reasoning, from a philosophical approach and scientific approach-of which the latter two will be discussed. Like two parallel lines we must draw upon deductive reasoning to insure a conscience free of questions. Yet, others believe that answering this question will always be beyond our comprehension to fully understand. However, we who dare to be persistent must understand the pros and cons pertaining to such inquiries. The case of a question will always necessitate an outcome, whether that outcome is to be a belief or disbelief in a creator God.

Yet, while we ponder this thought, let us consider some of the greatest thinkers and philosophers that ever lived. For example: Plato, Aquinas, Anselm, Leibniz, and Descartes, to name a few; all believed in a deity of some sort. If we are still not convinced, what about some of the greatest scientists, who all believed in creation and indeed; in all the great Biblical doctrines of Christianity. Such men, their scientific disciplines, and notable inventions are:

1. Issac Newton 1642-1727 (dynamics, calculus, law of gravity, and the reflecting telescope)
2. Johann kepler 1571-1630 (celestial mechanics, ephermeris tables, and astronomy)
3. Robert Boyle 1627-1691 (chemistry and gas dynamics)
4. Lord Kelvin 1824-1907 (thermodynamics, absolute temperature scale, energetics, and the transatlantic cable)
5. Louis Pasteur 1822-1895 (bacteriology, pasteurization, fermentation control, biogenesis law, vaccination, and immunization)
6. Matthew Maury 1806-1873 (oceanography and hydrography)
7. Michael Faraday 1791-1867 (electromagnetics, electric generator, and field theory)
8. James Clerk Maxwell 1831-1879 (electrodynamics)
9. John Ray 1627-1705 (biology and natural history)
10. Carolus Linnaeus 1707-1778 (taxonomy and classification system)
11. Joseph Lister 1827-1912 (antiseptic surgery)
12. Georges Cuvier 1769-1832 (comparative anatomy)
13. Charles Babbage 1792-1871 (computer science, actuarial tables, and the calculating machine)
14. Lord Rayleigh 1842-1919 (dimensional analysis and model analysis)
15. Ambrose Fleming 1849-1945 (electronics and thermionic value)
16. Henri Fabre 1823-1915 (entomology of living insects)
17. George Stokes 1819-1903 (fluid mechanics)
18. William Herschel 1738-1822 (galactic astronomy and double stars)
19. Gregor Mendel 1822-1884 (genetics)
20. Louis Agassiz 1807-1873 (glacial geology and ichthyology)
21. James Simpson 1811-1870 (gynecology and chloroform)
22. Leonardo da Vinci 1452-1519 (hydraulics)
23. Blaise Pascal 1623-1662 (hydrography and the barometer)
24. William Ramsey 1852-1916 (isotopic chemistry and inert gases)
25. Bernard Riemann 1826-1866 (non-Euclidean geometry)
26. David Brewster 1781-1868 (optical mineralogy and the kaleidoscope)
27. John Woodard 1665-1728 (paleontology)
28. Rudolph Virchow 1821-1902 (pathology)
29. Joseph Henry 1797-1878 (electric motor, the galvanometer, and self-induction)
30. John Herschel 1792-1871 (global star catalog)
31. Humphry Davy 1778-1829 (mine safety lamp)
32. Francis Beacon 1561-1626 (scientific method)
33. Samuel F.B. Morse 1791-1872 (the telegraph)

According to Morris “The humanistic claim that scientists can not believe the Bible is refuted by the fact that many of the greatest scientists of the past were Bible – believing creationist Christians” (‘The Biblical Basis for Modern Science‘, pg 21). But were such men merely by-products of a time and world in which it was considered the norm to believe in an eternal being? Were they victims of their own ignorance? When we study classical history, we can observe a trend. We can see periods of enlightenment, to be followed by great darkness, and once again to be superseded by another enlightenment through out the course of history. It is during the stage of enlightenment that we see a break through in modern science. Furthermore, according to Morris “it was no coincidence that it was in the milieu of the Reformation and the Great Awakening that modern science first grew and began to thrive. Fruitful scientific research almost demands a Biblical world view, either consciously or subconsciously, a world view in which like causes produce like effects, where natural phenomena follow fixed and intelligible natural laws, and where we can have confidence that we can think rationally and meaningfully. Such a world presupposes no random, chaotic origin but an origin under the control of a great mind and will, an intelligent and volitional First Cause, a great lawgiver who can enact, implement, and enforce His created laws” (‘The Biblical Basis for Modern Science‘, pg 22).

To begin, we must present what I call ‘The Great Comparison.’ We will begin by drawing upon the evidence for a Creator Being and within that augmentation, we will then compare the opposite of such; the other side of this two sided coin. When researching this two sided coin, we must ask ourselves some basic questions first. We must be fair and open to the questions at hand and question even the answers that are provided and given. Perhaps the most basic question is whether there is a personal God that created the universe and if there is, does He have a continual interest in the affairs of men and all that surrounds mankind? To answer such questions the following comparisons will be observed. Such comparisons will consist of classical and latest arguments for the existence or non-existence of a creator God. There are ten classical and latest argumentation’s in reference to a belief or non belief in God.

They Are As Follows:

1. General Arguments for the Existence of God
2. The Cosmological Argument
3. The Teleological Argument
4. The Ontological Argument
5. Plantinga’s Warranted Christian Belief
6. The Moral Argument or Ethics
7. The Problem of Evil
8. Pascal’s Wager
9. Free Will vs. Determinism
10. The Hiddeness of God/The Jesus Evidence

Now that title topic argumentation’s for the existence of God has been established, what’s on the other side of this coin? What is the opposite? What is the alternative answer? Here is a list of ten corresponding opposites, numbered one to ten as posed above. Such alternatives would be discussed when giving the apology set forth above.

They Are As Follows:

1. God Simply Does Not Exist. The concept of a God is imaginary.
2. Evolution, Random Selection, The universe is infinite (No beginning or end), or one of many parallel universe’s exist. There is no Creator, everything is by chance.
3. Atheistic rebuttals against empirical evidence of intelligent design.
4. It is logically impossible or highly improbable that an Almighty Being exists.
5. Warranted beliefs in a supreme Being, does not justify the evidence of a Deity.
6. Morality and Ethics are based upon in individuals concept of what is right or wrong. This depending upon culture and society, not upon any God given principles of law, morality, or ethics.
7. If there is a God, why does He allow untold suffering and evil upon this planet?
8. Those that believe in a God, do so to satisfy their fear in such a Being. Therefore their faith is based on a wager and not any evidence whatsoever. They rather believe in God than take the chance on an eternity in a Hell? (they play it safe). Note: the question mark is inserted due to some who believe this concept.
9. The question of free will nullifies the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God.
10. If there is a God, why does He choose to hid Himself? Why not just simply show Himself, like He supposedly did in The Bible?

Now that we have the comparisons listed, let us discuss them. Like a jigsaw puzzle, let us put the pieces together and make sense of all this apparent confusion. To do so we must simplify the conflicting theories. In order to do that, the principle of simplification derived from the medieval philosopher William Ockham can be applied. According to Ockham, if there are two competing theories, both of which account for all observable data, the simpler of the two is the preferable theory. This principle is called Ockham’s razor. Upon this principle we will examine the prepositions set forth by beginning with its definitions and then as we move along, they will be discussed.

1. General Arguments For the Existence of God

The big questions here are: Are there any good reasons for believing in God’s existence or non-existence? What kind of God exists or does not exist? What are the implications of God’s existence or non-existence for humans?

It looks as though every culture that has ever flourished has had some concept of divinity. Of course, it doesn’t follow from that fact that therefore there is a divinity (any more than the fact that every culture believes itself to be superior to its neighbors means that every culture is superior to its neighbors). Still, the mere cultural universality of religious belief is an impressive fact. The question “Why do so many people believe in God or god’s?” Is a very complicated one because it entangles us in a thicket of psychological, sociological, anthropological, and philosophical – not to mention purely religious – issues.

Is this just a coincidence? Or is religious belief a natural psychological defense mechanism against the difficulties that life inevitably throws at us? Or is there some truth to this widespread illusion, delusion, or reality? A reality beyond the physical world and beyond our senses or blank slate. In chapter one we shall be primarily interested in the philosophical issues, which means that we will attend to the kinds of arguments to consider when asking whether there are any good reasons to believe or disbelieve in the existence of God or god’s

2. The Cosmological Argument

The Cosmological Argument can be divided into three categories: The cosmological argument, the argument from contingency, and the Kalama cosmological argument. The Cosmological Argument is an attempt to establish God’s existence by deducing it from observable facts and data in the world. For example, Thomas Aquinas’s claim that from the observation of causal chains in the world we can deduce necessity of a “first cause,” or God.

3. The Teleological Argument

An attempt to deduce God’s existence from the fact that there is purposeful behavior in nature on the part of non-intelligent beings. Other such examples are the laws of the universe, nature, and that of the body and all its functional parts. Therefore, it is far more plausible, and far more probable, that the universe is the way it is because it was created by God with life in mind. And that upon such a life, a meaningful purpose is carried out in a pre-ordained odyssey.

4. The Ontological Argument

An attempt to prove God’s existence by showing that, from the very concept of God, His existence can be deduced. In other words, it is an argument that attempts to prove the existence of God through abstract reasoning alone. This argument has been defended by a number of religious philosophers in the Platonic tradition. It was first formulated by St. Anselm and appears in one form or another in the work of Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, and Hegel. It has some able twentieth – century defenders (e.g. Charles Hartshorne and Norman Malcolm). But it has been rejected by some notables too, including St. Thomas. And in the secular school of thought, other notables include; Hume, Kant, and Kierkegaard.

5. Planting’s Warranted Christian Belief

Alvin Planting’s trilogy on the notion of warrant, defines that which distinguishes knowledge from true belief. In other words Planting examines warrant’s role in theistic belief, by asking the questions of whether it is rational, reasonable, justifiable, and warranted to accept religious belief and whether there is something epistemic ally unacceptable in doing so. He contends that religious beliefs are warranted due to the fact that to they are formed by properly functioning cognitive faculties. Therefore, since a functional governing body exists, its beliefs contained therein is good knowledge, provided if this good knowledge is true to begin with.

6. The Moral Argument or Ethics

The topic of morality can be divided into 3 categories: The moral argument, The formal moral argument, and The perfectionist moral argument. Moral philosophy: the branch of philosophy that answers questions such as: Is there a thing as the Good? What is “the good life”? Is there such a thing as absolute duty? Are valid moral arguments possible? Are moral judgments based only on preference?

7. The Problem of Evil

The first step in answering the problem of evil is this: We’ve got to get clear on what this thing “evil” actually is. It does seem to follow that if God created all things, and evil is a thing, then God created evil. This is a valid syllogism. If the premises are true, then the conclusion would be true as well.

The problem with that line of reasoning is that the second premise is not true. Evil is not a thing. The person who probably explained it best was St. Augustine, and then Thomas Aquinas picked up on his solution. Others since them have argued that evil has no ontological status in itself.

The word ontology deals with the nature of existence. When I say that evil has no ontological status, I mean that evil, as a thing in itself, does not exist. But its evidence is seen nonetheless.

Let me give you an illustration to make this more clear. We talk about things being cold or warm. But coldness is not a thing that exists in itself; it has no ontological status. Coldness is the absence of heat. When we remove heat energy from a system, we say it gets colder. “Cold” isn’t a thing. It’s a way of describing the reduction of molecular activity resulting in the sensation of heat. So the more heat we pull out of a system, the colder it gets. Cold itself isn’t being “created.” Cold is a description of a circumstance in which heat is missing. Heat is energy which can be measured. When you remove heat, the temperature goes down. We call that condition “cold,” but there is no cold “stuff” that causes that condition.

Here’s another way of looking at it. Did you ever eat a donut hole? I don’t mean those little round sugar-coated lumps you buy at the donut shop. I mean the hole itself. Donut holes are actually what’s left when the middle is cut out of a donut. There’s a space called a hole, a “nothing,” the condition that exists when something is taken away. Same thing with a shadow. Shadows don’t exist as things in themselves; they’re just the absence of light. Yet, again as stated, the overwhelming evidence for evil exists.

8. Pascal’s Wager

Blaise Pascal (1623–1662) was a French philosopher and mathematician. He contributed to the development of hydraulics and calculus, but he is most remembered for what has come to be known as “Pascal’s Wager.”

A school of thought indicating ‘self interest.’ It is more safer to believe in a God than not too. Adherents to this approach tend to believe it is in their best interest to believe in a deity for their common welfare, prosperity, and general well being. Statements such as “If I believe in God, I have everything to gain; Heaven, infinite rewards, etc. But, if I don’t, I have the potential of losing everything” If it turns out that He doesn’t exist, then I lose little or nothing, and gain nothing. I would end up the same way like every other person. But, if He does exist, then I would gain everything…and it would not have been in vain. It is therefore in our best interests, and so rational, to believe in God.

9. Freewill vs Determinism

Freedom Exists if there are such things as free acts and free agents, that is if some acts are performed in such a way that the authors of those acts could legitimately be held responsible for them. Some philosophers (called Libertarians) say that these acts do exist, that some acts are freely chosen from among genuine alternatives, and that therefore Determinism is false. (I did ‘X‘, but under exactly the same circumstances, I could have done Y instead. Therefore ‘X’ was a free act”) Other Philosophers (called Soft Determinists) also say that free acts exist but in define ‘free acts’ not in terms of genuine alternative choices but in terms of voluntary acts (“I wanted to do ‘X’ and I did do ‘X;’ therefore ‘X’ was a free act”). Still philosophers (called Hard Determinists), while agreeing with the definition of “free act” given by libertarians, deny that any such free acts or agents exist.

Freedom is difficult to understand to say the least. Moreover, what is more difficult to understand is liberation, or how to become free. The concept or reality of being un-free and the freedom to obtain liberation presents a paradox. A paradox which many philosophers and theologians seem to depict in the process of liberation: It seems paradoxical to expect the un-free to use the freedom they lack to liberate themselves.

Are philosophers who make this demand simply confused? Isn’t it unfair to demand that the un-free free themselves? Even the scriptures attest to its implications by declaring that we are slaves to sin (Rom 6:20, 7:16-20, Gal 5:16-17) and therefore can not liberate our selves because we constantly commit the reality of the bad. Some would argue that the reality of the bad/evil is just a concept, an illusion, so to speak. If that was the case, why does this concept/illusion constantly leave evidential footprints in the sand for all to see. The evidential footprints of war, violence, hunger, disease, and death. When we examine these questions and look upon them more closely, we will find that the book sitting on the mantle collecting dust contains many philosophical prepositions. It is not just a book based upon a religious ideology, one of clichés and stories, but it is also a collection of books that contain the spiritual and philosophical aspect and present condition of man and his mind as revealed by the Eternal Mind – The Logos – (John 1:1). It is a book that actually teaches us that we are bound, and un-free. Un free that is until that very same Logos, as revealed in the incarnation, came to set captivity free (John 1:14, I Tim 3:16).

The question of freedom is important for two reasons. Exegetically, it is important because the philosophers who imply that we must be free in order to become free do not always seem to realize that they imply this paradoxical position. In the broader scope of metaphysics, the complexity of freedom and of the means of acquiring it may by the act of divine intervention.

10. The Hiddenness of God/The Jesus Evidence – Discussed In the Category; “Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit”

But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west I do not find him.
When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;
when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.
Job 23:8-9

The atheist Norwood Hanson makes his case against the theist as follows in his essay “What I Do Not Believe”:

“God exists’ could in principle be established for all factually-it just happens not to be, certainly not for everyone! Suppose, however, that next Tuesday morning, just after breakfast, all of us in this one world are knocked to our knees by a percussive and ear-shattering thunderclap. Snow swirls; leaves drop from the trees; the earth heaves and buckles; buildings topple and towers tumble; the sky is ablaze with an eerie, silvery light. Just then, as all the people of this world look up, the heavens open-the clouds pull apart-revealing an unbelievably immense and radiant-like Zeus figure, towering above us like a hundred Everest’s. He frowns darkly as lightening plays across the features of his Michelangeloid face. He then points down- at me!-and explains, for every man and child to hear: ‘I have had quite enough of your too-clever logic-chopping and word-watching in matters of theology. Be assured, N.R. Hanson, that I most certainly do exist.” “Please do not dismiss this as a playful, irreverent Disney-oid contrivance. The conceptual point here is that if such a remarkable event were to occur, I for one should certainly be convinced that God does exist. That matter of fact would have been settled once and for all time…That God exists would, through this encounter, have been confirmed for me and for everyone else in a manner every bit as direct as that involved in any non-controversial factual claim”. (Norwood Russell Hanson, What I Do Not Believe And Other Essays, New York: Humanities Press, 1971, pp.313-314.)

The argument is made even more forcefully by Nietzsche in the following selection:

“A god who is all-knowing and all powerful and who does not even make sure his creatures understand his intention-could that be a god of goodness? Who allows countless doubts and dubities to persist, for thousands of years, as though the salvation of mankind were unaffected by them, and who on the other hand holds out the prospect of frightful consequences if any mistake is made as to the nature of truth? Would he not be a cruel god if he possessed the truth and could behold mankind miserably tormenting itself over the truth? – But perhaps he is a god of goodness notwithstanding-and merely could express himself more clearly! Did he perhaps lack the intelligence to do so? Or the eloquence? So much the worse! For then he was perhaps also in error as to that which he calls his ‘truth’, and is himself not so very far from being the ‘poor deluded devil’! Must he not then endure almost the torments of Hell to have to see his creatures suffer so, and go on suffering even more through all eternity, for the sake of knowledge of him, and not be able to help and counsel them, except in the manner of a deaf and dumb man making all kinds of ambiguous signs when the most fearful danger is about to befall on his child or his dog? – A believer who reaches this oppressive conclusion ought truly to be forgiven if he feels more pity for this suffering god than he does for his ‘neighbors’ – for they are no longer his neighbors if that most solitary and most primeval being is also the most suffering being of all and the most in need of comfort. – All religions exhibit traces of the fact that they owe their origin to an early, immature intellectuality in man – they all take astonishingly lightly the duty to tell the truth: they as yet know nothing of a Duty of God to be truthful towards mankind and clear in the manner of his communications. – On the ‘hidden God’, and on the reasons for thus keeping himself hidden and never going more than halfway into the light of speech, no one has been more eloquent than Pascal – a sign that he was never able to calm his mind on this matter: but his voice rings as confidently as if he had at one time sat behind the curtain with this hidden god. He sensed a piece of immortality in this ‘deus absconditus’ and was very fearful and ashamed of admitting it to himself: and thus, the one who is afraid, he talked as loudly as he could”. (Freidrich Nietzsche, ,Daybreak, trans. R.J. Hollingdale, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982, pp. 89-90.)

Upon this, the theist is left to explain this hiddenness, to explain this heavenly silence. The concept of a hidden God can be quite disconcerting to say the least. Job realized this disconcerting feeling when he discovered that he couldn’t find God, that is until the end, as the story of Job indicates. But to indicate an existence of God based upon stories handed down is like looking for Santa’s footprints on a snow covered rooftop. Even if the theist were to claim that the stories were given by divine inspiration would prove nothing, because we didn’t see it happen. Similarly, this question is put forth in the epic film entitled ‘The Ten Commandments.’ In the ten Commandments, the renegade Hebrew named ‘Dathen’ asks Moses, who is now come down from Mt Zion, having received God’s law through divine revelation a question of doubt. Upon Moses’ decent from the mountain, Dathen (who would rather return to Egypt and not follow Moses) asked the Lawgiver…“Moses, did you carve those tablets to become a prince over us? We will not live by your Law, we are free!”

Another critic put forth the question as such…why God doesn’t place a glowing cross in the sky at night to serve as irrefutable proof of Jesus’ resurrection? One could extend this line of thought further and ask why God doesn’t have His own television channel and toll-free “hotline”? Taken from the movie ‘Contact.’ However, in Sagan’s book entitled ‘Cosmos,’ Sagan had no choice but to ask the ultimate question “If we wish to courageously pursue the question, we must, of course ask the next question, “where did God come from?” And if we decide this to be unanswerable , why not save a step and decide that the origin of the universe is an unanswerable question? Or if we say that God has always existed, why not save a step and conclude that the universe always existed? (‘Cosmos,’ ch 10, pg 257).

In his argument, Sagan has a legitimate point. This question should be addressed seriously, and, as we do so in this brief discussion, I think we will find that the answer is more profound than many realize, similar to that of Dickens classic ‘A Christmas Carol’

“You don’t believe in me,” observed Marley’s Ghost.
“I don’t,” said Scrooge.
“What evidence would you have of my reality beyond that of your senses?”
”I don’t know,” said Scrooge.
“Why do you doubt your senses?”
”Because,” said Scrooge, “a little thing affects them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheat. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than grave about you, whatever you are.”

A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.

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