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Some Thoughts on God

August 9th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

I haven’t done a good philosophical musing in a while, and yesterday I had one worth writing down.

Occasionally I’ll write a blog post and spend the rest of the day worrying about how certain people might react to certain parts. For example, I’m currently a bit worried that Lena might decide to read what I wrote about the lefty protest she invited me to on Saturday and be offended by some of the less-than-flattering things I said about her fellow protesters. Like, did I really have to call them “living stereotypes”? (If you are reading this, Lena, I hope we’re still cool.)

But in the same post I mentioned in passing how I’d gone to Lena’s costume party last year dressed as Jesus and got completely trashed. If a believer were to read that they’d no doubt blink twice and read it again to make sure they read it right. Who is this guy? Dressing up as Jesus and making an ass of himself…how much more blasphemous can you get? This guy is definitely going to Hell.

I got to thinking about how I would respond to the charge. How can I be sure God doesn’t exist? That Jesus isn’t his son? That God wouldn’t be horribly offended that I’d commit such an egregious sin against the person He sent to die for my sins?

The truth is I’m not worried at all. While I definitely lean atheist I’m still open to the possibility that some kind of entity which could justifiably be called “God” might exist. In particular, I find the idea of a ‘universal consciousness’ rather appealing—the idea that one singular entity is the subject of all awareness in the universe, that it lives every lifetime as every conscious life-form and absorbs all experience within itself.

If this being exists, would it really care about some guy dressed as Jesus puking all over a bar? Such an assertion would be nonsensical if you believe in the sort of God I described above. It only makes sense if you believe in the Biblical God—the jealous, wrathful, vengeful God who punishes the slightest disrespect with eternal damnation.

This Biblical God, I am 99.99999999999999999999999999999% certain, does not exist and couldn’t possibly exist. When you consider the unfathomable grandeur of the cosmos—hundreds of billions of stars clustered into hundreds of billions of galaxies scattered across an ever-expanding void of incalculable size and scope, each tiny clump of matter a universe in itself composed of protons, electrons, quarks and gluons locked in an eternal dance from which all reality springs—and then you read, “When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged. But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money” (Exodus 21:20-21)….well it just doesn’t jive, does it?

Are you telling me the same being that said, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22) is the same being that constructed the universe? Sorry, that just sounds absurd to me.

Maybe someone who both believes in the Bible and acknowledges the truth of Astronomy can tell me how one reconciles this, because to me they seem irreconcilable. It would seem to me that the only way to deal with it is never to think about both things at the same time.

But how can you avoid it? How can you believe that Man has such special significance in the universe when you know how old and how large the universe is?

Just consider what a tiny fraction of Existence is made up by human experience. If you add up the experiences of every human being who has ever lived over the past 6,000 years (as Scripture is said to begin around 4,000 B.C.) it would still be a mere fraction of the sum total of all human experience over the last three million years, which is roughly when homo sapiens appeared on the scene. And even if you include the sum total of all human experiences stretching back to the prehistoric days of tribal, cave-dwelling humans, this amount of time still pales in comparison to the total experience of all life-forms that have occupied the earth over the past two to four billion years (depending on when you believe consciousness emerged). And of course we’re still only talking about earth, when it’s almost certain that conscious life-forms have evolved on other worlds as well—and with hundreds of trillions of planets upon which life might have arisen, that adds up to a whole hell of a lot of non-human experience that God has supposedly created. Not to mention all of the things He created that don’t have subjective experience—presumably such things are a part of His awareness as well.

To think that God not only cares about what each and every individual human being to live for a fraction of an eye-blink on a minuscule speck of dust circling one of a trillion stars in His universe does, but that He would react with such petty human emotions as anger, offense, or disgust—it’s just nonsensical to me. I might be willing to consider that in His omniscience He cares about each and every human being, but that He responds with feelings like jealousy or impatience is something I just can’t buy.

If God created me and experiences all that I experience, He must understand me as well as I understand myself. He must know why I don’t believe in Him. He must know why I have no qualms about poking fun at the religions set up to worship Him. He must understand as well as I do that if my lack of belief or reverence—which is a direct result of contemplating the very universe He created—is punished with eternal damnation, that would be an injustice of the most egregious sort.

So if I do wind up in Hell, at least I won’t feel guilty. The moral error will be God’s—not mine. To demand faith in a human-like creator God from a being within a universe that looks nothing like anything a human-like God would create is simply unjustifiable.

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