A3dtot, welcome to the Forum, and congratulations on your lovely new granddaughter!
I am here at this forum to get an atheist point of view. I am fully prepared for any arguments.
One of the biggest problems I have are the attacks I recieve from the religous side. My take on a creator is not really accepted by most christians so I thought who better to ask than atheist. Hopefully I will be able to strengthen my understanding and open myself to new ideas.
I would like to begin by directing your attention to the fact that your version of "God" is not accepted by most Christians (and I might add, by most Muslims, Wiccans, Asatruar, Mormons, Sikhs, etc., etc., etc.). Notice that you haven't got any way to show
that "your take" is correct and theirs are wrong--and neither do they. This is an inescapable fact, for you and all the other believers out there. Please keep it in mind as we continue.
I won't get into how I know God exist but for me it is not an issue of whether I believe it or not, it simply is true for me. I did not come about this belief through religous means. In general God is a being of perfect love and all things are done in order to achieve the enlightenment of his (God is neither male nor female just can't call him it) creations. I have no issues with evolution, astronomy or any other of the sciences as I am a fan of all. What matters to what I call the "Real God" is based in the emotional part of our existence and not in the physical.
Note the parts of your post I bolded above. The first is a statement of wholly subjective opinion--"for me" is the key phrase. If you had said "it simply is true," period, the statement would have had a completely different meaning. The second statement I emphasized seems to be trying to drizzle your deity in a sauce of objective existence--the 'Real God,' presumably in contrast to all the fake ones. But notice how that's preceded by the phrase "what I call
." If a given deity is actually
real, out there
in, you know, reality
, then it doesn't matter if you or I call it Realtm or not.
S/he/It exists anyway. Likewise, if a given deity does not exist, it still
doesn't matter if you or I call it Realtm
or not. The "Real" you're inserting here isn't an actual claim about objective reality, it's only meant to have the flavor and heft of such, without the belief having to actually having to pay its freight in anticipated consequences.
Have you ever noticed that no one ever says something like "For me, thermodynamics permits perpetual motion machines" or "My Real Principle of Action and Reaction says that force equals 1.5 times acceleration" or "My Real Paris has three Eiffel Towers?" That's because when it comes to things that are actually real, the person making the claim is irrelevant. Reality is that which, when we stop believing in it, doesn't go away (Phillip K. Dick). Now it's true that the fallibility of human perception means that we all perceive reality differently. One person may recall the bank robber as tall, another as fat, but the security camera footage is definitive. We were able to determine that human perception is fallible and that our perceptions can differ by comparing our perceptions to instrumental detection and/or using experimental protocols designed to let reality impose itself on our perceptions
. Or to put it another way, we know what a mirage is because we can compare it to real bodies of water. If I have $300.00 in my bank account, it doesn't matter whether it's me checking my balance or somebody else. If there are no deposits or withdrawals or bank charges, the balance will be $300.00. It's not as if I can say, "What I call my Real Bank Balance is $300 million, but the bank teller and my accountant don't accept my take." Or at least if I did, it would be obvious that I'm being foolish.
So, when you're talking about your take on what you like to call the 'Real God,' you're not telling us anything about "God," you're telling us about you
. And likewise for all the other believers and their takes on what they like to call the 'Real God/Goddess/Gods.' In a snappy acronym, SPAG.
I fully accept that there is no physical proof of God,
Do you see what you're doing here? You're anticipating
, in advance, that Universe will behave exactly as we would expect it to, if "God" did not exist.
When it comes to how you model the behavior of reality, your model does not contain a "God." You're sticking your neck out and making a prediction that you and I live in a godless Universe, and that reality will behave accordingly. Naturally, we atheists have the exact same expectation. If you thought "God" was real in the same way you think that, say, evolution by natural selection is real, you could not make that kind of prediction. A real, personal, volitional god could surprise
you, by deciding to behave as if it exists. But on some level, you already know
that isn't going to happen. Welcome to atheism. C'mon in, the water's fine.
as a matter of fact, the lack of physical proof is of absolute importance to the understanding of what is known as God's will.
What you're doing now is attempting to explain why the purported existence of the "God" you'd like to believe in is identical in every possible way with its non-existence. This is a way to allow yourself to wear the attire of belief
in a god without actually expecting it to exist. Your
god is pure and perfectly loving (not hating, like those other
people's gods), gender-neutral (not patriarchal and male), doesn't hate gays, doesn't reject science, and (my guess from what you've said so far) isn't a Republican. It's like a team jersey that identifies you as nice, moderate-progressive, tolerant, and clear-thinking, but still a Person of Faithtm
with the lovely rainbow-sparkle halo of devotion, "spirituality" and social acceptability that provides.
But notice that your "God" du jour can't do anything more
than that, at all.
There is not one fact about reality that it can explain better than its non-existence can. If offers not one iota of greater understanding, to you or anyone else. It can't offer any other advantages, like a reduced chance of being in a car accident or dying in a fire or increased odds of your stock picks rising, or anything else along those lines. The only observable benefits it offers are those linked to being part of Team NiceGod (membership in your church community if you have one, the comfort of being able to tell yourself that you'll see your deceased loved ones again in A Better Placetm
, being able to fit in in a majority-theist society and so on). Those benefits may make it worth it to you to profess the belief, but they have no relation to whether or not the god exists or doesn't exist out there in real Universe.
If there is physical proof
First of all, let's drop the term "physical." It carries connotations of a pre-quantum mechanical, Cartesian understanding of reality that isn't accurate or helpful. I.e., there's this "physical" stuff, the crude matter over here on the insignificant/meaningless/"mere" side of the ledger, and the "non-physical" stuff (mind, love, "spirit," consciousness, faeries, sprites, gods, angels, the Force, etc.) over there on the lovely, sparkly side of the ledger. It turns out that "matter" is a pattern integrity of interacting energy, and it's not the sort of stuff people imagined it to be when our major religions were being invented. If the ancients had understood quantum mechanics, they'd have had to move the "physical" stuff over to the sparkly side of the ledger. If they'd understood neuroscience, they'd have had to acknowledge that the mental/"spiritual" stuff all belongs in the same pile. Turns out, it's all
sparkly stuff, all the way down.
Second, "proof" is for mathematicians and the makers of alcoholic beverages. So, let us instead take the approach that asks, "Does Reality behave as if [insert "God" or any other proposed addition to our inventory of understanding here] exists?" Notice how this approach doesn't care if we're talking about "physical" or "spiritual" entities, or if there's even a distinction between one and the other. In order to ask and answer this question, we need to be able to map out anticipated consequences of the entity's existence, vs. the anticipated consequences of its non-existence. If a maximally accurate understanding of Reality is our goal, this step is crucial. All of the great scientific discoveries took place because scientists were able to stipulate in advance the experimental results they would expect if [evolution by natural selection/relativity/the existence of sub-atomic particles/the Big bang/the viability of transistors as a technology/etc., etc.] was real vs. what they would expect if [repeat insertion here] was not real. Furthermore, they could agree
, prior to making the observations, which set of anticipated consequences would validate or falsify which understanding of reality. Because of this, scientists were able to deliberately set up their experiments or observations to actually test
their hypotheses and let Reality itself
, rather than their individual biases and preferences, decide who was right.
That's how, and why, science works.
The deliberate and willful avoidance of this kind of process is also why theology doesn't
of God then there would be no choice. Free will is the most important part of our existence, because what I understand is that we must choose to love correctly in order for us to have the salvation that such beliefs are supposed to bring about.
Please notice how this approach attempts to invert the relationship between the things we have a choice about, and the things we don't. First, it seeks to offer a "choice" ("free will") on the issue of whether or not "God" (in this case, the one you're proposing) exists or not. This is precisely the issue on which we don't
have any choice. "God" exists, or it doesn't. Whether we like it or not. What's true is already so. Owning up to it won't make it any worse. Reality isn't optional. That's what makes it 'Reality'.
If we want to know what's real and what isn't, then we need to approach the issue in a way that, as much as possible, eliminates all issues of our choices, preferences, biases, and the like
and lets Reality "speak for itself." Only then can we update
our mental models (belief sets, predictions of how we expect reality to behave, etc.) to reflect Reality ever more closely. It's how we become Less Wrong.
The other half of this inverted approach is the assumption that, as soon as we "choose" to "believe" that a given god/goddess/pantheon/whatever exists, that we will leap automatically to love, worship, and obedience, without
any choice in how we evaluate
the deity/pantheon. It's taken as a given that one could not accept that a deity exists, and not want to join its religion. But that, right there, is the key area where our choice would actually matter. That is where any god that was real and wanted to respect our "free will" would do so. All such a god would have to do is: Not Be A Rapist
. If there's a woman with whom I'd like to have a loving relationship, I don't have to arrange things so that she could flip a coin on the question of whether I exist
or not. To the contrary, insuring that she has no uncertainty on that issue is the inescapably necessary first step. To respect her "free will," I simply take 'no' for an answer.
Or if I'm fortunate, 'yes.'
The purpose of this inversion is twofold: First, to deprive people of the ability to think critically and understand Reality accurately (so that the pronouncements of some preacher, theologian, guru, or other exponent of theological bafflegab is equal to the most rigorously-validated scientific discovery). Second, to bully and/or emotionally manipulate people into obedience to same preacher/theologian/guru. See: Pascal's Wager. Once in place, it allows a devious substitution of morality
for epistemological accuracy
, so that disbelief in a religion can be treated not as a legitimate disagreement about what's real, but as a crime
. Hence, the whole panoply of divine wrath and Judgment Days and devils and Hells and Inquisitions and heresy hunts and all the rest. This simultaneously immunizes the priest's claims from rational critique and gives him the power to impose his will by force (real or imaginary).
Just to be clear, I'm not accusing you of doing this deliberately. This "free will argument" has been in use by theologians and priests for centuries before you were ever born, so it's just a part of the furniture of religion. My purpose in pointing this out is to dissect the meme and demonstrate to you how it works, so that you will now hopefully be in a better position to free yourself from its clutches--and understand why we don't buy into it.