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On the bus today, a parent scolded a child for chewing on part of the seat because there were germs on it. And an idea suddenly struck me. A common criticism of atheists against religious people is that religion teaches people to believe in invisible things. But germs are only visible through a tool, a microscope. And some things, like atoms, can only be seen as vague blobs on the most powerful microscopes. We have little evidence, aside from the effects, of things like electrons. And we have, as far as I know of, no evidence at all of quantum-level particles. Even if we do, if quantum physics is to be believed (and I think it is), we can't even be sure of what evidence we do have because reality seems to shape itself according to observer preferences. (Or, if you prefer another model, it can be said that we can't be sure of our evidence because our brains see – for the most part – what we expect them to see, and at any rate our brains are easily fooled and rather limited).

Before people had the tools to see germs, there were many wild theories about what caused disease. Same was true of what causes rainbows, before we had the tools to know the truth. So I wonder how anyone can discount the idea of a God/Universal Consciousness/Whatever just on the basis that we don't have the tools to see it? Given what we know of our brains, of history, and of science, I find it rather silly to assume that just because we don't have the tools to see God, that It doesn't exist. Atheism doesn't seem very scientific to me. Agnosticism, yes; in the lack of observable evidence, none of us can know for sure what God is like, we can only have ideas. All I really personally believe about God is that It exists, the rest is ideas. Maybe my ideas are as crazy as anyone else's. But science speculates all the time; for all we know, scientific models may have no bearing on reality at all; maybe the nature of our consciousness is making the universe conform (or seem to conform) to the way our minds work. Maybe we're only equipped to see a small sliver of a massively chaotic universe that only appears to have order to us because human brains are equipped to find patterns in things. There could be all kinds of things going on around us that we've no clue about because our brains either can't see it or filter it out.

So in short, though I have friends who are atheists, I really don't understand the atheist point of view. I don't think it's as big a conceit to disbelieve in God as it is to believe one knows all there is to know about God, but I still think it's a rather human-centric belief. “God can't be experienced with my limited senses, so It must not exist.” Why not remain open to the possibility?


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 1st, 2009 12:51 pm (UTC)
I agree with you that scientifically, agnosticism has the firmest footing.

And a big problem for the existence of God is less the inability to see Him than His allowance of the kinds of regular barbarism that was so much of human civilization in the past and if thought about for too long is much that way today. I fail sometimes to see how the standard Monotheistic idea of a single deity who is the embodiment of perfection and justice can co-exist with a world even like today's where for instance billions starve while here in the world's richest economy almost half of all food produced is wasted.
Dec. 6th, 2009 05:51 am (UTC)
I very much appreciate your point of view on this. I was raised in a secular environment; I was at liberty to pursue my own spiritual interests, but frankly I didn't have any. Even when I got to college, I was mostly wrapped up in social interactions, not spiritual pursuits. But several of my friends were of the squishy pagan variety, so I did develop some curiosity about Deity and subtle energy and such things.

It really wasn't until Betty came into my life that I truly understood what it was to have spiritual aims, to truly have faith in something, and to see that faith rewarded. And I've since spoken with friends who have pretty much been lifelong atheists, for the simple reason that based on their own scientific observations of the world, they see no evidence of God or His place in it. And I try to describe to them what I've seen and felt regarding Betty, and it's just not enough, because they haven't seen and felt it.

On some level, faith is a necessary thing for God and spirit to work in one's life, I think.

(Hello, BTW, courtesy of a pointer from 20splinters... she mentioned you making a post regarding a culture identifying multiple genders, which I'm now looking for...)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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