For years after leaving the absurdity of Evangelicalism, I considered the possibility of a personal god. Upon each periodical rational search for this possible personal god, I’ve had to conclude that, if he does exist, he certainly does not want to be found through rational means. Unfortunately, I find myself unwilling to give up rationality since I recognized that the moment irrational belief is admitted, any absurdity may be believed. Therefore a personal god remains, based on my access to relevant evidence, highly unlikely.
I’ve also considered the possibility of an impersonal god that set the universe and its laws into motion. This has been far more possible in my mind. At times, I’ve even considered it probable. But at no time did I consider it conclusive, and wanting my beliefs to fall in line with the evidence, I’ve refused to make the ontological commitment to a “first cause”. The following represents my position on the god question last year.
While observing the recent debate about the necessity for a “first cause”, I began to notice theists misrepresenting the positions and distorting the words of physicists and cosmologists. The following are just a couple of the ways theists attempt to take science hostage.
- Claims that there is a consensus among cosmologists that the universe had a “beginning”.
I’ve read a bit on cosmology, so I do know that when cosmologists use the word “beginning”, they are most commonly speaking about something far different than the state of nothingness that theists need to posit the need for a “first cause”. This bald equivocation seemed to be committed consciously since even a cursory examination of the literature reveals that cosmologists most frequently suggest that everything came from everything at “t = 0”. In addition, the cosmologists that I read did not write with the dogmatism that showed up later in (often erroneous) theistic re-writes of their hypotheses. This warped representation of physicists’ opinions is certainly not very flattering to theists who claim their god provides them with a superior moral compass.
Fortunately, I have several friends who are actual physicists. They have recently assured me that there is no such consensus among physicists on the nature of the “beginning” of the universe. Most physicists, if holding positions, are far below the dogmatism of amateur christian physicists who are shamelessly attempting to distort the facts to conjure up their favorite deity. This new information has me sliding nearer the “no god” category of possibilities.
- Claims that it is impossible for something to emerge from nothing.
That something could emerge from nothings seems counter-intuitive to me. But so do many concepts within quantum theory. Quantum theory has been vetted substantially, and has provided predictive power. The physicists who study quantum theory have demonstrated excellent track records of rigorous science and discovery. My own lack of understanding on counter-intuitive quantum concepts is certainly a foolish reason to reject a healthy consensus among physicists, and is a silly foundation from which to launch an attack on hypotheses that reputable cosmologists are currently proposing. Yet, this has not stopped many theists who, in complete ignorance of the necessary mathematics and conceptual frameworks, accept or dismiss notions with the dogmatism that is nowhere to be seen among the actual cosmologists. I would suggest this does indeed speak something (not positive) to the veracity of the religions of those particular theists who cannot restrain themselves to accurately reflect the minds of others if the god of their religion is not pleased with dishonesty. So, for a long time, I reserved judgment on the counter-intuitive notion of something emerging from nothing, since I knew that I did not know enough to arrive at a warranted conclusion. Conclusions ought to be based on understanding and evidence.
Recently, Stephen Hawking has concluded that there is no need to posit a “first cause”. While the word of a single scientist never warrants certainty, given Hawking’s track record, his conclusion deserves attention.
Hawking had previously referred to the “mind of God”, and theists fell all over themselves to apply the quote to their particular favorite god. Is there no intellectual integrity at all among theists? As someone hoping for the best from my fellow humans, it would be nice if I could read theists’ citations of scientific literature without suspecting that it has most probably been distorted. Is this too much to ask?
Based upon my search over the past year, this is where I am today.
I don’t discount the possibility of a personal god. I simply require evidence. But theists are shooting themselves in the foot with their dishonesty, then calling the wound stigmata, a miracle performed by their particular god. Would a god with a moral standard be found in souls so dishonest? It’s unlikely.
To conclude, allow me to introduce a couple of quotes from theists in response to my posting of a link to Hawking’s opinion. Though I’ve made my lack of dogmatism crystal clear, here is what they had to say.
It’s official now, God didn’t create the universe. Lord Hawkings on his throne has thus declared it. His followers willingly believe his every word as truth. He is divine, receiving his answers from his highly developed brain. His followers will quote from scripture-page 64 paragraph 2, page 211 paragraph 3-he will be taught from the pulpit in all public meeting places.
I’m building an altar as we speak so I can bow in humility to his superior intellect and worship this new type of “supreme being”. He knows all.
I guess they’ll have to dishonestly misrepresent my position now that Hawking has put his own out of reach.