Monday, January 1, 2007

Neither a believer nor a disser be

Over the past couple of weeks, there's been quite the exchange of letters in the National Post from atheists and believers.

I don't know if the agnostic set has weighed in yet but it's always been interesting to me that most people either wholeheartedly accept or reject the notion of God or some superior intellect/form/being.

To this day, my father still tells the story of when I was in Grade One and we were asked to cut out a turkey and then write something about Thanksgiving on it. I wrote, "Thanksgiving is the day you give thanks to God, if you believe in him." My outlook hasn't much changed in all the years since.

I'd like to say I have faith that there is a God but I don't. I know some religious people who are truly at peace with themselves and practise their faith with all the grace and goodness that God, if there is one, would surely have wanted. I think they are able to take great comfort in their faith because for them life isn't some fruitless, hedonistic pursuit that ends in an equally meaningless death.

If not faith, then it would probably be nice to reject God altogether. After all, if you have nothing to fear from an afterlife because there is no afterlife, then you might as well just go for the best ride you can find during this life.

Atheists primarily point to science and reason as their basis for rejecting God, saying that the God story is built on myths and the better humans get at scientific research and discovery, the more of those myths we dispel. They are partially right but science can't explain everything. For instance: the Big Bang Theory explains how the Universe became what it is but it can't explain where the stuff that was in the Big Bang came from (at least not to any degree that I understand).

Two things I really do despise are zealots of all religions along with those who try to pass religion off as science. I don't know that I've ever heard a "theory" as stupid as intelligent design which is just a bogus way of trying to introduce creationism into the classroom.

I've got news for the ID putzes: if there is intelligent design than Earth was one of the early failures because even its most advanced species (us) is an inefficient machine requiring one-third down time (sleep) and massive amounts of fuel (food and drink). On top of that, we can't survive outside of a very tiny band of temperatures and chemical compositions and are prone to any number of breakdowns. We're the fucking Ladas of the ID chain and in any real universe would have long been sent to the junkyard in favour of a Cadillac, a used Honda or even a Segway.

Anyway, my theory is that if there is a God, then God would probably want us to live as decent people who try not to screw anyone else around too much. I don't think there's a lot of mystery about that: almost all of us are imbued with a sense of right and wrong and the bottom line is if you're doing something that is negatively impacting others for no reason than your own personal gain, you're doing wrong.

If there is no God, we should nevertheless keep to the same standard of leading our lives. It can't hurt.


Bacon Eating Atheist Jew said...

God would probably want us to live as decent people who try not to screw anyone else around too much.
That is called evolution of common sense. If we evolved an innateness to kill, rape and steal from our own tribesman, we wouldn't be here today. There wouldn't be anyone left to mate with. We are hardwired to be decent in these ways, of course there are exceptions.

I think the answers science give replace the answers religions give in some cases, they also prove literal bibles are wrong, and this leads Atheists to realize that if the books were tampered with, God's word was invented. If God's word was invented, there is no evidence of God's existence other than gaps.

Science has been filling in the gaps for many years now. Back in the bible days, lightning was the big question is where did the stuff come from during the Big Bang....I think theories are out there now, and pretty soon that will be answered pretty much conclusively.
There are pretty good theories on how life got started that weren't around even in the 60's.

southfield_2001 said...

I still think we're hardwired for violence, wino, because it's all about survival of the fittest in our genes.
Other than that, I don't disagree with your post.
It is possible that science will eventually answer all of the many questions we have about why we're here, how we got here and what happens after we die.
Until then, I reserve judgment and try to lead a moral life according to the simple tenets I outlined.
As for "literal bibles", they're basically a pile of stories handed down over centuries and are no more reliable as a source of fact than a game of telephone on the playground, IMO.

Bacon Eating Atheist Jew said...

I didn't say we are hardwired for violence, I said if we were, we wouldn't be here today.

We are hardwired to seek food (just like most mammals), and I think hardwired to eat meat.

We are also hardwired when it comes to understanding a personal space in both the mind and physical.....when this becomes endangered, we are preprogrammed to become aggressive.

But nurture does mold us.....and some of us become passive, and even some of us become vegetarians. But I think these are choices.

southfield_2001 said...

I guess it boils down to the degree of "hardwiring".
If I read you correctly, we are hardwired to resort to violent behaviour if trying to satisfy only our basic needs of food, drink and some degree of personal space (which would include an even more base need, shelter).
Perhaps that is true. I think humans are aggressive by nature and that nurture in civilized societies teaches us to be less aggressive than our primary instincts. Hence, the reason most of us really want to beat the crap out of the guy who cuts us off in traffic but instead we just lay on the horn and give him the finger. Aggressiveness also explains the cutting off in traffic by that guy.
Of course, laws help, too. I might want to beat the crap out of that guy but it ain't worth a possible jail sentence in return.
I also believe nurture really is the key in raising civilized humans and that, in time, we could probably overcome and eliminate that violent tendency.
In other words, by nature, we are not a civilized species by the modern definition of civilized.
BTW, I'm glad you've been leaving comments. You have always been one of the best pure conversationalists on any board because you're willing to say what you think and engage in rational discussion while actually considering other people's opinions (unless they were fluff-filled fundys or moronic Jew-haters). I left a comment on your blog today but for some reason it didn't seem to post. Such is life.