Thursday , April 26, 2018

Uyboco: Do you believe in God?

DEAR sir,

Your articles are interesting but I am confused. Sometimes you talk like an atheist and sometimes, you talk as if you're not. So let me just ask you straight, do you believe in God or not?



Dear Chris,

The question you ask seems like a simple one to answer. I can answer "Yes" or "No" and that would be the end of it. The problem begins when I start to think hard about the question -- because there is that one word that we might not agree on -- that word is "God."

What "God" means for you and what it means for me may be totally different things. If by "God" you mean the "God" in the Bible who commanded that homosexuals be put to death (Leviticus 20:13) and that rebellious children must be stoned (Deuteronomy 21:22), then no, I no longer believe in that God.

If "God" for you means "Jesus" (forget that Old Testament dude -- which you really can't because they're both supposed to be the same guy even though one is the son and the other is the father but they're one anyway), then I'm still working on that. I am currently reading a book,

On the Historicity of Jesus by Richard Carrier which advances the idea that Jesus was not a historical person but a myth. I'll probably devote a future article or two on this topic when I have read more but so far (I'm around 25% into the book), Carrier is presenting a well-referenced and well-thought out case. This is definitely scholarly work and not some run-of-the-mill conspiracy theory.

If "God" for you means "Allah" or "Krishna" or "Vishnu" or "Cthulhu" or any of those, I probably don't believe them either but I claim only a very shallow understanding of them given my background.

If "God" for you means the universe (or some creative, unexplainable life force) -- like if you're the type of person who says, "Thank you, universe," or "The universe told me this or that," then I feel some kinship with you.

Another person recently asked what I thought about Albert Einstein's views on God so I did a little research and found an interview where he was asked the very same question you ask me now. I think he gave a very intelligent reply (though that shouldn't surprise anyone). He said:

"Your question is the most difficult in the world. It is not a question I can answer simply with yes or no. I am not an Atheist. I do not know if I can define myself as a Pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. May I not reply with a parable? The human mind, no matter how highly trained, cannot grasp the universe. We are in the position of a little child, entering a huge library whose walls are covered to the ceiling with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written those books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books, a mysterious order, which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of the human mind, even the greatest and most cultured, toward God. We see a universe marvelously arranged, obeying certain laws, but we understand the laws only dimly. Our limited minds cannot grasp the mysterious force that sways the constellations. I am fascinated by Spinoza's Pantheism. I admire even more his contributions to modern thought. Spinoza is the greatest of modern philosophers, because he is the first philosopher who deals with the soul and the body as one, not as two separate things."

An interesting reply, don't you think?

Good morning, universe.


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