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The God Hypothesis

By zharth
Inspired by Pierre-Simon Laplace's famous remark. Regardless of its accuracy or proper context, I think it's a great way to frame the issue. God (and all the details of "the firmament" that come with it) is, in a sense, a cosmological hypothesis. I simply have no need for it. Not to explain the universe (that's what science is for), nor to guide my moral life (I have reason, philosophy, and secular humanism for that). From my perspective, the existence of God (for which there is a suspicious dearth of evidence) is utterly irrelevant.

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Nuddhist's avatar
My standpoint is this.  If you believe in God, God exists.  If you don't believe in God, God doesn't exist.

But then there is the Babel fish.  “Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mind-bogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as the final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.
The argument goes something like this: "I refuse to prove that I exist,'" says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."
"But," says Man, "The Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED."
"Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
"Oh, that was easy," says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.”
zharth's avatar
Upon further consideration, I'm thinking that this is a pretty good indictment of how contradictory the various arguments for God are. You'll have to excuse me, comedy isn't my first language. As for the subjectivity of religious experience, my worldview certainly allows for some leniency (tolerance trumps dogma), but complications arise when we get in to the nitty gritty.

No conception of God should contradict science, unless it has a really good reason to do so (and I've never heard one). And any belief in the omnibenevolence of God should have some explanation for the problem of evil (or at least the fact that some people's lives are shit for reasons that they have no control over), that doesn't rely on the fallacy that disbelief leads to misfortune (and the implied opposite, which is no more true).

I guess I'm just looking for some logical consistency. And if God isn't logical, well, then he's an entity we can't really comprehend and it's inappopriate to make claims about him like that he possesses human traits such as empathy and kindness. And maybe the fact that he's all-powerful and created the universe (if that's part of what one believes) doesn't necessarily mean we should worship him.
zharth's avatar
Well, I'd say that's a messy jumble of the ontological and teleological arguments. I'm not sure to what extent anything from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy warrants serious consideration (although I did appreciate "we apologize for the inconvenience"). But my perspective on faith is that only a con man would insist that you believe something without proof, and so if God demands faith, then he doesn't deserve our unquestioning devotion.