Monday, August 2, 2010

Do you believe in god?

After listening to a podcast by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York, I was directed to the website
I found an interesting section called Ask a Philosopher and was skimming through some of the questions and aanswers. I thought this one was interesting.

(31) Ashley asked:

Do you believe in god?


No, I don't.

In the first place, I have never found the God premise a necessary foundation upon which to base an understanding, or a prediction of, the world around me. I have always found Naturalistic explanations far more accurate, comprehensible, and useful. By Ockham's Razor, therefore, I have chosen to reject the God Premise. (Ockham's Razor — 'entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem' — the principle that 'entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity' — the simplest explanation tends to be the best one.)

In the second place, I have never encountered a meaningful description of other people's understanding of the 'God' concept that I have not found to be internally logically self-contradictory. Consider, as just one example, the 'problem of evil'. The existence of evil in the world is logically inconsistent with the premise that God is omnipotent and omnibenevolent.

In the third place, I have found that many of the efforts I have encountered to provide a logically consistent description of the God concept, result in descriptions of a God that is unworthy of my respect or admiration. This seems to be inconsistent with the concept intended for God by those who provided the descriptions. As but one example, it is easy to argue that what we consider 'evil' is actually a 'necessary evil' by God's standards in her effort to create the best possible world. But if that is the case, then God, for her own professedly omnibenevolent reasons, tolerates a degree of evil in the world that would be intolerable to any reasonable person. Such a God is hardly worthy of our respect and admiration, in my judgement.

In the fourth place, I am a very curious soul. I like to know why. I like the process of finding out why. I like the idea that I could find out why, even if I can't right now. But the God concept is an inquiry stopper. God is, by any definition I have ever encountered, incomprehensible, unexplainable, and beyond the reach of rational inquiry. I do not like the notion that there may be elements of the world that are, by definition, beyond my comprehension. It may turn out that there are in fact elements of the world that are beyond my comprehension. But I prefer to proceed on the basis that there aren't. Inquiry is pointless if it is given there is no comprehensible answer.

Stuart Burns

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