Thursday, 3 March 2011

There is no evidence for God

I can't take credit for this as it's a great post by halfcentaur on one of the JREF Forums entitled "There is no evidence for God", but it struck such a cord with me that I've reposted it here in it's entirety. The link to the original post is http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?postid=6885908#post6885908

Not only is there no evidence for a god, the concept is clearly derivitive from one of the first mistakes in logic people make when trying to understand the natural world. Superstition.

We used to think there was a god or spirit for individual flowers, rivers, mountains, the sky. Even the house, the hearth, and food like bread and wine. It's an abstract concept that assigns identity to what is really merely a collection of basic components. We like to think of things as complete concepts, and not what makes them up. A birthday cake is really flour and eggs and sugar.

The more we explain these things and break the world down, the less and less we have left to assign this spirit of being towards. The God of the Gaps as it's been called. Now that we've explained so much of the universe away without the need of spirits or gods, all we have left really is the sum collective of the components of the natural world, the universe itself. Existence and reality itself.

We still assign this anthropic personality to the things we don't understand. This is the essence of the God concept.

There's a reason even the most simple minded and child like intelligence understands the conclusion that there is a God out there, and this wide spread idea would be a mistake in logic to conclude as evidence itself for a God just because it is so common an idea.

It's common because it's beginner's logic to making sense of the world to a being with an identity.

But why do we humans strive to find identity in the natural world around us?

We humans assign the paramount of importance in all of existence to consciousness and identity. Assigning identity to objects without identity is an error that comes from projection.

Psychological projection, and nothing more.

It is only when one strives to keep going that logic breaks down this projection and frees the mind to see beyond the anthropic bias.

Understandably, it's a comfort to have this projection of universal identity confirmed to a social animal that thrives on not being alone. We are wired to not want to be alone, and to seek out other identities. We feel good and safe and comfortable when we're not alone.

This is the reason so many make the mistake of seeing a God as an acceptable answer. It not only seems logical at first sight, it gives pleasure. And to have that idea taken from you is perceived as an actual threat to the well being of the mind, at a basic level of psychology.

It's completely understandable that those who entertain the concept of a God would have difficulty with ignoring the threat that doubt poses.

One must recognize their own need to project identity on the universe to understand there is no God, and ultimately to find intellectual freedom in divorcing the mind from the need.

Awe and wonder at realizing one's place in the scale of the universe is mistaken for being a part of this projection.

Awe and wonder can easily turn to terror when a being wired to find comfort in the company of other identities discovers how alone it is in the universe when looking at the idea through a certain point of view.

But when one considers how ironic our existence really is, a chain reaction of an infinite amount of interactions, the precious and fragile beauty of being is truly revealed to a mind able to appreciate aesthetic pleasure, and this beauty and sense of meaning dwarfs any primitive "spiritualism" that anthropic projection seeks to hide within the guise of religion.

To a mind able to derive pleasure and wonder at the universe, A God actually renders the Universe into something ultimately boring and dull, merely a creation of a being that is only doing something it's capable of doing. What's so special about the universe if a God is already omnipotent and omniscient? It's not impressive at all, really. It's just a construct. It's only impressive and worthy of worship because we can't do it or hope to understand it. To expect us to worship something based on that criteria is unfair and petty.

The only thing left to derive awe and wonder from is the ability of this God, to feed the ego of something merely doing what it can easily do anyways. To worship a being for doing what it's able to do anyways. Perhaps if this God chose to do something noble, which is what the various religions try to construe out of all this unfortunate projecting. But Christianity is confused over worshiping God because he is noble, and worshiping God because it's a law.

The true nature of reality is much more amazing and important and ironic and beautiful without a God. No longer is reality merely the expression of a God's ability, but a miracle of circumstance so complex and elegant it takes the breath away.

Logic ultimately unmasks beauty, meaning, and importance as nothing but an arbitrary frame of reference imposed on the universe by the human mind. It is not really real, in the sense that humans find pleasure in observing concrete truths.

But meaning is what you make of it.

As beings able to experience pleasure at aesthetic elegance, beauty and chance, it's a tragedy that so many dismiss the miracle of a godless universe in favor of the dull psychological projections of religion, I think.

"Deteriorata" - National Lampoon

You are a fluke of the universe. You have no right to be here.

Go placidly amid the noise and waste,
And remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof.
Avoid quiet and passive persons, unless you are in need of sleep.
Rotate your tires.
Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself,
And heed well their advice, even though they be turkeys.
Know what to kiss, and when.
Consider that two wrongs never make a right, but that three do.
Wherever possible, put people on hold.
Be comforted that in the face of all aridity and disillusionment,
and despite the changing fortunes of time,
There is always a big future in computer maintenance.

Remember The Pueblo.
Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate.
Know yourself. If you need help, call the FBI.
Exercise caution in your daily affairs,
Especially with those persons closest to you -
That lemon on your left, for instance.
Be assured that a walk through the ocean of most souls
Would scarcely get your feet wet.
Fall not in love therefore. It will stick to your face.
Gracefully surrender the things of youth: birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan.
And let not the sands of time get in your lunch.
Hire people with hooks.
For a good time, call 606-4311. Ask for Ken.
Take heart in the bedeepening gloom
That your dog is finally getting enough cheese.
And reflect that whatever fortune may be your lot,
It could only be worse in Milwaukee.

You are a fluke of the universe.
You have no right to be here.
And whether you can hear it or not,
The universe is laughing behind your back.

Therefore, make peace with your god,
Whatever you perceive him to be - hairy thunderer, or cosmic muffin.
With all its hopes, dreams, promises, and urban renewal,
The world continues to deteriorate.
Give up!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Cardinal Newmans Miracle: What is the truth?

Pope Benedict is in the UK in Birmingham to celebrate the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman this weekend. Is this beatification really justified based on the evidence of him performing a miracle? Read this article by John Cornwell in the Times newspaper and decide for yourselves.

"Why Cardinal Newman is no saint"