Sunday, August 09, 2009

God. Again

In The Sunday Times I review Robert Wright's The Evolution of God: The Origins of Our Beliefs.

26 comments:

  1. Maybe its your advancing years?

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  2. ''Christ. Boring''

    no, actually, thinking about this, maybe, no, forget it.

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  4. G-d - he just won't go away, will He? Like the State stamping out dissent and it only grows.

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  5. I wouldn't have expected a balanced view as you have shown before you are a religious fool.

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  6. Am I a fool because I am religious (I am not especially) or am I foolish - deficient in - religion? Just wondered.

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  7. it is blindingly obvious that claims about a spiritual reality can neither be proved nor disproved by material means.

    Is this likewise true for ghosts? Astrology? Homeopathy? Is scientific skepticism of no value at all, or is it valuable in all instances except...?

    Perhaps I am not in a position to discuss this, being alchemically illiterate.

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  8. Talking about gawd, I hear on radio 4 that one of your gaffers, one young master Murdoch, who most certainly did not get the job because of nepotism, is speaking in Edinburgh shortly, eminently missable, sorry gawd.

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  9. @ kynefski,

    You have a junk box where you put such items as ghosts, Astrology, & Homeopathy. In context, you have placed God into the same box.

    If I read you right, you then label the box, "Things scientists are (or maybe Science is) skeptical of". Also in context, you take the side of being skeptical yourself, as if to side with those skeptical scientists with your own skeptic sympathy.

    None of this does anything to refute Bryan's statement, which you began with:

    Put it like this: it is blindingly obvious that claims about a spiritual reality can neither be proved nor disproved by material means. End of argument.

    Of course, skepticism is part of religious faith. There is Mark 9:24:

    Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" (NIV)

    Skepticism is not an argument, nor does it advance an argument. It recognizes that there is one, and in your case, you recognize that some of those arguing could be scientists. In this sense, you have supported Bryan's position, giving raison d'etre to his article.

    Yours,
    Rus

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  10. If I read you right, you then label the box, "Things scientists are (or maybe Science is) skeptical of".

    (1) "Scientific skepticism" is not the exclusive realm of scientists. It is a disposition to which, in appropriate circumstances, we should all aspire.

    (2) The box should be labeled "Things to which scientific skepticism should be applied."

    (3) I was not trying to refute Bryan's assertion. I honestly want to know if his assertion (that claims about a spiritual reality can neither be proved nor disproved by material means) should be taken to be universal.

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  12. Hi kynefski,

    The box is not something to necessarily aspire to. It is a recognition of what scientists would find themselves skeptical of, based on the materialistic-only approach. If you would like to aspire to it, then by all means go ahead. It's not a bad thing as far as it goes. Although know going forward, that has its limitations.

    The domain of Science is the material world. Scientists look at physical things, at least measurable things. Such a bent would tend to a lumping of all things spiritual into the same box, for people to be "scientifically" skeptical of them. In a sense, this means that such things cannot be proven, but neither can they be disproved.

    Like I say, this does nothing to refute them. If you were to take a trail through Science to be skeptical of God, this would mean that you have reached, with the scientists, the modern dead-end to research. You might then try a spiritual approach. This is all personal aspiration, nothing to which "we should all aspire" as you put it. That would be to say that at any given moment, no matter where you are, or wherever Science is in relation to the question of God, everyone else should be there too. People take different trails up the mountain, some of which don't even cross, never mind make it to the top. And Science, for all its value to humankind, may not have a trail to get us there ever.

    So I will re-assert my initial label, that your personal box, the one you say you accept from Science, is better labeled "Things scientists are (or maybe Science is) skeptical of". This takes out the "should" you want to apply to everyone else.

    Yours,
    Rus

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  13. Maybe the problem is that there's nothing about God that hasn't already been said. So the only thing folks have left is to argue about it instead. Maybe a permanent argument should be set up in a theatre somewhere. When compulsive arguers are feeling a bit down and even at a complete loss for anything to argue about, they can pop in to the theatre and refresh themselves listening to God and No-God duking it out. Thus God is the argument that never sleeps.

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  14. Bryan, just out of curiosity, if you could choose between proving there is a God, and proving there isn't one, would you have a preference? I know the question might seem a bit meaningless, but in terms of the social implications of each option, does one seem preferable? Do you agree with Julian Barnes when he says, "I don't believe in God, but I miss him."? Would you miss him too?

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  15. The Militant Anti-God BrigadeAugust 10, 2009 12:26 am

    GRRRRR!

    GRRRRRRRRRR!

    GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

    Now excuse me, I must find another blog in which I have an opportunity to rail against God, faith etc.

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  16. And they say that intelligent discourse is dead.

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  17. Oh lordy. I notice people aren't even bothering to criticise the absurdity (some would say dishonesty) of using the phrase 'militant atheist' when we just mean 'atheist' or 'outspoken atheist' or 'atheist who has written a book about atheism'. We could, I suppose, try to flip it back on Bryan and the other outspoken religious apologists of the press by describing them as ‘militant religionists’, but the trouble is that in that context we are all too aware of what ‘militant’ really means, so the sleight of hand doesn’t come off.

    Anyway, leaving that aside, and ignoring the nonsense about ‘Dawkinsians’ wanting to ‘stamp out ‘religion, I thought this bit was staggering:

    “The point is not how the watch was designed but the fact that it is designed. Some process has led to its existence and it is that process that matters”

    Surely Bryan understands that ‘some process’ is not the same thing as ‘design’? Beachy Head came about by ‘some process’ but would you really want to talk about its ‘design’ or its ‘designer’? How does the design of the Saharan dunes strike you? The rest of the review is nonsensical because it follows from this absurdity. You may (I don’t know why, but some do) want to use the word ‘god’ to mean the laws of nature, or the sense of awe that there is something rather than nothing (you could use ‘teatray’, instead, if you like) and Dawkins has repeatedly and explicitly said that he has no beef with that contentless, empty category from which nothing normative can follow (he calls it ‘Einsteinian’ religion), but don’t fool yourself that that advances any argument.

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  18. Hi John,

    Goshk. Bryan used the adjective "militant" correctly. Richard Dawkins has more than written a book. He's been militant.

    Here are onelook.com's quick definitions:

    ▸ noun: a militant reformer
    ▸ adjective: showing a fighting disposition without self-seeking (
    "Militant in fighting for better wages for workers")
    ▸ adjective: engaged in war


    We are looking at the second one, the first adjective.

    Merriam-Webster flips the two adjective definitions around to get this:

    1 : engaged in warfare or combat : fighting
    2 : aggressively active (as in a cause) : combative (
    militant conservationists) (a militant attitude)

    Also, on the word "god", I suppose I could do the same, show definitions where your "god" ("to mean laws of nature"), would not fit. The key word in those definitions would be "supernatural"). And your using your "sense of awe" seems to be an attempt to ground god in the material world, even to project or insist upon this assumption before any argument begins. So your arguments beg for pretense as if to say, "Pretend there is nothing supernatural (or even spiritual) . . . . then there would be no God."

    If you were a supernatural god, a creator of everything people behold, how might you create this world? And I am not supporting intelligent design by asking this. I am calling you on your assumption that God can only be in the process, if an argument in support of intelligent design were to point to that process. Again, you would need to first take the assumption that we are not spiritual beings. And then take the assumption that those you are arguing against, Bryan in this case, would pretend with you, that we are not spiritual beings. But this position has already been refuted when he establishes this:

    Put it like this: it is blindingly obvious that claims about a spiritual reality can neither be proved nor disproved by material means. End of argument.

    Yours,
    Rus

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  19. Gravitation Force is the Ultimate Creator, this paper I presented at the 1st Int. Conf. on Revival of Traditional Yoga, held at The Lonavla Yoga Institute (India), Lonavla, Pune in 2006. The Abstract of this paper is given below:

    The Universe includes everything that exists. In the Universe there are billions and billions of stars. These stars are distributed in the space in huge clusters. They are held together by gravitation and are known as galaxies. Sun is also a star. Various members of the solar system are bound to it by gravitation force. Gravitation force is the ultimate cause of birth and death of galaxy, star and planets etc. Gravitation can be considered as the cause of various forms of animate and inanimate existence. Human form is superior to all other forms. Withdrawal of gravitational wave from some plane of action is called the death of that form. It can be assumed that gravitation force is ultimate creator. Source of it is ‘God’. Gravitational Field is the supreme soul (consciousness) and its innumerable points of action may be called as individual soul (consciousness). It acts through body and mind. Body is physical entity. Mind can be defined as the function of autonomic nervous system. Electromagnetic waves are its agents through which it works. This can be realized through the practice of meditation and yoga under qualified meditation instruction. This can remove misunderstanding between science and religion and amongst various religions. This is the gist of all religious teachings – past, present and future.

    AND

    ‘In Scientific Terminology Source of Gravitational Wave is God’ I have presented this paper at the 2nd World Congress on Vedic Sciences held at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi on February 9-11, 2007. The Abstract of this paper is given below:

    For Centuries, antagonism remained between science and religion. Science and spirituality require to be fused. An integrated philisophy is to be developed. It is written in the scriptures that entire creation is being maintained only through love or force of attraction. In Persian it is known as quvat-i-jaziba. It is on account of this force that the entire creation, which come into existence through the combination of small particles and atoms, is being maintained and sustained. The creation or universe includes everything that exists. In the universe there are billions and billions of stars. They are held together by gravitation and are known as galaxies. Sun is also a star. Various members of the solar system are bound to it by gravitation force. Gravitation force is the ultimate cause of birth and death of a galaxy, star and planet etc. and various forms of animate and inanimate existence. Gravitation force is the ultimate creator, sustainer and destroyer of the universe. These are the three attributes of God. Providence has located within the human body a spiritual faculty. When this faculty is developed like physical and mental faculties we find that Truth-the goal of science and God-the goal of religion are one and the same thing.

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