Stephen Kahn

For every problem…

In Hard to tell on April 8, 2011 at 6:12 pm

There is a solution. Perhaps.

However, every solution seems to create a problem.

A common suggestion for solving problems involves the “G” word. This solution, if I may be so bold as to make this comment, has a long history of creating problems.

  1. It’s a riddle! Maybe I should know what it stands for but I had to presume. So what is the “G” solution that creates a multitude of problems?

  2. I “hate” to presume, that is.

  3. I agree…God as a solution has created a million problems to the human race. But is He the source of the many problems or could it be that His existence challenges both the natural and spiritual aspects of men…and only one of the two can win? The natural man says “I can do without Him while the other says “I cannot do without Him.”

    • There is no empirical evidence for the existence of God. Either God created human beings–in which case He has a lot to answer for–but to whom does God answer to–or human beings invented God.

      There are thousands of different religious beliefs and variations of “main” beliefs (Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, etc., etc.) Where did they all come from? Either humans invented all of them except the one that is TRUE, or humans invented all of them. Or they all are dim reflections of a God who chooses to keep Himself (or Herself, or Itself) very hidden and dim.

      The universe exists. The world exists. We exist as conscious, self-aware animals aware of our own existence. This is quite remarkable; I often think about it. But none of this communicates to me that the Being known as God exists. And if he does exist, it seems as likely to me that He is one of the “Evil elder Gods” H. P. Lovecraft postulated in his science fiction as that He is a God of love and kindness.

  4. Oh, I thought you meant “genocide.” I’m not sure “God” is much less alarming, actually.

  5. David, they are both quite alarming. I am most familiar with Christianity, a religion that often postulates a Heaven and a Hell. As bad as people as Hitler and Stalin (etc.) were, I am not sure that torturing them in Hell makes the souls of the people they killed and tortured feel any better.

    For that matter, I envision a typical human being who has suffered the worst that humans can inflict–disease, torture, rape, murder, etc. but had faith and goes to “Heaven.” At which point God, or Jesus, says, “Don’t worry about any of it. You are home now. Everything will be all right forever and forever. But first I had to make you go through all of this.”

    Many religious people seem to be able to get their minds around all this and feel that it makes sense. I am, to put it mildly, dubious. I was not raised as a religious believer, so I am not rebelling against a fundamentalist upbringing. My life has gone remarkably well. The fact that I have not suffered that much does make me feel better when I consider how much suffering there is in the world.

    Some religious believers say that God allows evil to exist so we can appreciate and do good. I am not God-like; I do not know how to arrange the universe; I do not hate my life, but these arguments trying to justify and explain evil and suffering do not persuade or comfort me.

  6. I could say that there is indeed empirical evidence for the existence of God. I could direct you to historical text, prophecies from circa 500 that have transpired (1- that Egypt would never rule as a great nation again or 2- that Israel, while still in the diaspora, would one day become a nation again (something that occurred in 1967)just to name two, but that might not be solid enough for you. So, I’ll stand on your side of the argument and put aside the evidence for the reliability and historicity of the Judeo Christian text.

    From a scientific perspective, to believe that pre-cellular life form mutated into complex human beings is not testable, verifiable or provable. Cells that mutate always mutate downward into simpler life forms, never upward – so Natural Selection cannot be proven.

    What I personally find surprising is that people will often say things like “He must be evil to allow so much evil in this world.” or as you said, “He has a lot to answer for.” and yet we all show so much deference for mere earthly powers or people in authority – we are often respectful of them because we understand the power that they have. Yet, when it comes to the concept of God, people are quite blaze about it all, and quick to insult Him or make Him out to be bad. But God is patient.

    “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should reach repentance” 2 Peter 3:9

    Judeo text says that God is the Alpha and Omega – the beginning and the end. If He’s the beginning (a concept humans can hardly fathom), He has no one to whom He must answer.

    I agree with you when you answer your own question – “where did all the religions come from?” I do believe that while there is indeed and carnal aspect to us, there is an undeniable spiritual aspect. “So God created man in His own image.” Geneis 1:27 We are the imago dei, and I believe that these many religions (not all true) are the created’ attempts at drawing closer to the Creator.

  7. Renee, for about five years I participated in an evangelical Christian web site: I read and posted thousands of comments similar to the ones we are exchanging. I came to the conclusion that some people believe and some people do not; some gain faith after being atheists and some lose faith after being believers. Do you believe in Heaven and Hell? Do these concepts make sense to you?

    The word “meme” refers to an idea similar to a virus, that spreads from person to person like a cold or flue spread from body to body. As far as I can tell (I admit my understanding is superficial) of the “great” religions of the world–Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the first three are “genetic” memes (people get them from parents and kin and culture) and the last two are “infectious” memes, in that people who believe in their faith feel compelled to “spread” them by converting others (spreading the “good news.”)

    There is also a theory that religious belief is in part genetic (real genes, not memes). That is, in human evolution (which you evidently doubt), genes that promote religious belief or at least make people particularly susceptible to it are dominant. This is, I admit, a cockeyed theory, although I have heard that Edmund Wilson (credited with the theory called sociobiology) thinks it may be valid.

    As I have a wry and sardonic sense of humor, I suspect that I lack the gene that promotes religious belief (or at least it is not dominant). In any case, I have never found religious belief convincing or attractive. Perhaps this is all a result of my genetic makeup. Which makes me ask, “If God wants me to to believe in him, what kind of a God would allow me to have genes that may make it impossible for me to believe?”

    Of course, if you are a serious carrier of the “I must convert this fellow,” (as you seem to be) your nervous system is now panting with excitement. By the way (I am such a tease) have you ever actually converted an adult to Christianity?

  8. Stephen, I first started discussing philosophy and theology when chat rooms were Bulletin Boards.I discussed different belief systems with Wiccans, Hindus, Atheist, and Agnostics,just to name a few, and came to the conclusion that wordy exchanges on religion exercise the mind but “very” seldom the heart. So while I may fill large portions of your comment section with my responses,that may be more a sign of my longwindedness than my eagerness to proselytize. I am fully aware that I don’t have the power to make you believe anything. My view is that, believing in God is in fact, an act of God. He initiates it.

    You mention genes that indicate a propensity for religiosity. I believe that’s like studying the symptom and not the cause. How we think affects our body’s chemistry. We could go into the house of a very negative and depressive family and study their genes and say that these people have a propensity for gloom and doom. But it’s their conditioning, their nurture that makes them negative.

    Science is incredible. It has made our way of life so much better on a physical level, but it will never address the hunger people naturally have for something more than physical, on a spiritual level. Of course, as a true-blue Darwinist (if that is what you are), you may say that spirituality is a concoction of people who fear the future or the end, and create ideas of Heaven and Gods to ease their fears. But I rather think that for mere flesh and bones to have the ability to conjure up the “spiritual”, the “afterlife”, and “God”, which are complex concepts that no physical human has ever seen, points to the fact that there is indeed a metaphysical aspect to us. There is more to us than the result of primordial soup.

  9. I don’t think of myself as a “true-blue Darwinist.” I think the theory of evolution is more likely than intelligent design. I dislike the term “Darwinist,” as a tag for people who feel as I do. I don’t know whether you prefer the term “Creationist” or supporter of Intelligent Design, or something else.

    As far as I can remember (it was a long time ago) at the same time I read most of the Bible (around the age of 10) and concluded, “This was more likely written by humans than inspired by God,” my fifth grade teacher assigned us to write a report on the “founding father” we most admired. I may have said this already (I am sneaking up on dementia), but I picked the Puritan Calvinist preacher Roger Williams. I still feel the same way about him as I did almost 50 years ago. He was a nutty religious fanatic and a great, brilliant, and humane man who helped our nation in many ways.

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