Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Why I believe in God

This is complex because there is no simple single reason. Unlike some atheists who can say there is no proof absolute that God exists therefore I don’t believe God exists, I have thought about this question a bit deeper and accept that proof absolute is not a prerequisite to forming a firmly holding an opinion – believing something.

I want to distinguish between belief in a religion and believing in God. Like proof absolute, a true religion is not a prerequisite for the existence of God. Ghandi said ‘God has no religion’ and I do not believe that there is only one valid religion or revelation of God. To reason about a universal God one can’t limit ones thinking to one religion; one has to think as close to universally as one can.

Thinking universally implies that one approach the question open to any and all possible outcomes. Of course at all times one has to be rational and sceptical, taking nothing at face value. I still find the quote "An unflinching determination to take the whole evidence into account is the only method of preservation against the fluctuating extremes of fashionable opinion” from Alfred North Whitehead a great guide to exploring any question; from neo-classic economics to atheism.

I will not attempt in one post present all my reasoning because in the absence of proof absolute I have to take the weight of evidence as my yardstick. No single element is in itself fully persuasive, but taken together I believe they are indeed compelling.
So as an overview I plan to structure my case around:
A: How do we know about God?
IF there is a God we would expect to have learned about it, rather than just made it up.

B: The evidence for God.
If the evidence for God present in any one religion is persuasive, then that is enough.

C: Are there any good counter arguments? Evaluating the atheist case.
I have yet to encounter a persuasive atheist argument. Until I do, I say there are none, case closed. Feel free to enlighten me if you think I have missed one.

Atheists often accuse theists of moving the goal posts in that as soon as atheists argue that one characterisation of God is improbable the theists present another. I have two things to say on this point.

Firstly, theology is an evolving discipline. We have to expect our ideas about God to evolve as they are challenged. This process is at the very heart of scholarship.

Secondly, I may offend most of religious readers by presenting a universal God that may not conform closely to the strictures of their faith.

However let me characterise the God I believe in. God is of course supernatural, spirit or metaphysical or whatever similar word you choose to describe a non-physical being.
Perhaps God is infinitely more wise, powerful, loving and whatever else than we are, or can imagine being. You can choose words like omniscient etc but I don’t like the implied limitations and besides these terms give rise to some very silly atheist arguments about making square circles. So I will talk about a God who is simply infinitely more than we are.

Sala kahle -peace


Monday, January 23, 2012

To be atheist to the universal God requires one think universally

Most atheist arguments are based around the positions of specific religions. One even argues that because religions disagree they must all be wrong.
If we want to really look at the question of God’s existence surely we need to have an open mind as to which God we are talking about – or rather which we are not talking about.

A year since my last post, no I have not lost interest it is just that my thinking has moved beyond the rather simplistic arguments of so many atheists into less well defined territory.

God is neither Christian nor Hindu, yet both believe in the divine. Surely an open minded approach is to ask if a God exists, rather than if a specific characterisation of God exists?

Ghandi said “God has no religion”, so if we rely on arguments based in a single religion to argue against the existence of God we are at best challenging the characterisation of God by that religion.

I argue that there can be more than one equally valid, but contradictory, answer to a specific question. Therefore if one religion characterises God one way and another differently both can be equally valid. Two people standing at opposite ends of a valley describe a different view, but both see the same valley.

I argue that all (bar the lunatic fringe) religions are most likely valid. Each is its own revelation by God within the cultural context of the revelation. Each revelation by God is tailored to the group to whom it is made, in a language they can understand, using imagery and symbols they can appreciate and addresses issues relevant to them.

This is not to say that we have all created a god to meet our needs, rather it is that God’s revelations to each group meets their needs. The key is in the word revelation and acknowledges that the recipients of the revelation are only human and may get bits of it wrong, or that their successors may screw it up or even abuse it.

Hamba kahle - peace