Yes, Virginia, there is a God

Here’s a chap literally preaching to the converted. He’s not pursuing any sort of rational argument; you can tell that from his tone.

But even if he were, there’s two ways to shoot down his argument. First is that he hasn’t proven the existence of God, just the possibility. Not that any “atheistic” spokesman in a university debate would try to prove that God exists, anyway. Can’t prove a negative.

Second is that yes, humankind does not know everything there is to be known – and here I note with some interest that he talks about the concepts of science, rather than the minutiae of detail in the physical world – and therefore we might find God in the vast amount we do not know. But not necessarily his God. Presumably that vast echoing space might contain Ba’al or Allah or any of the myriad gods that humanity has dreamt up.

One thing I am quite sure about is that there is something in what we do not know that we can call God. We might not believe in the precise creation myth of any particular religion, usually involving colourful events in a suitably grand story that begins with nothing but a deity and ends with our physical world fresh and glorious, but we can all agree that the universe was created.

Because, well, here it is.

There is something that keeps the cosmos running. Some principle, some system, some entity that ensures that gravity works, that 2 + 2 = 4, that hydrogen fuses to become helium, and all the rest of it.

I don’t know why two masses attract each other and that this attraction is somehow transmitted across millions of light years. It seems bizarre to me that empty space can be full of light and energy and gravity even though there is not a speck of matter to transmit it.

And yet, there it is. I can label all that I do not know as God. in exactly the same way that if I don’t know how thunder works, I can call whatever it is that makes that noise Thor.

There are various names for this concept. Plato calls it “the good”. Plotinus labels it “the One” and “Nous”. In India, it is “the Absolute”.

Whatever it is, we can safely call it God, and know that it exists, and we don’t know how it works. Maybe we will one day, and there’s a Nobel Prize up for grabs right there.

Blank sheet of paper, nothing on it but a name.

And yet we get all these snake oil salesmen who take this sheet of paper and draw upon it with crayons, filling in a colourful creation. Maybe it has eight arms and an elephant’s trunk. Maybe tentacles, maybe a silver beard.

Always something impressive and exciting and loaded down with an entertaining back story. Maybe there’s lots of these creations living and fighting and copulating together, hello Olympus.

Great stories, but none of it provable beyond the simple fact that there’s something making the universe work and we don’t know what it is.

Next time your pre-schooler comes home with a colourful drawing that you stick on the fridge, there’s a god as real as anything you’ll find in a temple. Ask them about it, they’ll make up stories.

Plotinus talks about this act of creation. Something might have no physical existence, but we may create it out of thoughtstuff, give it a name, and share it around.

Which, I guess, is pretty much what I do when I write an erotic story. Come to my temple, come!


philosophy, science , ,

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