to be reasonable or to not

in light of the recent paperback release of richard dawkins' The God Delusion, i'd like to to take a moment to point something out to the good mr. dawkins as well as all the people on the other side of the fence.

there is nothing in our capacity that can answer the question of the existence of god. it cannot be proved or disproved. for someone to say that they have any amount of reason behind their choice is absolutely absurd. i consider mr dawkins to be every bit as silly as the other side.

what he has done is made a choice. to make himself feel better about it, he's tried to explain why his choice is backed by reason and logic. but it's not. his entire premise seems to be the absence of evidence is evidence to the contrary. hubris, what?

this is a question that is fundamentally irrelevant. it means nothing. whether there is or is not a god does not really affect us. god or no god, it is still directly experienceable that to be kind to others is more efficient in life. efficiency here to be defined as that which leads to a happier life experience. to me, there is no standard worth accounting for more than this one.

what strikes me as so terrifically odd about this discussion is that everyone seems to enjoy thinking that it's relevant, that it matters. it doesn't.

i am not saying there is or is not a god. i am saying that anyone who does is making a choice. they don't have any real reason or logic behind their position, however much they try to sell the notion that they do. they have made a choice of what they WANT to believe in. and that's fine. it's perfectly fine for anyone to CHOOSE to believe whatever they WANT to.

what is disconcerting here is that we seem to be starting to see the same sort of silliness that has pervaded the "god-fearing" world for so long.

it is reasonable to say "i have chosen to believe this because it's comforting to me to think there is not a god" or "i have chosen to believe this because it is preferrable to me to think that there is a god." Neither is particularly rational.

to be rational, one must say "currently, we cannot know. we cannot do anything resembling know."

and you'll hear people use arguments like "evolution proves there's no god". really? it does? how does it do that? one could just as rationally argue that god is that which flicked the marble that got the process rolling.

this is the issue when the concept you are trying to prove or disprove is so gelatinous. "god" can be defined in a million different ways.

the plain fact is that we don't know anything about anything really. we don't have any real idea how the universe works. we have the seedlings of some ideas about some things, but as physics has illustrated over and over, there is a good chance that what we think we might have understood today is apt to be proved totally wrong in the future.

our knowledge of the universe (scientifically) is about the equivalent of one's sole knowledge of other humans as that "some have hair on their heads, it seems like".

scientifically, we haven't a clue. we might one day and a question like this might be possible to answer, but right now it's not. not with any real reason, logic, or evidence. what is possible is that someone can CHOOSE to believe whatever they find preferable. fair enough.

what scares me about this situation is that we seem to still be making the same mistake as religious fanatics have always made which is to lose our focus by paying attention only to unanswerables.

we could be focusing on world hunger or population density or employment levels or education or healthcare, but instead, we are interested in pretending we have an answer to something which cannot be answered satisfactorily either way.

perhaps, we can be a little reasonable sometimes, and say that we truly don't know either way and that it doesn't matter one way or the other. the right way to live is the right way to live. and that's what each person has to define for themselves.

maybe we can stop letting ourselves get distracted by these stupid fucking questions?

maybe we can focus on things we can resolve or at least have a higher hope of being able to resolve.

i know, i know, people will say "but he says we can't know. he says he's a six on scale of one to seven." but he is clearly implying that he can be reasonably certain. no, mr dawkins, you can't. you can choose to think what you want as can others, but neither of you will be anything like reasonable about it. you are only just choosing to believe what you want to believe.

and on the other side, people will say "but if we're right about god and all that, then you'll go to hell". to them, i say this:

if you are right, and in the big after, we are still in some sense ourselves and there are clouds with a guy that says who's in and who isn't, and it's based on whether or not i have said the magic words. make no mistake about it, this is the fundamental belief of christianity. one must say the magic words or they are a no go for the room with the clouds. if that's true, then this "god" of yours has sent bob marley, and john lennon, and gandhi to hell.

if there is a god as you think of him, and he sent gandhi to hell, he can go fuck himself. i'll be first in line at death to spit in that cocksucker's face and ask where the bus is to where the real good people are. seriously, you really want to spend eternity with a god that would take ted bundy because he said the magic words, but not gandhi because he didn't? okay, have fun. i say, any entity of that sort is not worthy of one moments' worship. i don't care if he formed the universe out his balls when he blew a load into the void. he's not worthy of my time, let alone my approval or adoration.

so, at it both ways, this issue is irrelevant.

why is it so bad to have unanswered questions? what is this in our culture that says that we must answer all questions? why can't it be beautiful that there are some mysteries too great for us to understand?

but we, as a people, are terrified of that. oh no, we must have answers to everything. there can be no mysteries. so we trick ourselves into thinking we know or that we can know.

science will explain the water cycle and we'll say "well, see, that's not miraculous. its just a cycle." seriously? water falls out of the sky, then changes form and rises back up and changes form again only to falls again. telling me how it works doesn't do anything to make it less of a mystery, it only shows me one part of the process of how the mystery unfolds. if anything, it's amazingness (like that word?) is heightened by our understanding of how complex this process is.

so, my suggestion would be that we stop wasting time on these unanswerable questions and spend that time on things that can be solved, or at least, that we have some capacity to answer.

i say mr dawkins, and mr hitchens are the same as the pope and head of the baptist summit in that they both like to pretend they know things they don't. they like to pretend that their choice is really the natural pose of reason, but it isn't. it's only a choice. nothing more.

can we move on to issues where reason can be applied now? can we please be done with these stupid arguments over unknowables? that is what not just reason, but common sense dictates. but will we stop with this vanity in trying to pretend there is anything that indicates one way or the other?

well, i guess, we each have to answer that question for ourselves.

2008-04-18 | 11:08 a.m.
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