Michael Battalio

Thursday, August 27, 2009

This I Believe (part 16 comments on the comments part 5)

After all the name calling, superfluous comments on everything ranging from my psychological state to the Christian thoughts on homosexuality, and approximately 400 posts and comments, the following three quotes sum up what I now consider my world view. I’m sure this will change, but it is what it is right now.

Wesley: “You're realizing you can't win an argument based on reason, so now you're falling back to, ‘Well, I know God doesn't make sense, but that's because God doesn't have to make sense. He's beyond our understanding, so he's immune to reason - he doesn't have to follow the laws of the universe was we know them.’ My answer to this is that if there were a God who made himself logically impossible to us, I'm sure he won't be surprised when people do not believe he exists.”

Anon2: “So Wesley, you don't see any convincing evidence for the existence of God. That does not mean there is no God. Since you cannot know all evidence, it is possible that evidence exists that proves God's existence, or at least supports His existence. Therefore, it is possible that God exists. If it is possible, then faith has its place.”

Wesley: “You say that ‘if it is possible that God exists, then [I] should be an agnostic.’ This is a very common criticism - the response is this: every atheist is infinitesimally agnostic. It is possible that your omnipotent and omniscient God exists, but it is infinitesimally possible. The point is this: there is some point at which an unlikelihood becomes an impossibility. If you are familiar with the mathematical concept of a limit from calculus, then you should understand this.”

These three quotes sum up my thinking about God and religion. Formally:
  1. 1.)God is unreasonable, but because of his nature, God doesn’t have to be reasonable to human beings. No matter how unreasonable God seems, if reason cannot prove without any doubt God does not exist, religion can always make this claim. Also if God does exist, He should not condemn a person he created with logic and reason for logically thinking, as long as they truthfully consider the universe. Good acts can save.
  2. 2.)We cannot know all evidence in regards to the God question. God can neither be 100% proven nor 100% disproven. Questions will always remain. Reason is not helpful when it comes to religion.
  3. 3.)There is a small chance God does exist. Regardless of how small this chance is, faith can bridge the gap. Faith is believing when there is no proof. Notice I say no proof. If there is absolute proof God does not exist, faith no longer has a place. Also, faith without some doubt is not really faith. If one believes without any doubt, that is knowing not believing. God requires faith, not blind following.
Thus, does God seem probable? No. Is God possible? Yes. Do I want to believe? Yes. How strong is my faith? Obviously not strong enough, but I think that as imperfect human beings, no believer has that faith.

Friday, August 14, 2009

This I Believe (part 15 comments on the comments part 4)

        This post deals with some of the comments from the post “Serious Conversations (part 7)” I’ve really focused in on just the things I felt were important.

Anon2: “All worldviews require at least some faith, but Christianity, as the only one that accurately portrays reality, requires the least, because its claims can be shown to be objective fact.”
Actually, no they cannot be proven to be objective fact, that’s the point. It only appears to be objective fact because you assume that it “accurately portrays reality”. I also think that moral relativism holds if there is no God.

Anon2: Agnostics are "atheists" when it comes to most religions. Why does the agnostic feel that it's quite all right to play dumb [when it comes to the Christian God] but not in the other cases? The agnostic must believe that he has evidence for the existence of the Christian God that prevents her from outright dismissing Him. (Actually, that's the best case scenario from an intellectual perspective. The worst case scenario is that the agnostic is afraid to admit that he does, in fact, dismiss God all together.) … If agnostics want to play dumb they have to explain why playing dumb makes sense in certain cases but not others. … The main argument I have heard that is pro-agnostic is that ‘Church wastes time’
Truthfully, I think that anything is infinitesimally possible. I choose to formally address the Christian God because that is the faith I was indoctrinated in. I suppose I could randomly pick some other infinitesimally possible deity and address him/her. In this sense I lump all popular religions together. I cannot prove or disprove any of them. They are all possible. The difference is that there is a tradition of belief that is why it is different to address all formal religions and ignore an obviously made up religion. For why I only attend a Catholic church see my previous posts, but to reiterate in short: Church is about the people and interacting with those good people, not just worshiping a deity that may or may not exist.

Anon2 referring to Occam’s razor: “the universe cannot replace God as explanation for its own existence. The universe is finite in both size and time. …How did this universe decide to create itself? …The laws of physics are designed with such precision that it is almost inconceivable that they could be the result of chance. …Random chance does not design such a well-crafted universe. All the atheistic explanations for such an exquisitely defined universe require the presence of trillions of other universes, of which ours is the one which happened, by chance, to have the exact physics required for the formation of galaxies, stars and planets. Therefore the atheistic explanation actually goes against Occam's razor since it requires some mechanism by which universes can sprout from some super universe and randomly change their laws of physics. The mechanism by which physical laws could randomly evolve would add further complexity. Design by an intelligent designer is obviously a much simpler explanation.

I am familiar with Occam’s razor, and it would be useful if you could prove that intelligent design is much simpler. The problem is who are you or anyone else to say that the multiverse is more complicated than an intelligent designer. It is relative. There is no way to prove it. How is it obvious that the multiverse or any other explanation is simpler than God.

I refer you to this post I made on the anthropic principle:

The weak argument refers to the selection of specific times and spaces in the universe for the development of intelligent life. In summary the weak anthropic principle says our existence coincides perfectly with conditions for intelligent life because life would not be around to measure the perfect conditions for its existence if those conditions did meet the needs of intelligent life. To restate, we would not be here to measure stuff if the stuff we were measuring precluded our existence. The strong argument generalizes the weak argument to include fundamental constants and forces of physics. The conclusion to this is we are in a universe where the forces and constants are such that we can exist. (Which, I know, is rather obvious.) An implication of this is that there are universes where forces and constants do not include our existence. So, we are left with a theory of the multiverse, that we are in one of an infinite number of possible universes.
        By introducing this idea of the multiverse, the strong anthropic principle selects our universe as one in which life can exist. This is analogous to the weak version of the anthropic principle selecting our planet at our time for intelligent life, which is also somewhat analogous to the Darwinian theory of Evolution selecting our genes for life.
        So, which is simpler a multiverse, which we cannot prove, or God, which we also cannot prove. At best these considerations leave us agnostic.
2003-2016 Michael Battalio (michael[at]battalio.com)