Today I got an email from Michael in response to my “Morality comes from nature, not God” post. I was intrigued by what he had to say. Particularly the part where he suggests that I am God.
I like that hypothesis. A lot. I just wish there was more evidence for it than I’ve been able to dredge up.
Michael wrote me a thoughtful message. I don’t agree with most of what he said, but I appreciate the sharing. Here’s my paragraph by paragraph response to his email. (Michael’s words are in italics, mine in regular type).
An interesting though not new approach to discussing the question of God. Your whole premise is an avoidance of getting to the bottom of the question.
Gosh, that’s news to me. I’m 58. I’ve spent the past forty years trying to dive into the depths of “Does God exist?” Plus, “What’s the meaning of it all?” and “What the heck is ‘it’ anyway?” More than forty if you count listening to a lot of Bob Dylan from age sixteen to eighteen.
If the question is… Does God exist? or From whence does morality come?
As above, yes, #1 of yours is my main question. #2 has been a subsidiary query. I’ve never considered that “God” and “morality” necessarily had much to do with each other. Buddhists are highly moral but don’t believe in God. Ditto with Taoists.
Still, I’m certainly interested in from whence morality comes. As I am in from whence the whole universe comes—a more interesting question.
Then the honest questioner must not be satisfied with a half answer. Ex. Morality comes from nature. OK Where does nature come from? (This is what I mean by a half answer.)
Yes, absolutely. The Big Bang banged the nature of everything into existence. What lies beyond, or beneath, or before the Big Bang? Great question. Scientists are working on it like crazy. They’ve made good progress.
Then lets assume you take a popular answer… Nature occurred accidentally… Big Bang or billions of years of accumulated accidents that resulted in life (The necessary increasing complexity occurring accidentally is not demonstrated ANYWHERE in scientific study over long periods of time.)
What science books have you been reading? I’ve read dozens of them. None from the Creation Science Institute though. That probably explains why we’re coming from different understandings of modern science.
“Accident” isn’t a scientific way of explaining things. “Randomness” sometimes is used, but even here it’s agreed that randomness and order are two sides of the same coin. Random quantum fluctuations at the moment of the Big Bang are theorized to be the seed material, so to speak, that led to the large scale structure of the cosmos.
Quantum mechanics is anything but accidental, though. It’s predictable to a fault. Quantum theory makes possible modern technology, including the computer you used to write “Nature occurred accidentally.” You may believe that. Science doesn’t.
Evolution, to give another example, is utterly non-accidental. Nature selects for the most adaptive characteristics of living beings. Those aren’t “accumulated accidents” as you said, but accumulated selections.
Evolutionary theory is exceedingly well proven. The mistake you make is saying that science hasn’t found evidence of increasing complexity occurring “accidentally.” Of course it hasn’t. Science looks for (and finds) order in the universe, not accidents. Even chaos is hidden order.
You are demonstrating faith against all reason. That’s different than faith in something that is based on reason… although to be faith it must be believing / trusting in something bigger than us and beyond our full understanding.
Not sure what you’re saying here. I’ve just talked quite reasonably, in my eminently reasonable opinion. I do have faith in science. And, to a lesser degree, in mysticism—insofar as it is looked upon as the study of the subtleties of consciousness.
Both science and mysticism accept that there is more to know about the cosmos than what we know now. That seems obvious. Concerning the big cosmic questions of life, we’re clueless. Me, you, whoever else is reading this. All of us.
Quantum physics is beyond our full ability to see and directly know. We can however predict and imagine it. However, we don’t trust in it as a living “god” like being to direct our lives and so it falls short of religious faith.
Yes. I agree. We’ve found some common ground!
So all I am saying is that you are throwing out God because of personal reasons (anger / frustration with God and the life you have, or with religious people who don’t demonstrate the good qualities God is supposed to have, or etc.). You are not however really answering your own question. You are avoiding it by providing a half answer… Nature is the source of morality (meaning and direction for life).
Well, I guess you’re right: I am indeed throwing out God for personal reasons. What other reasons could I have? There is no demonstrable evidence that God exists, and there is no absolute, 100%, irrefutable, ironclad evidence that God doesn’t exist. So each of us has to decide on our own how we feel about the big question, “Does God exist?”
Here’s the thing though (which I’ve borrowed from Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” book). A reasonable person, like me and Dawkins, considers probabilities in the absence of certainties. What is the probability of nature being the source of morality vs. God being the source?
We can sense nature. We know a lot about nature. We can delve into the inner workings of nature. God, on the other hand, is a mystery. If He/She/It exists, this ultimate reality works in mysterious ways. So mysterious, there are no signs of those ways.
Thus until God shows up as an evident force in the physical universe, I’ll place my bet on natural causes as the source of what surrounds us. And, is us.
Lastly, I don’t think I’m angry or frustrated with God and the life I have. I’m a positive person, by and large. It pisses me off sometimes that I haven’t made more progress in figuring out the big questions of life we’ve been talking about. But I have a lot of company. Again, at heart we’re all clueless.
It is a very convenient statement. It really says YOU are GOD. Because nature is up to interpretation and YOU are the interpreter. So, whether you realize it or not, YOU are your own self proclaimed god. You are afraid to trust in any other god / God.
Hey, I’d love to be God. I tried it for a while, but thirty-four years of marriage have driven my divinity out of me. I’ve learned that Wife is God.
But seriously…(hope my wife doesn’t read those two words) I’m not proclaiming myself to be God. No way. This whole Church of the Churchless blog rests on the premise that I don’t know who God is, or more basically, if God is. Do you?
Seriously, tell me. Do you know that God exists? For sure?
Thankfully you are not My God. Because, I have a suspicion that you would judge me harshly and not graciously and the terms of your judgments would probably change like a tide based on your emotions and needs and etc. Wow! What a terrible God that would be to serve!
I don’t think I’d judge you harshly. Again, I’m basically a positive person. Except when I hear about the idiocies of the Bush Administration. If you’re not a Republican who holds higher office I can embrace you whole-heartedly. (But, um, not in the way that the nation’s recently dethroned evangelical leader would.)
I hope you don’t remain satisfied with your answer and continue searching for a real God, not a manufactured self-made god who is almost certainly a harsh and unreliable judge, not just of others but of yourself also.
Oh, don’t worry. I’m certainly searching for a real God. That’s why I’m so sour on religion. We agree that self-made gods are way inferior to the genuine item (again, assuming that it exists). Where we differ is on the question of who is making up beliefs that aren’t real.
I say religious believers. You say me. I say, I’ve got the facts on my side.
Tell me: where is your evidence for a God who isn’t manufactured out of human cognition, intellection, emotion, or imagination? I’m a vegetarian, but where’s the beef?
Lastly, I’m not the one who has made up a god who is a harsh and unreliable judge. I think you’re confusing me with the Old Testament.
Thanks for the article. Best of luck!
You’re welcome. I look forward to receiving your gift of luck. Much appreciated.