Supposing God Exists

Suppose that a god exists, that he created the universe, and that the Bible truly is the word of that god. It’s quite a stretch, I know, but use your imagination! Suppose he’s omnipotent and omniscient, at least as far as this universe is concerned. He can’t be completely benevolent because obviously evil exists in this world (free will is no excuse, as I’ve explained in comments to this post – if you want a more scholarly discussion, I recommed J.L. Mackie’s “The Miracle of Theism”).

Given those suppositions, I can’t help but to think that it’s much more likely that he meant the Bible as a joke rather than as a serious document of his will. He even made it pretty obvious! All those contradictions, falsehoods, stupidities and cruelties give it away rather easily, but that’s what makes it so much fun because despite all that people still buy it hook, line, and sinker! Now we have Christians believing that the banana was designed for the human hand and that Adam and Eve lived together with dinosaurs, we have Jews wearing funny little hats and refusing to use fire and electricity on saturdays, Muslim women wearing black full-body robes in summer and Muslim men flying airplanes into office buildings. All the while he’s laughing his ass off about how gullible and easily deceived they all are.

I wonder whether this supposed god would reward me or punish me for having discovered his secret…

18 thoughts on “Supposing God Exists

  1. I really love the creationists for making such hilarious videos!

    Actually, I’ve never heard of the banana design argument before. Reminds me of what some drug users say, though. ‘God wanted certain substances to have a profound effect on the human brain.’ Assuming drugs are easier to design than brains, god either started out with drug design and then moved on to brain design — or alternatively, designed both side by side as a perfect match right from the start.

    Cheers,
    Stefan.

  2. Yes, for all their faults they’re at least amusing! :-)

    I’ve never heard that drug argument before. Why couldn’t drugs have been designed after the brain? I don’t see what it has to do with drug design being easier than brain design.

  3. I wasn’t referring to the crap the pharmaceutical industry makes a decent living with, but rather to substances (like alcaloids, cocaine, opium, cannabinoids, psylocybin, etc) naturally occuring in plants.
    Unlike alcohol (which primarily works by poisoning the organism, including the brain), some of these substances target specific receptors in the central nervous system.
    Some are almost perfect keys to complex receptors (locks) in the CNS, something that is highly unlikely to happen by pure chance.
    It is therefore “reasonable” (in the eyes of the creationist) to assume that god wanted these substances to have an effect on the human brain.

    (Evidence suggests that these plants are way older than mankind.)
    So, which came first: the design of the brain or the design of the plants (drugs)?

  4. Since the earth is only 6000 years both man as well as those natural drugs were here from the start. While god created the banana to provide us with food he planted the drugs as a test of our strength of will. Isn’t it obvious? They are modern version of the Tree of Knowledge.

    Only why he designed us humans with an appendix I don’t know.

  5. Sure thing. But as with most religious topics, you can take any statement, turn it upside down, and it still makes (some) sense.
    Here’s my try: A truly anthropomorphic god would first make the drugs, do them, have the munchies, and then (as a quick and dirty fix) create something edible–bananas;)

  6. There is no kyrptonite in China. Absolutely none. I am %100 sure. Clearly that makes me omniscient. It has nothing to do with the fact that kryptonite doesn’t exist and therefore cannot exist in China.

    Obviously a car was created by someone. The car isn’t alive. If you scratch the car, it doesn’t heal itself. If you scratch yourself, you don’t heal yourself… Oh wait! You do!

    The other thing that he is missing is that people can’t choose to believe in God. You believe in God if you actually believe in God. If I held a gun to Kirk Cameron’s head and told him to believe that grass is red, he couldn’t do it. You can’t choose what you believe in. So even if I pretended to believe in God, he would see through my deceit (assuming he exists), and send me to hell anyway (if he really does work like that).

    I wish I could see this with the humour that you guys do. This angered me more than it humoured me.

  7. Hi Oliver!

    Of course I’m angered by this as well, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still laugh my ass off, does it?

    The “Gold in China” argument actually swings both ways, though they are of course – as in many other cases – not sincere enough to mention it: If you have to know everything about China to determine that there is no gold there, then you have to know just as much to know that there is exactly one piece! In other words, if you cannot claim that there is no god, by the same reasoning you cannot claim that there is only one, unless he tells you that he’s omniscient and that there’s no other and you know that he’s telling the truth, but how could you?

    The Argument by Design has two sides as well: If you claim that since a car was built then by analogy the universe must have been built as well, you must conclude that it was built by a whole lot of gods. Or when have you last seen a Lamborghini that was built by just one guy? Oh, and – not to forget – who built the gods?

  8. Religion can neither be proven nor disproven, but that does not render it useless for real life. Most religions have something positive to offer, if you are open-minded and accept different views and alternative explanations.

    Oliver, I follow your point that one cannot choose what he believes. Still, whenever I focus my attention on something, it gradually changes my perception. So I think it’s possible to gradually build up belief. (But it’s just as possible to experience spontaneous enlightenment.)

    Also, being interested in religions, understanding their basic concepts and beliefs, helps me get along with people better ;)

    For me, science works better for scientific problems and religion works better for religious problems.

  9. If I was “God” – and I can only speak on behalf of myself since that Christian god is so unpredictable… (i.e. turning people into salt statues for looking back – or something to that effect). I’d reward you :) And I’d punish those exploiting religion for monetary rewards, power and influence. Already I see there would be alot of people in my version of Hell. Saw your pics on Flickr – that’s how I came by here. Nice portraits :)

  10. Thanks, Oliver! Yes, my thoughts run along similar lines, though I see things a bit more optimistic than them. If god really does exist I don’t think he has any particular nefarious purpose. He just lets things run and sees what’s happening.

  11. Talking about evil is a tough one. Only an evil God would allow for evil to exist. hmmm. And yet we allow evil to exist all the time when we could do everything possible to stop it. Why do we do that? I mean, where we can stop it, why don’t we?

    I imagine it seems evil to my dog when I put her in my utility closet with her food and blanket when I leave for work. But I don’t want to clean up the poop on he carpet.

    I once heard a serial killer (on the news) call a judge evil for giving him the death penalty for killing 5 people.

    Perhaps perspective is everything. I like to think of evil as anything that is not God’s will. But I do things that are not God’s will all the time.

    If God doesn’t set the standard for evil and good, the other option is quite scary. Who sets it…me? You? Culture? My dog? The serial killer? Whoever is in charge at the moment? Whoever has the loudest voice? The UN?

    God forbid.

    Evil…Good. It’s all very confusing I think. But I do like juggling. That seems good to me.

    What if God is juggling too? All existance flies up and down in perfect synchronicity. But like juggling, if you take a snap shot of a moment in a pattern, it can look like chaos. But taking the pattern as a whole, it is aligned and beautiful.

    What if God is catching pins from 6 billion jugglers at once? Only a God could do that. But I like juggling because, maybe in some small way, it looks like God. Jugglers in their form look something like God.

  12. > Only an evil God would allow for evil to exist. hmmm. And yet we
    > allow evil to exist all the time when we could do everything
    > possible to stop it. Why do we do that? I mean, where we can stop
    > it, why don’t we?

    You’re answering this very question in your next paragraph:

    > I imagine it seems evil to my dog when I put her in my utility
    > closet with her food and blanket when I leave for work. But I
    > don’t want to clean up the poop on he carpet.

    That’s right – we’re sometimes selfish and lazy. Are you arguing God is the same? Because I never hear the clergy talking about it…

    Oh, and the things that jugglers juggle which slightly resemble bowling pins are called “clubs”.

    Thanks for your comment!

  13. > I imagine it seems evil to my dog when I put her in my utility
    > closet with her food and blanket when I leave for work. But I
    > don’t want to clean up the poop on he carpet.

    That’s right – we’re sometimes selfish and lazy. Are you arguing God is the same? Because I never hear the clergy talking about it…

    Does this mean it is selfish and lazy to keep my dog in my utility closet? I think of it as the greater good. Do you think the dog should set the standards?

    Who gets to say what is evil and what is good?

    I always called them pins…must be colloquiel. All the smart people call them clubs maybe? Seems others call them pins too. It’s like evil and good I guess. Perspective and experience. I googled pins and found lots of other referring to them as pins just to figure out how I got that term. Interesting though, when I was in the circus for a year I called them clubs…I wonder how I found myself the alternate term.

    Btw way, what is your thought on this question?

    If God doesn’t set the standard for evil and good, the other option is quite scary. Who sets it…me? You? Culture? My dog? The serial killer? Whoever is in charge at the moment? Whoever has the loudest voice? The UN?

    What if God is juggling too? All existance flies up and down in perfect synchronicity. But like juggling, if you take a snap shot of a moment in a pattern, it can look like chaos. But taking the pattern as a whole, it is aligned and beautiful.

    What if God is catching [CLUBS] from 6 billion jugglers at once? Only a God could do that. But I like juggling because, maybe in some small way, it looks like God. Jugglers in their form look something like God.

    Do you think that we sometimes catch a snapshot of existence and call it evil?

  14. > Does this mean it is selfish and lazy to keep my dog in my
    > utility closet?

    Yes. You could just as well clean up the mess every night, but you’re too lazy to do that. Or you could hire a dog-sitter to take care of the dog while you’re gone, but you don’t want to spend the money because you’re too selfish.

    > I think of it as the greater good. Do you think
    > the dog should set the standards?

    So now you’re telling me that it’s for his own good that he’s locked away?

    > If God doesn’t set the standard for evil and good, the other
    > option is quite scary. Who sets it…me? You? Culture? My dog? The
    > serial killer? Whoever is in charge at the moment? Whoever has
    > the loudest voice? The UN?

    Ah, the old “god defines good and evil” argument! Obviously, if god defines good and evil then everything he does is by definition good. Like killing people in earthquakes and tsunamis. And, of course, everything his followers do is good. Like killing abortion doctors or flying airplanes into office buildings.

    Or maybe not…

    > I always called them pins…must be colloquiel. All the smart
    > people call them clubs maybe?

    All the jugglers call them clubs. Some are smart, some aren’t.

  15. [Ah, the old “god defines good and evil” argument! Obviously, if god defines good and evil then everything he does is by definition good. Like killing people in earthquakes and tsunamis. And, of course, everything his followers do is good. Like killing abortion doctors or flying airplanes into office buildings.

    Or maybe not…]

    It’s quite a leap to think that everything that kills people is evil and that everything that a follower of God does is good. I do not believe either of those things.

    BTW, you did not answer the questions I asked. Why is that? The question was, BTW, if there is no God, who gets to decide what is evil and what is good? And, how do we end up with a world that is more good than evil, in your mind? You are welcome to blow off these questions of course, it is your blog.

    Finally, it may interest you to know 2 things. In the wild, dogs spend more than 2/3 of the day sleeping in tiny burrows or caves. In addition, they do not have a concept of time. !0 minutes is like 10 hours to them. (This is why they are always so excited to see you, even if you just left 5 minutes ago.) There is nothing cruel, lazy, or selfish about a kennel. You can ask anyone one who knows about dogs. And actually it is for the dog’s good to be kenneled. It is much like they spend their time in the wild. But it is also for the good of the entire household. Do you see how this could relate to God, us, and our perception of evil?

    You once wrote that theists are deluded because of indoctrination from birth. That implies that people of faith are not thoughtful people who deeply reason what they believe.

    As a person of faith, I can honestly tell you that being a theist does not mean abandoning your reason and logic for the sake of piece of mind. The people I mentioned above were reasonable and logical people. In fact, being a person of faith comes from many different areas of experience including logic and reason.

    Many believe that they have had an actual spiritual experience that has led them to a belief in God. Others have had people they love have their lives changed by God. Those are significant events that cannot easily disregarded. Being thoughtful is obviously not reserved for the non-believer alone. Adam speaks of evolution and the progress of mankind. Yet most of the great leaps of progress of man in this age have been advanced by people of faith, not atheists. Granted people of faith have done horrible things as well, but this great country of opportunity and freedom was founded by people of faith who believed that we have the God given right to live free and in peace. Over the millions of years, evolution has naturally selected faith and belief in a God, therefore it has benefitted mankind in some way I would think.
    Also, I think Adam quite easily disregards the experiences of 5.7 billion people. That’s quite a faithfilled statement to say, “All 5.7 billion theists in the world are just hallucinating and we atheists are the only ones who have got it right.” You must have quite alot of faith to believe that only you are right and the rest of human history has been wrong. Aristotle, Plato, Jesus, every native American Tribe, in fact every human culture since the dawn of time has been wrong. Since the statement that there are no spiritual experiences is fundamentally unprovable, then it is a statement of faith to say they aew all wrong…you have more faith than I do.
    Imagine you are watching 1000 people walk into a room. Every person who walks out says there is a mighty tiger in the room or there is an incredibly beautiful lady in the room. Every so often, 1 person in 1000 walks into the room and comes out saying the she or he saw nothing. In fact the most logical conclusion about what you are witnessing is that they are all right. The most resonable response is not that there is nothing in the room, but that there is something in the room, though that 1 person in 1000 may not have seen it. Perhaps it is that 1 person in 1000 that is deluded not the other 999. That would certainly be the most logical conclusion.
    I deeply respect your very thoughtful stance on atheism. The important thing is that you are exploring what you believe, so many people don’t at all. This is what leads to bigotry and hate and evil, from atheists and theists alike. I do not believe that your stance is the result of delusion or hallucination. I simply believe that you have walked into the room, and you saw nothing. I am saddened that you would think that mine is not the result of thoughtful reasoning and personal experience. But I cannot change what you think. I only hope that you can respect those of us who think deeply about these things and have come to a different conclusion without think that we are all unthinking, delusional, or deceived. You must admit that, logically, the proof of legitimate spirtual experiences that transcend this reality seem to have afflicted the vast majority of humans who have ever lived, making it at least possible that these experiences are legitimate.

    If you are interested you are welcome to hear some of my thoughts on God. I think you will at the least find them reasoned and, if nothing else, entertaining.

    I have enjoyed this conversation. Even more, I am excited for what you, Vova, are doing to make this world a more beautiful place…If there was a God, I think He would be proud of you and fell that your hard work and passion is making this world a little more like heaven and a little less like hell. Something I wish I did more.
    Here’s me talking too much. :)

    http://www.pulpitrock.com/weekly/audio/players/tribe.htm

    Here’s an interesting article about one of the most famous atheists in this century.

    http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/atheist_believes_in_god.htm

  16. > It’s quite a leap to think that everything that kills people is
    > evil and that everything that a follower of God does is good. I
    > do not believe either of those things.

    So the victims of hurricane Katrina died for a good cause?

    > BTW, you did not answer the questions I asked. Why is that? The
    > question was, BTW, if there is no God, who gets to decide what
    > is evil and what is good?

    First, that question has nothing to do with whether there is a god or not. Second, to answer it: There is no absolute good or evil, just as there is no absolute good or bad music.

    > And, how do we end up with a world that is more good than evil,
    > in your mind?

    Check out Secular Humanism.

    > Many believe that they have had an actual spiritual experience
    > that has led them to a belief in God.

    Tell me, how can a spiritual experience tell you anything about the existence of a god? How can it tell you anything more than just something about the state of your mind?

    > Imagine you are watching 1000 people walk into a room.

    Right, that room is their respective brains. 999 people have brains that produce “spiritual experiences”, one person’s doesn’t. I don’t see how that says anything about the existence or non-existence of any god.

    Oh, and btw: How come Christians have Christian spiritual experiences, Muslims Muslim ones and Jews Jewish ones? And why do people belonging to whatever stupid sect there is have experiences concerning their beliefs? Are all religions equally true? If not, why doesn’t god send everybody a Christian experience?

    Oh, and I’m not Vova and I don’t know who you’re referring to as Adam…

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