A return to the Blog!!!
I cannot quite believe quite how long it’s been since I last blogged… the evil Facebook monster has been eating up my time.
Thusly, to rectify this situation:
I was listening to Radio 4 in the morning a few days ago, and several eminent persons were having a discussion about religion. One of the speakers came out with the oft-heard line of argument, (to paraphase) ‘well I don’t believe in God, and don’t understand why others do, because I no-one can prove to me that he exists’. Despite not being of a religious bent myself any more this angle of thought always irritates me slightly. Surely the whole point of a ‘faith’ is that it cannot be proven: it is a ‘belief that is not based on proof’, according to Dictionary.com. Your strength of conviction that something is true when it cannot be substantiated is what makes you ‘religious’ or ‘faithful’. If there were proof for any particular religion this belief system would simply be truth and there would be no ‘faith’ required to believe in it.
5 comments by 1 or more people
Right. So what makes it any different from insanity? For example, let’s imagine you believe that there are little goblins flying around your house, and you spend all day trying to swat them; or perhaps you believe there is an elephant in your back garden, and every morning you put out a tray of food for it trying to make it go away. Generally speaking, these behaviours would be considered, well, insane. Why is religious “faith” an exception?
This is a bizarre statement – what are you saying? That if God announced Himself tomorrow all of a sudden Christianity would be obsolete because it would be proved true and no longer require “faith”?
01 Mar 2007, 15:17
I’m not trying to suggest that religious belief is particularly less insane than swatting invisible goblins! Indeed, I’m sure there are many who’d put them on a par. The only difference, I suppose, is that we could ‘prove’ that the goblins aren’t there through simple observation, whereas proving that a god doesn’t exist is a slightly more difficult task!
If faith is defined as a belief that is not based on proof then yes. If a god annouced their presence then believing in their existence would no longer require faith: it would instead be a simple truth. I guess the religion itself would become obsolete because everyone would realise that that which was previously speculation was in fact truth: there would be no need for anyone to be ‘converted’ any more.
01 Mar 2007, 15:49
Your point about proving the goblins aren’t there is interesting. I can look for goblins, find none and am reasonably confident that they don’t exist. I can also look for god, fail to see him/her/it and am reasonably confident that it doesn’t exist. I guess I don’t see any difference at all, it’s just that God is an idea that is put to us more often than green goblins.
01 Mar 2007, 16:32
It rather reminds me of the Babel fish argument in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which runs something like this:
I refuse to prove that I exist, says God, for proof denys faith, and without faith I am nothing.
Ah, says Man, but the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you must exist and therefore, by your own arguments, you don’t.
Oh dear says God, I hadn’t thought of that, and promptly disappears in a puff of logic.
As Sarah points out, you cannot disprove a negative. And even if we came up with a perfect theory of the universe’s origins, backed by substantial empirical data (seems unlikely in my lifetime, anyway), you could always ask why the universe bothers to exist, and find a reason for a still-unseen God in that. One cannot therefore prove that God doesn’t exist, although that does not provide a reason for his existence any more than that of the Goblins (who might just choose to reveal themselves only to me, hence you can’t disprove them either).
The distinction between proof and faith, if there is one, is always being blurred by things such as ‘creation science’ or ‘intelligent design’ or whatever it goes by these days. I’ve also seen some worrying things in school textbooks which can’t help introducing ‘God’ into even the most mundane of scientific topics. Needless to say, bringing the church into the state is also something rather troubling of late.
05 Mar 2007, 09:46
Lisa: “They are teaching us Creationism in school. We had a test today, and every answer was ‘God did it’ “
Sometimes the Simpsons knows best.
05 Mar 2007, 20:53
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