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No, I Didn't Say That

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Posted by Paul R. Martin on April 15, 2002 19:16:22 UTC

Hi Scott,

Thank you for your reply.

***God has been mentioned only a few times on this site***

You may be basing that on only a small recent sample.

***Can the belief in God every be rationalized with a true belief in the scientific method.***

Harv said the question is ambiguous without specifying which of several "scientific methods" you mean. I say that the question is ambiguous without specifying which of thousands or millions of definitions for "God" you mean.

You may have seen a conversation here recently on the merits of defining 'God'. In it was an echo of an attempt I made some time ago at distilling out what I thought virtually everyone would agree was the essence of God, whether one believed such a thing exists or not. That "essence" was transcendent sentience. I thought that was exactly what atheists denied, and that the God of everyone's religion was other-worldly and capable of thought, intent, and feeling (i.e. transcendent and sentient). I thought that even the concept of the "Great Original Dilemma" of Dick's could at least admit transcendent sentience.

As it turned out, I got no agreement at all, that I can remember, that I had fingered any important attributes of God at all. I haven't seen any serious attempt in this forum to define God since.

But I have since come to think that Harv, sometime earlier, proposed the best, i.e. most useful, definition of 'God' yet. At least, it describes all historical uses of the term that I know of.

Harv's definition was that God is the explanation for everything for which we don't have another, more satisfactory explanation. He called it the "God of Gaps". Some posters even called it GOG for a while.

His definition also satisfies me. After all, a transcendent sentience can be used to explain any and all mysteries.

So, now, let's use the GOG definition to look at your question. It now becomes, Can an explanation for all things we cannot otherwise explain be rationalized with a true belief in the explanations for things which we can explain? Why, yes. They are exactly complementary. We have all those things which science can explain, and then we have GOG for everything else.

Your original question asked, Can the belief in God EVER be rationalized... The answer is clearly, "Yes", if you accept GOG as the definition of God.

(Notice the beauty of this definition: It would predict that over time, as science explained more and more things, the domain of GOG would continually diminish. That is exactly what we see has happened over the course of human history. I guess the only remaining question is whether it will diminish to zero or will there be some ultimate domain for GOG inaccessible to science.)

Anyway, good question, Scott.

***Has the advent of skepticism killed [GOG]?***

No. It has only suggested that his domain will shrink to zero.

***Nietzche said that God was dead?***

Same prediction but a little premature.

***Has science killed God?***

Not yet. It remains to be seen.

***And if not, isn't it only through major rationalizations and justifications that we can rectify the differences between belief and skeptical attititudes?***

I would change "rationalizations and justifications" to 'thinking and reasoning', and then I would say "yes". That's what we all should be doing.

***Won't religious devotion always conflict with questioning and contemplation.***

Thank you, Scott, for giving me one more opportunity to spout off on one of my hot buttons.

I think religious devotion is healthy and good and I recommend it to everyone. Furthermore, I believe that questioning and contemplation should comprise the major part of that religious devotion.

The thing that will always conflict with questioning and contemplation, and which I deplore and oppose, is the institutionalization of "religious" precepts as the "property" of religious organizations. It is the organization of religion that has caused so much evil in the world; not religion itself. It is when people let "religious" authority figures tell them what is "truth", and willingly chant or recite those creeds, that the thinking in the individual comes to a grinding halt. When that happens, the individual is in a vulnerable position and the authority figure can then get them to willingly execute fatwas, light faggots under witches, drink arsenic laced grape juice, join crusades, fly hijacked airliners into buildings, deprive sick children of medical care, tolerate sexual abuse, and on, and on, and on.

Warm regards,

Paul

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