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If God Exists, So What?

I’m agnostic, meaning I fail to deny that God exists. Sorry, I just don’t have the same conviction as many of my friends and indeed most of my family. Just so you know that I’m not a completely useless fence-sitter, I admit I think religion is a cancerous blight on human potential.

After repeatedly banging by head against the inexorable wall of fundamentalists logic, I’m ready to prepare a second approach to the God question. Next time someone tries to convince me that God made the world, and therefore merits my unending devotion and prayer, I will blankly reply, “Yeah, and so what?”

God, as master and architect of the universe, is highly qualified to be my object of eternal devotion; however, as an agnostic, I cannot in good conscience verify his existence. In light of this blemish on his résumé, I regrettably rank him at the bottom of my list of candidates.

There are verifiably real entities that deserve real praise with their limited capacity. None of them have done anything so grand as shape a nebula or choreograph the stars, but they’re done much to affect my stupid little life in an undeniably positive way:

3. Steve Jobs
My universe in microcosm, Apple products and software pervade and greatly enhance my daily life. By and large, the creativity and ingenuity that goes into the products I enjoy is far greater than I can appreciate. If I’m going to be in wonder of something, I might as well pay due praise to the enterprise, and to the ringleader I may physically bump into on the street, or at least spot his creepy bar-coded Mercedes.

2. My Mother
God may have designed the universe, but I know for sure that my mother made me. She didn’t do it with a holy word, but by shaping me out of her own flesh. Her labors did not end with the actual labor, but in any case I’ve been a lot longer than 6 days in the making. To this day, she still makes some sacrifices for my well-being.

1. Stars
The energy stored in everything I consume, and everything my mother consumed while carrying me is nothing more than concentrated starlight. Whether it come from fossil or nuclear fuels, or whether it comes from more direct photovoltaic sources, the electricity which powers my laptop comes traceably from stars. Hydroelectric power does not depend on starlight, but you can bet your entire fleet of freighters that building the dam did, as well as the very molecules that push the turbines therein.

I can individually verify that these entities not only exist, but are responsible for their respective effects on my existence. However Mom, Steve, and the cosmic firmament couldn’t give a flip if I kept a special wardrobe for entering a building consecrated to pondering their revelations. I’m sure Mom and Steve would find it outright creepy.

On the other hand, we might have had a better world on the whole, if only we took the time normally devoted the invisible man in the sky and simply listened to our mothers more. I suppose you might call me a “mater-ialist”.

Based on what I observe in the attitudes of the observable architects of my existence, I would take an intuitive stretch to assert that God would not have a positive response to my spiritual devotion either. If he ever appreciated any prayer offered by a man, he certainly does not care at present. I observe that religious people, overall, are as happy in their life as a godless heathen like me. I’ll still be up early Sunday morning, but probably because I keep programmer hours.

One Comment

  1. John C. Randolph wrote:

    Stanislav Lem wrote a story called “Non Servaim”, that dealt with this exact question. The premise was that an AI researcher was observing the conversation that several of his creations were having about him.

    The researcher was quite literally their god; he had created the universe in which they lived, he could alter it at will, etc. One of the creatures made that point that “if god, then nothing.” Nothing at all follows from the premise that a god exists, precisely because a god is presumably all-powerful. If it wanted to be adored, then it would be. It does not follow that one owes any debt of gratitude for one’s creation, because there’s no way to know the purpose of that act, or to know that it’s better to be than not to be.

    The narrator of the story went on to observe that he didn’t love the creatures per se, and that the idea of rewarding some of them and punishing others for believing in him or not was morally repugnant.

    For my part, I find the question of god or not to be unknowable and therefore uninteresting. The promulgators of religion usually are trying to control my behavior in some way, and to claim authority from an untestable premise is ridiculous.


    Monday, July 7, 2008 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

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