Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Is God Dead?

A question that theists often ask atheists is, "If God does not exist, then why do so many people believe in him? Do you really think that almost everyone else in the whole history of the world is stupid?"

I do not believe that people who historically believed or currently believe in a god or gods are stupid. I believe they are acting on an evolved, basic human need.

I also believe that the basis for this need is diminishing rapidly, and that eventually (though probably not in my lifetime) we will further evolve to lack this need.

The number of people who identify as non-religious, atheist, agnostic, etc., is growing rapidly. This begs the question:

Is God dead? Or dying?

More specifically, has the anthropomorphic theistic god morphed over time into the more ideological pantheistic god, and possibly on to the mostly benign deistic god?

Philosophically speaking, I do believe that this is what is happening.

While I don't believe that the theistic god(s) ever literally existed, I do see where the world once had a need for it/them.

In early human history, there was the perception that everything that was not caused directly by humans was magic. Lightning? Magic. Earthquake? Magic. Solar eclipse? HOLYSHITMAGIC! When people have very little to no understanding of the natural world, they construct their own explanations. Humans have a need to understand why things happen, and history has shown that we will satisfy that need; when presented with a question for which a real answer is not readily available, we will substitute our own artificial reality: the God of the Gaps.

As we have evolved and developed, humans have sought knowledge; we have hypothesized and tested and learned. The god of the gaps has become the answer to fewer and fewer questions.

How do plants grow?
Old answer: God
Current answer: Carbohydrates are synthesized from carbon dioxide and water using light as an energy source; otherwise known as photosynthesis.

What makes a rainbow?
Old answer: God
Current answer: The refractive dispersion of sunlight in drops of rain or mist.

What created the Universe?
Old answer: God
Current answer: The Big Bang. Probably. Actually, we're still working on that one.

My point is, the trend is that eventually, science tends to answer the questions. Will we ever have a solid answer for where the Universe came from? Maybe. Will we ever know for sure what happens when we die? Maybe. There's no way of knowing right now what we will and will not discover; but that does not mean that the answer is God.

There are still many today, the majority, in fact, who cling to the idea of the father god, the creator, as the answer to the questions that remain a mystery; but the fact is that with technological advances and easy access to instant worldwide communication, the gaps are closing faster than ever. Someday there will be no need for a supernatural explanation for anything at all. Eventually, people will have no choice but to concede that their religion is no more than superstition, and it has been replaced with knowledge and reality. This is, essentially, the death of God.

Update: This post is essentially a repost of a response I wrote to a forum post by khalis at Nashville Gothic. I initially did not reference the post for the sake of anonymity, since I had not previously mentioned that I am in the Nashville area. But fuck it. If you're here in the first place, you're at least thinking about atheism, right?

And I couldn't possibly come up with musings on Nietzsche's idea on my own.


Aidan said...

What, didn't feel like giving credit where credit is due? A thief of ideas has none of their own.

- Khalihs -

Aidan said...

As stated on Nashville Gothic, I am ignorant of Nietzsche's philosophy. But as this post was made on December 1st, using words directly respondent to my post on NG, it was pretty clear it was influenced by my post, and not Nietzsche; who wasn't even referenced until this point.

And no; it means that I followed you to your blog from NG.

I only consider Atheism in the same sense that I consider other thoughts on religion. They are equally valid, and invalid; neither is absolute, though both claim to be.

Agnosticism is the only rational stance: "I don't know, and neither do you."

(I am, however, 'irrational' in this sense, outside of a philosophical discussion on merits. I do actually ascribe to personal, spiritual beliefs. They just have no bearing in a disempassioned discussion of philosophies.)

KiwiInOz said...

Aidan, you come across as a complete an utter wanker. Now I can't be totally sure that you are, so consider me agnostic about the issue.

However, I am without a belief in gods (atheist), irrespective of whether I can know that there are gods or not (agnostic). The two positions can be considered orthogonal for the sake of argument.

N said...

Ah, Dr. Kiwi. My knight in shining armor. Kisses to you. ♥♥♥

Aidan and I got off on the wrong foot at Nashville Gothic; but we're cool now. Mere mortals are powerless against my charm, you know. *wink*


Aidan said...

If Kiwi is representative of the 'intellectualism' I can expect to encounter on this blog, disregard my statements. We can keep our conversations to NG. When someone has to resort to base insults vs attacking the merit of an argument, and then throws out statements that are irrelevant to anything stated, they show a lack of interest in discussion. I'm not going to bother if thoughts contrary to yours will be attacked simply to gain brownie points with you. It is the lowest denominator that needs to attack the person versus the argument. Thank you for the Ad Hominem, Kiwi. Have fun with your ignorance.

Sorry, N; if I wanted to deal with idiotic distractions, I wouldn't have ever left Topix.

If serious discussion isn't welcome, I have no place on this site.

- Out -

KiwiInOz said...

My pleasure, dear Lady N. May I have a token before I ride off on my quest to insult the philosophically astute but socially inept?

Aidan, my stating that you come across like a complete and utter wanker is not an ad hominem. That was my reflection on your approach.

Had I said that you are a wanker and, because of that, your argument sucks, now that would be ad hominem.

Agnosticism is a rational position, in that one is without knowledge of X. But given the probabilities associated with other lines of evidence, particularly around claims to the features of various entities called god/s, atheism, or being without belief in those entities is an equally rational position. As I stated, they are orthogonal positions.

Care to discuss?

N said...

I have to say, Aidan, if you don't want idiotic distractions, you seriously don't want to be here. I both welcome and produce idiocy along with serious discussion. I like to have fun. Being too serious all the time gives me wrinkles.

And the word "wanker" makes me giggle madly. Because I'm 12.

AphroditeRising said...

Um. Why am I suddenly turned on?

I am so not agnostic about this issue. I know exactly why the fuck I'm turned on.

mmmm. Frost my cake. That was quite an exchange, boys (I am, however, agnostic about whether aidan is a male, but I'm playing the odds).