Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Pourquoi Dieu Ne Disparaitra jamais (Why God will never disappear)

Reference: All the scientific numbers and facts are extracted from the Number of Science et Vie #1055

A while back, when I posted an entry about God. I received a comment that I felt I needed to answer but the timing wasn’t great back then, because I was in the middle of my exams… So here it is (with some delay).

We biologically Need God… We believe in God because of how we are, regardless of God’s actual existence.

Definition(according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
  1. The supreme reality :esp: The being worshipped as the creator and ruler of the universe
  2. a being or object believed to have supernatural attributes and powers and to require worship
  3. A person or thing of supreme value

When I say that we are programmed to believe in God I am neither denying God’s existence nor am I trying to anyone to atheism. But there are facts stating that the belief in God is a universal phenomenon, right? But every religion claims to monopolize God. Some people argue that the universality of the belief In God is a proof that God exists but humans somehow lost the “knowledge”. If that was so, then why is the concept of God so radically different, some religions believe in more than one God, some believe in no GOD but a certain superior “existence” or “material”… In brief, something superior that we should aspire to.

In fact, we want to believe in God, regardless of reason, we even create an image of God that goes against reason and denies the individuals the right to question God. If there is anything that unites all religions is the belief that God is some force that exceeds us, a perfect force that we want to get close to. Unfortunately, no such force has proven its existence, for all of us, God’s what ever we see that’s perfect and most powerful! God could do anything, but God won’t. Why? Each religion gives a different answer to human suffering which contradicts God’s supremacy and perfection, but eventually no religion has given a satisfying answer, at least as far as I’m concerned.

In spite of this “rational vacuum” in religions (if not to say contradiction), all religions seek to prove its righteousness through some supernatural events. You have river splitting, child killing, healing, resurrecting,warrior God… Sometimes you have a moody God… And that’s just a sample of the supernatural stuff that a God can do. We simply try to justify everything that God does just by saying: well, it’s God, God can do anything. This arbitrary authority given to divinities is probably a way to promote the socially submissive prototype of human beings, where obeying God is unconditional, then his representative’s obedience is unconditional and by extension almost everyone’s obedience is unconditional, thus pacifying societies by teaching not to demand anything.

However, in many religions, some Gnostic and Sufi currents appear, that mainly promote direct contact with the divinity and encourages individualism as the best way to reach God (the only real being that’s sublime and therefore deserves to be obeyed). This meant that all of these currents were severely oppressed by the political authorities (in the name of God of course). Many might be tempted to believe that these thinkers are the best sources for knowledge and maybe that’s another proof that God exists. One of the most spectacular supernatural manifestations of religions are the meditations that most religions recommend, the trans situations where the believers feel as if they are united with GOD… Unfortunately again, these experiences only disenchant God even more, because it’s a physical phenomenon. It is proven that those who practice such meditations witness a measurable variation of the cerebral activity. It’s no secret that by reducing the activity of a certain part of the right hemisphere has anti-depressing effect (I know I should elaborate better this point but I am too tired). So it isn’t God that takes you to that great place it’s your physiology.

But most people believe in much easier and simpler concepts. I see no magic in religions and deities. And I assume that this problem has been so huge and so old that religions were aware of this problem and used a very old trick: Metaphysics and miracles. From hallucinogens in early Stone Age to miracles and demonological manifestations. Did you ever notice that, for example, that the Christian church (Christianity being the most widespread religions) gives a primordial importance to miracles? Ask an average Christian to prove that Jesus IS GOD, his answer would be: Miracles! I am a Maronite Catholic that was raised in a Maronite Catholic environment and went to a Maronite Catholic school and what was I taught to believe in as the cornerstone of my belief? What’s the ultimate proof that Jesus was not just another prophet? He died and he was resurrected! What a surprise, Judaism denies Jesus’ resurrection and Islam denies Jesus’ death in the first place… That’s what we rely on to prove supremacy.

I will repeat myself again:

God has never really given any real evidence of his/her existence… Not one evidence, not half an evidence, NOTHING.

What can I say, Science et vie has beautifully phrased that by saying:

Croire en Dieu? En general, c’est le mot “Dieu” qui reticent l’attention, focalize les débats. Comme si le fait de “croire” était une disposition parfaitement admise, pour ne pas dire naturelle. Et justement, c’est le cas!

Quick translation:
To believe in God? Usually, it’s the word “God” that retains attention and causes debates. As if “believing” was a perfectly admitted, if not to say natural, disposition. And that’s exactly the case!

This practically condenses what I still want to say. Believing in God, or maybe the better word would be having a religious feeling”, has been around for as long as man has existed, and maybe before. It was traced back to the Australopithecus around 160 000 years ago, when this pre-human used to collect stones and items that resemble humans, indicating that they are capable of giving certain object metaphysical meanings [ref: S&V #1055]. And the first decisive proof of spirituality (sepulture) is traced back to the early humans, with both Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis some 100 000 years ago (sepultures discovered in Skhul and Qafzeh, Israel). The first Gods were also discovered in the Middle East some 10 000 years ago… That’s long before the present religions, which can either mean that we biologically need to believe in a divinity (any divinity what so ever) or that God almighty has allowed human beings to remain in the darkness of sin and ignorance for more than 100 000 years ago… Oh! Not to mention that it would also mean that we as humans are not the only ones to see God, bashing the concept of the Human superiority against other creatures.

SO why would a Lie be so popular and universal? Maybe it’s beneficial.

Let’s not forget, Religions and Gods give absolute answers to unanswerable existential questions. Judaism/Christianity/Islam/most religions represent death as a new birth, a transition; some religions actually resolve the fear of death through reincarnation. In brief, Death no longer exists.

Other questions are also given magical answers:
  • What to do with our money?
  • Where are the keys to eternal happiness?
  • what are the rules of interaction between humans?
  • How to have sex?

Religions simply think for us, it’s like a more sophisticates social organization. It appeases our fears and makes us feel like we are part of a bigger group… The group of the “right ones”. That alone is an evolutionary benefit that none can deny!

But that’s not all; S&V posts the results of a Swedish research, showing a clear correlation between religious feeling and the concentration of a certain serotonin receptors names 5HT1A (an inverted correlation). The less receptors there are, the less serotonin is consumed, the more there are available in the blood.

Eventually, I look back at all what I have written and I think to myself: What have I proven? What was my point? Some might think that I have just proven that God exists while trying really hard to prove his absence but in the end, the only thing I wanted to prove that God is something we believe in, just believe; none can define, experiment or find God… Does God exist? That’s anybody’s guess, we just know one thing, that soft feeling you feel when you pray and become part of a community… You’d feel it whether God existed or not!


jokerman said...

I couldnt read all the blog but i disagree about one thing, that God hasnt proven he exists.
Now if you pass by the pyramids for example, you conclude that someone designed it & built it, now with this universe, to see this earth & how everything in it is functioning according to scientific laws, the way it IS cannot be a series of random events, thats without looking further into humans & how man & animals are made. ddi man erupt out of earth just like that? a cosmic ray or phenomena created man? with all his senses & abilities?
God exists but why does anyone want to see him? Do you have any idea what it wouldve been like to have a visible god in the sky? It destroys the concept of creation, free choice.
as for atheists, they are a bunch of fools who think they know it all more than anyone else, so clever that they are dumb. They would acknolwedge that something created earth & the stars, nature they call it...the problem with God is the monopoly of humans on religions, man turns relgion to b a tool for his domination over others, instead of being a guide to interactive humanitarian affairs, or a guide for ethics & justice, as you see men of religion defend their job, they are not defending God.

Nomad said...

monotheisms have monopolised the abstraction of a god, but I think he is no abstraction, his "spirit" is in nature as chamanism still experiments it

as far the "miracles", christians religion stole them more in ancient pagan religions,(kind of sorcellery) as far the first christians were not mentally ready for a new dogme, they still need some "marvelous issuing" to get in

shlemazl said...

In the USSR they had an organization which united writers. It was called "Writer's Union". One of the members was interviewed on the television once. He was asked what he thought about Shakespeare, Tolstoi, Dostoyevski... The man said that he had never read any of them. He explained that he was a "writer" not a "reader".

shlemazl said...

Once I've read a theory explaining why certain people in history or legends are quite so popular. For example Odysseus was really popular in Ancient Greece. Apparently he was the first human in Greek mythology who actually acted himself rather than was driven to actions by gods.

The paper went on to argue that up until ~2000 years ago and even after that a lot of people genuinly "saw" gods giving them advice and things happenning to them in the same way as schizophrenics "see" things and people. In the view of this guy Jewish prophets actually "saw" God giving them instructions and so did other ancient priests, shamans and others. Over time human brains evolved and the proportion of people who "see" things went down and now such people are considered to be crazy. Based on this theory all religions have been established by schizophrenics.

Your article does not go quite that far but would be consistent with that paper I've read a few years back.

Einmal said...

Scientifically speaking, it's possible for humans to have evolved, now I do agree that every scientific discovery explains an evolution but never a start but in terms of evolution, the appearance of humans is very natural and not really magical, natural selection and changes of habitats are powerful enough to make all these changes.

I agree

No I didn't go that far because I am not convinced

Chris in MB said...

You're reminding me of all those infamous medieval church relics, used almost as a side show in their time, to attract new members to the congregation & raise funds! Hehe, actually they are still very popular & taken very seriously in Central & South America!

"the way it IS cannot be a series of random events"
Personally I like this theory. I don't mean to be a smart ass, just that given infinite chances & time concurrently why not? Perhaps we're the proof? Hehe, just kidding, that's kind of circular reasoning isn't it.
Judging the likelihood of such things happening or not in terms of our own concept of reality is pointless. It's like applying Newton's laws to quantum physics (shlemazl help me will ya :P), it just don't want to work with those sets of rules. We need new rules! :) This sort of thing can't be viewed as we would a lottery ticket.

" as for atheists, they are a bunch of fools who think they know it all more than anyone else"
Hey, that's not very nice! I for one usually don't open my mouth on the subject much anymore. Stopped being an annoying arrogant argumentative atheist ages and ages ago, actually!

einmal, that was one hell of an essay! oh gee, I shouldn't try & be funny......Sorry, it's 3:30am, can't sleep, & I'm operating on half a brain cell. But seriously, really I mean it, it was enjoyable to read & think about.

shlemazl said...

Watch out Chris, you are confusing Jokerman with logic AND you are disagreeing with him.

Won't be long before he calls you a racist.

Chris in MB said...

shlemazl that's not nice. No need for such preemptive strikes. Joker & I have never interacted before. Besides, with you as my body guard what worries do I have? :P

Wow, I just realized! You care, you really do care about me don't you! :X

NOMAD said...

church relics might be a tool but thesame place as pagan religionsare still used, same dates, renaming them...

anyways they were religions as well,

I am not religious, but sort of primitiv animal spirit :lol:

Einmal said...

haha chris I had to read that more than once to understnd the joke:P

Chris in MB said...

einmal, yes I know I'm lame :(