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On the Matter of Belief in G-d

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on August 21, 2007


My very good friend Dale Husband commented on “The G-d Delusion Part 1” on my other Blog:

if you rely only on scientific methods for knowledge, without any input from any religious dogmas, then the idea of a Supreme Creator might occur to you as a hypothesis, but an untested, unfalsified, and therefore unscientific hypothesis is all that it would ever be.”

Which gave me reason to say:

“Correct. Which is why it’s both bad science and bad religion to mix them with each other. But it is equally bad science and bad religion to claim either redundant.

To me this is where Philosophy enters the scene – it is apparently possible to arrive at the hypothesis of a Prime Cause through experience, as well as it is to arrive at the hypothesis of a Non-Prime Cause through experience – but both are dependent on further elaboration of the experiential evidence from a personal stand point to have any meaning. From a philosophical point of view both are equally valid.
It is when we elevate unfalsified hypothesis’ to doctrine that we enter the realm of bad theology and bad science.”

I then had the idea that:

“One of these days I am going to give the justifications behind my personal beliefs, *lol* I seem to be running into the issue a lot these days.”

So I’ll have a go at it…:-)

I agree that there is no scientific evidence either to prove or disprove the existence of G-d, and in fact such evidence is not needed. Why is that? Because when we enter the realm of theology we also enter the realm of Belief, where there is nothing to guide the human mind but circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence is defined as ‘evidence providing only a basis for inference about the fact in dispute’. Basically what it means is that there is no hard, physical – scientific – evidence for the hypothesis of G-d being a reality in the Universe, but that it is possible to understand experiential evidence in such a manner. Circumstantial evidence is a weak form of evidence, but it is nevertheless a valid form of evidence. In matters of Law and Science it needs physical evidence to back it up, but for the purpose of personal meaning it works just fine.

When the Author of Tehillim/Psalm 8 says:

“When I see Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and stars that You have established, 5. what is man that You should remember him, and the son of man that You should be mindful of him? 6. Yet You have made him slightly less than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and majesty. 7. You give him dominion over the work of Your hands; You have placed everything beneath his feet. 8. Flocks and cattle, all of them, and also the beasts of the field; 9. the birds of the sky and the fish of the sea, he traverses the ways of the seas. 10. O L-rd, our Master, how mighty is Your name in all the earth!”

he is looking at the Universe and all the wonders it holds and from this experiential evidence he concludes that SomeOne is ultimately responsible for this abundance of wonders. That is my personal position. To me the existence of all those wonders, from the microscopic one-celled organism to the Planet Itself and the Space beyond it is inference enough to spark a Belief in G-d as the Ultimate Cause of it all.

I find it difficult to accept the idea that the Universe as it appears to me on a daily basis is the result of chemical and physical laws, without any form of Ultimate Source.

Carl Sagan wrote:

How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, ‘This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant’? Instead they say, ‘No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.’

I feel that he was mistaken on one point – what the Hebrew Scriptures actually convey in terms of the Magnificence of our Universe and its Creator and what we are told it means are not the same thing. What is the basic dogma of a religion and what is what its Scriptures actually say is rather divergent matters. The seeming limits of experiences in the times when those Scriptures were presented to the world are just that SEEMING. We assume that because there is no detectable preserved Scientific understanding of the Universe among the authors of the Hebrew Bible that such Scientific understanding didn’t exist. The arrogance of such assumptions is staggering, in my opinion.

I would also like to disagree with the assertion he makes about what people of Faith say about G-d. I disagree simply because as one of those People of Faith I do not describe my G-d as little, nor do I disregard what Science says about the Universe and it’s intricate and magnificent mechanisms and laws, on the contrary I accept Science’s assertions of these matters, and in my mind it only increases the Magnificence of what I believe to be the Ultimate Source.

As I have said in other posts:

Many years ago I resolved the seeming conflict between Science and Religion by looking at what questions they answer respectively on the matter. I think perhaps I intuitively knew that the conflict lies not between the two Disciplines, but between the Disciples of both, because the answer to the conundrum of Science vs Religion I found looks as follows:

Torah/The Bible/Religion answers the Questions “Who and Why?“
Science/Evolutionary Theory answers the Questions “How, When and Where?“

in my opinion Science as such doesn’t give MEANING to human existence. It provides us with a basic idea of what we are in terms of biological, chemical and physical set-up, but it doesn’t explain the ontological aspects of human existence. It doesn’t explain why we, as a cultural species seem to be on the constant look-out for something beyond ourselves. It doesn’t answer the existential questions of human reality.

Correctly or incorrectly, Faith does explain and answer these queries to an extent that to most people seems satifactory, or at least enough to keep us looking.

Belief or non-belief in an Ultimate Source is a matter of personal preferences.

Ultimately I believe in G-d because I want to, because I need to and because I have found no reason not to. Belief in G-d as a statement is extremely personal and while the theological workings of such belief can be questioned and should be, ultimately it all boils down to very personal and very fundamental reasons, that cannot be questioned other than by the individual.

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7 Responses to “On the Matter of Belief in G-d”

  1. parallelsidewalk said

    Very well written. I’m also writing a piece on Dawkins , using a different tack but this was illuminating.

    Like

  2. Yael said

    I was going to read and comment, but then I ended up on your other blog and followed a link to another blog and one thing led to another…..

    Like

  3. parallelsidewalk:

    Thank you! I am glad that I could provide a different angle 🙂

    Like

  4. Yael said

    Ultimately I believe in G-d because I want to, because I need to and because I have found no reason not to. Belief in G-d as a statement is extremely personal and while the theological workings of such belief can be questioned and should be, ultimately it all boils down to very personal and very fundamental reasons, that cannot be questioned other than by the individual.

    I think my life would be simpler if I could just walk away from all the God stuff, but I came wired unable to do so. I spent many years trying to get away from it all, but it didn’t work and here I am right back at it again. Now I’ve made some peace of sorts with it all I suppose, but….I don’t think it will ever be a done deal.

    The colors would go out of my life if I ever lost this sense of the vastness of it all, of God, of Torah, of knowledge, of wisdom. Wow! It’s all out there and I get to explore it to my heart’s content! Nothing else holds my fascination. I could easily spend the rest of my life doing nothing but reading, studying, and thinking about God and religion, especially as revealed through Torah and Judaism.

    If someone comes along and tells me this is all stupid and I’m wasting my time, my response would have to be, “So? What’s it to you?” No other person can know my soul, can know what I need in order to be a whole person.

    Like

  5. “I think my life would be simpler if I could just walk away from all the God stuff, but I came wired unable to do so. I spent many years trying to get away from it all, but it didn’t work and here I am right back at it again. Now I’ve made some peace of sorts with it all I suppose, but….I don’t think it will ever be a done deal.”


    Sure, it would be much easier not to be wired to pursue the G-d stuff, but not half a s fun :-P. I feel like the little boy constantly looking up at the night sky, or into a microscope and saying: “Dad… what’s the meaning of it all? Why don’t the sky fall unto our heads? Where do I come from and where am I going?”. Like you I have found some peace in the constant bustle of questions – but I really don’t think I will ever stop looking up at the night sky asking “Why, Who?”

    The colors would go out of my life if I ever lost this sense of the vastness of it all, of God, of Torah, of knowledge, of wisdom. Wow! It’s all out there and I get to explore it to my heart’s content! Nothing else holds my fascination. I could easily spend the rest of my life doing nothing but reading, studying, and thinking about God and religion, especially as revealed through Torah and Judaism.


    Now you are talking!

    If someone comes along and tells me this is all stupid and I’m wasting my time, my response would have to be, “So? What’s it to you?” No other person can know my soul, can know what I need in order to be a whole person.


    My waste of time is MY waste of time *lol*

    Like

  6. Yael said

    Like you I have found some peace in the constant bustle of questions – but I really don’t think I will ever stop looking up at the night sky asking “Why, Who?”

    LOL Now you know why I come over here to read. I love davening maariv outside just to experience the vastness of the universe as I make my connection to God each night. It’s kind of funny that I feel my greatest connection when I’m aware of myself as a tiny speck of nothing in the enormity of it all.

    Like

  7. (((Yael)))

    Like

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