Sunday, July 09, 2017

God is not the answer

Reflecting on some apologetics I've been listening to recently, and on a book I'm reading at the moment, I have realised that quite often "God" is not an adequate answer to the question posed.

For example, how did life emerge out of non-life? Or how did consciousness arise out of non-consciousness? Or where do 'objective' morals come from?

In each of these questions, and many others like them, the apologist finds the answer in God. But God is not a satisfactory answer to any of these questions. God cannot explain the origin of life, because we assumed that God is and has always been living - God merely gives inanimate matter a property he already possesses. Similarly with consciousness, it is assumed that God has always been conscious, so consciousness really has no origin. Likewise, God has always been moral, so morals never began anywhere. 

So the God answer does not actually answer the question. In each case, proposing God as the solution is really saying "you're asking the wrong question, that thing you think had an origin really didn't and has always been." So the question is never answered.

The next layer of questions, however, are never asked. How did God become living? When did God become conscious? How did God develop his morality? The believer assumes that God never became living, or conscious, and he certainly didn't ever develop any of his attributes.

For the believer, therefore, the fundamental essence of reality (i.e. God) has always possessed a complex set of attributes and properties. Kind of like the so called 'fine tuning' of the universe, a set of fundamental properties that must have been there since the outset, and could not have changed or developed.

So which is it, did all of reality start out with a complex set of improbable parameters, or did all of reality start out with a complex set of improbable attributes and personality traits and sentience?

Both options seem ridiculously improbable, and yet here we are. What I can't see is a good reason why the complex personal set of attributes should be more likely than the complex impersonal set of parameters. Indeed, if I had to weigh up the two seemingly improbable options, Occam's razor might suggest we should cut off the 'more complex' option including personhood. But there's not a lot in it.

Where we end up is one of those places where 'I don't know' is a perfectly valid answer. Indeed, it is impossible to truly 'know' one way of another, using only this line of thinking. But with regard to this issue alone, there is no compelling reason to choose theism over atheism.

By the way, "42" is not a satisfactory answer to the questions either...

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