Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Random thoughts on God and religion

Whilst walking my Labrador Retriever this morning I found myself ruminating on the arguments for God. I wondered if my dog is cognizant of God. I think not.

As I walked through the forest I considered the old question of whether a tree that falls in the forest when nobody is present makes a sound. The correct answer is no. Sound requires something to propagate waves in the air and something to receive those waves and interpret them. Both things are essential for the existence of a sound.

So, here is the thing.

If no humans existed, ever, would there still be an argument to be made for the existence of God? If yes, then who would make it? Does the existence of God depend entirely on the existence of humans?

The Abrahamic religions tell us that God created humans to worship and obey him.

We know that the Universe is about 10 billion years old. We know the Earth is about 4 billion years old. We know that modern humans first appeared about 100,000 years ago. We believe on the best available evidence that the modern human brain functionally capable of contemplating God first came into being about 50,000 years ago.

So, here is the thing.

What caused God to create a creature capable of knowing of his existence 50,000 year ago? Why not 100,000 years ago? Why not 100 million years ago? Pick any time frame. What was the burning need in God to have a creature capable of contemplating him and worshipping him and why did this need arise only 50,000 years ago?

Questions. Always with the questions.

And here is another one.

We know that Islam discourages the graven images of humans, and that Muslims get very angry at depictions of Mohammed. Yet I have never heard of Muslims creating a ruckus over depictions of Allah, of which there are many in the history of art in Western civilization.

Why is that? How is that Mohammed takes precedence over God? Why does he get to have urban riots in his name because of pictorial representations, but not God? I was in the Sistine Chapel a couple of months ago and noticed a few Muslims gazing up at Michaelangelo’s painting of the Almighty. It did not seem to ruffle them.

And yet another one.

This one I have to attribute to Melanie Phillips in The Spectator.

Why all the fuss over the Jewish settlements in the lands claimed by the Palestinians? Just take the necessary steps to inaugurate the state of Palestine and let the Jews who live there become citizens of the Palestinian state. After all, the Jewish state has a significant number of Arab citizens. If the settlers don’t like that prospect, and I am confident they would not, then they can move to Israel and free up the settlements for Arabs.

In short, it is a self-correcting problem and making into the kind of deal-breaking condition precedent to peace is a red herring.

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