Molong cloudset, NSW 2011

What is God? Is God?

I stopped looking for a God as some powerful and perceptible being or person, and instead came to believe in an all pervasive consciousness that seems to be the glue keeping the universe together, harmoniously, and functioning quite well. All the natural forces we see are but traits of that universal reality. Because beauty, harmony, and connectedness are also divine traits, humans who express these in their lives reflect divinity in the process. On the other hand, ignorance, hatred, and violence reflect a lack of connectedness with that divinity.

Clearly, many see the positive traits above as but human superimpositions on a chance universe. That may be, but more and more theoretical physicists see a patterned and harmonious connectedness that transcends and yet is the root of all that we perceive as reality. The work of physicists like David Bohm are relevant here. Patterns and harmony suggest consciousness and knowledge, not chance.

These are the words of ex-Hindu monk, professor Ramdas Lamb from the University of Hawai'i. He is writing in the On Faith pages of the Washington Post, answering the question, "What makes the best 'case for God' to a skeptic or non-believer, an open-minded seeker, and to a person of faith and Why?"

Lamb concludes with these words

Personally, I would much rather associate with "atheists" whose lives express beauty, harmony, and connectedness than with "believers" who are too busy trying to get everyone else to think and behave like them and who feel justified in condemning those who don't.


Lamb says

Clearly, many see the positive traits above as but human superimpositions on a chance universe. ... [but]  Patterns and harmony suggest consciousness and knowledge, not chance.

He is honest about his unknowing.

Another author, Crispin Sartwell writes about Faith-Based Atheism

Religious beliefs are remarkably various. Taoists, Rastafarians, and Christians have as many differences as similarities, and there are many Christianities. But there only seems to be one atheism. It asserts on the basis of reasoned argument that belief in God is irrational. The "new atheists" - Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Daniel Dennett, for example - pit reason against faith, and declare for reason.

But there is more than one way to skin a god, and there are many ways to be an atheist. I'm an atheist, but the exclusive reliance on reason in atheism strikes me as impoverished, unfortunate, and self-deluded.

After all, even if we simply define 'atheism' as the denial that God exists, this claim itself has corollaries and entailments of the largest scope. Atheism pictures the universe as a natural system, that is, a system not guided by intelligence, and not traversed by spirits: a universe, among other things, that yields to scientific explanation, because it consists of material objects operating according to physical laws. Atheism is taken up, in short, as part of a whole stance toward the universe, a theory of everything.

Belief and unbelief do not simply consist of a particular claim and its negation, but of different whole pictures of the world, from its most general organization to the particular character of each event. Such world-pictures cannot themselves be shown to be true or false by science, or indeed by any rational technique. They are all matters of faith, stances taken up by finite creatures with regard to the infinitely rich surround. One does not produce reasons for such things; one lives them.

He concludes

I propose an unreasonable and modest atheism, an atheism that relies not on supposed proofs and the lack thereof, but on a sense of the way the world is: an atheist faith.

Both authors are honest about something many of us avoid. We act on a feeling about the world, a hunch, long considered though it may be.  We rationalise what we feel. We can't prove it, in the end, however much support we find for our philosopy of life.

How honest are we with our rationalizing?

Do we accept Ockham's Razor for the bridges on which we cross the river, but rule it invalide when we posit young earth creationism to comfort our fears? If we do, Dawkins et al are right to mock us.

Do we claim a high view of logic, and then insist only atoms exist? Dvir Abramovich says

The telescope and the microscope that Hitchens says has made religion redundant, does not answer for us why we are here and what is the purpose of human existence. Atoms and black holes leave little space for expounding on the measure of man, sin, holiness, dignity and the human spirit, sorrow, beauty, love, alienation and mortality.

He quotes Lord Winston

... there is a body of scientific opinion from my scientific colleagues who seem to believe that science is the absolute truth and that religious and spiritual values are to be discounted.

Some people, both scientists and religious people, deal with uncertainty by being certain. That is dangerous in the fundamentalists and it is dangerous in the fundamentalist scientists.

How are we to be certain, then? Have we claimed an unreasonable certainty?

Sartwell says "... in order to believe you must do more than look at the argument, you must decide to live according to its results..." which resonates closely with James 2 and Matthew 25. There is no faith without works, the living out.  It is from there that a certainty arises.

Dvir Abramovich's article is here.
Crispin Sartwell's article is here.
Ramdas Lamb's article is here.

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