Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Some Thoughts about Belief in God

A friend of mine sent me an email that forced me to think about my own faith and evolution as a believer. So I wanted to share a few thoughts about the matter. You may not know that I still consider myself a Catholic although I'm now more inclined toward 18th-century Lutheranism (probably because of all the Bach church music I listen to). I attended Catholic school, was an altar boy, and embraced the church as a youngster — although I’m pretty secular nowadays, a lapsed Catholic I suppose one could say. But I still believe in a creative God or whatever we could call it, especially while listening to Bach's cantatas.

For me, the fine-tuning of nature is one of the strongest arguments for the existence of God. This argument points to the precision and complexity of our universe, which suggests that it was designed by an intelligent being. I think it's fair to say that many people today see the concept of God as nothing more than a construct of our human minds. I believe that there is no one answer to this question. Each person's perspective on this matter will be different. Personally, I am undecided on whether or not I believe in the exact concept of God taught in the Catholic church. I'll let others argue the fine details of theology and Catholic catechism. On the other side of the coin, I think the idea of atheism being a wish fulfillment holds a lot of credibility. I think atheism is as much a faith as anything else.

My parents were believers in God, and so were their parents. They were all strong Catholics. So of course , growing up I believed in God and still do.

My reading on the subject has taken me down some rather wonderful, dark, and ridiculous paths. I read Richard Dawkins book The God Delusion, in which he proposes the question of who designed the designer, in other words, who created God. The problem for Dawkins is that this is an old schoolboy question that assumes God was created. I'm not surprised Dawkins titled his book The God Delusion, because created gods are by definition a delusion. However, in order to weigh Dawkins' argument, we need to know what he means by "God." (Dawkins never actually says what he means by this.) If he means "a god," then we are reduced to thinking about created gods, which none of us believe in. No one with any real intelligence would propose such a preposterous idea, although Dawkins seems to.

For some reason, intellectuals, especially the Brits, argue that David Hume argued the most persuasively concerning the impossibility of a supernatural world. However, I think there are two things we need to bear in mind about Hume. Firstly, he didn't believe in cause and effect — on which the laws of nature are founded. Secondly, he didn't appear to believe in induction — which is the principle upon which our scientific knowledge rests. So I don't think he's an authority we should necessarily rely on when discussing miracles.

CS Lewis made a valid point . He argued that when we see the beauty of something, like a garden, we don't automatically assume there are fairies at the bottom of it. We know someone created and designed the garden, and we appreciate their intelligence and creativity. In the same way, Lewis argues that when we see the beauty of nature, we don't automatically believe that it was all just chance. There must have been an intelligent designer behind it all.

Lastly, I want to say something about religious bigotry and hatred. I’m inclined to hold quite a bit of anger at American evangelism and the Pentecostal movement in general, especially since the evangelical churches all seem to be in bed with the alt-right and the GOP. But I always check myself because I've always believed that bigotry and hatred of religions is a dangerous path to take. Being anti-Catholic or anti-Muslim or anti-Mormon, etc., is not far removed from anti-Semitism. And we all know how that has turned out historically.