Speaking of God

Your question on how to convince an atheist there is a God reminded me of another question I have been meaning to ask. **The necessity to have a childlike faith seems to hold true if one is to believe, as it seems the scientific approach will never lead there even if there is a God. (Well, maybe after xxxxxxx years of gained knowledge.) **My question is, what is your opinion of why humans find nature so pleasing (if it was not something planned)? The type of thing that makes me want to lean toward belief is how we really enjoy the sound of the birds, they way the sky looks, etc. It seems extraordinary that chemical reactions, light reflextion, and random life happenstance is often so pleasing to our senses. **Though I am sure you will mention numerous unpleasantries, I am wondering if you ever feel the same way in that it seems there is a certain harmony to the world the points to some sort of intent. ?
Atheist Answer: 

The scientific approach has thus far been very good at finding alternative and, importantly, useful explanations for the supposed actions of gods. Once these explanations are known, to reject them completely without contrary evidence is unsupportable, and not just childlike but childish. (I'm not suggesting that you've done so, Celia.)

Which is easier: for nature to be shaped over millions of years just to be superficially pleasing to a single future species, or for that species itself to develop an appreciation of nature at its calmest and least threatening?

We find scenes of blue skies, green plant life and twittering birds pleasant because they usually indicate a non-threatening state of affairs. We've learned to distrust grey skies because they might sweep us away in a flood, or snow down and freeze us to death. If the plants are anything but green, something is killing them (drought, fire, disease, etc.) and might kill us too if we don't move away. Birds don't sing if they think there's anything around which might want to eat them, so their song tells us certain predators are absent and gives us a deep down feeling of security.

There is a certain harmony to mostly untouched ecosystems, and it is indeed fascinating, but it's based upon a set of life forms each of which has developed ways to survive the others. As you thought I'd mention, and as Darwin wrote, "Nature is red in tooth and claw," no matter how green it appears. That's why I used the word "superficially" above; many levels of violence are always just below the surface image.

- SmartLX


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Keeping in mind it's best to keep an open mind

Hey SmartLX, I see your point, but I also feel things aren't necessarily so cut and dried.

I don't believe feeling that there might be more to the whole thing than scientific facts is childish (though certainly many do go so far). I think it would be more childish to not keep our minds open enough to realize we probably know a small percentage of the whole truth and that with science comes art.

Many things in life have a large subjective component. One can logic their way through anything (just as one can go to the opposite extreme), but it does not mean that is the whole truth. I am poking around for what I will able to find and comprehend in my lifetime, but I certainly feel it's probably not all black and white.

Your thoughts on being attracted to what represents peace and safety makes sense, but I (and I am certain others) am not just attracted to the blue sky and perfect moments in nature, and I don't believe only a single species finds pleasure it such things.

I really enjoy this board. :) It's so nice to find others who are interested in sorting through this existance we woke up in.

I must also tell you that I find it very hot when a couple of you intelligent guys go back and forth. LoL My boyfriend (all of 50) said maybe I should change my name to Cougar. :)

Thanks again for having this site. It is so nice to have access to the info and various points of view that is almost impossible to find in typical conversation with people.

Rainy days

You're welcome Celia.

I tried to say that the only childish part is dismissing the scientific explanations entirely, which you don't do. As you say, they do make sense to you. Thinking that they're ultimately inadequate (especially the simplistic versions I lay out) is perfectly natural, and scientists think they are too. That's why they're constantly examining them and trying to improve them.

I think that everything happens for a reason. That sounds very religious, I know, but the difference is that the reason is in the past, not the future. If a piano falls on a man, it's not so that his children can experience loss, overcome grief and grow to be stronger people. It's because somebody or something dropped the bloody piano.

If we are attracted to things, there is a reason for it. I'm like you, I don't just like the nice things about nature. I like rainy days and I find a cheetah's kill on TV fascinating. I think it's still because these things appeal to my deep and ancient instincts; encouraging relief that there won't be a drought, or indulging my hunter instincts vicariously.

The human superego is adept at rationalising these things so that they seem more considered and less primal, but rationalisation is usually all it is. Just because we can give a good intellectual reason why we feel something doesn't mean it's the real reason. Importantly, neither does that mean that the real reason is unexplainable, or supernatural. It just means it's worth thinking about some more.

I know what you are saying

I know what you are saying about things happening for a reason. Even when I was a traditional Christian, I believed in cause and effect and anything beyond that would simply be what one could learn from it or an enlightenment on thought process but not a purpose for the event.

It seems we are very simple minded and complicated at the same time. Maybe the entirety of this world/life is that way. It looks as though fine lines separates everything but often appear to be gaping.

To me the whole thing seems supernatural because though the processes make sense to us (or those who can understand them) now scientifically, whatever got the ball rolling I cannot fathom.

How do you feel about whatever it was that started the whole thing (big bang) ... about the fact that "something" always existed?

P.S. Do you think that animals will ever evolve to the point of having so much empathy, that they will stop killing other animals for food and find another way to get nourishment?

Extra answers

If "something" always existed and the universe is eternal going back before the Big Bang, then there was no need for a creator. If the universe had a true beginning, as apologists work very hard to establish, a creator still isn't necessary because according to most such models time itself didn't start until the Bang and therefore the idea of something existing "before" it is nonsensical.

If the universe was not eternal and indeed had some kind of precursor, a god is about the most complex, exotic and therefore unlikely thing it could be. It is probably something exotic but more simple (like the quantum foam of some theories) or complex but more commonplace (like another, more stable universe).

Unfortunately I never

Unfortunately I never developed an abundance of neuro pathways in my left brain, but sometimes it seems like there is a hang up on technicalities in these types of conversations. Like, the part about, "...according to most such models time itself didn't start until the Bang and therefore the idea of something existing "before" it is nonsensical." That sounds like a something a lawyer would say. :) Time is only a label we use anyway, right?

"Something" had to somehow get here or have been here always for things to progress from what science has discovered forward, correct?

Do you wonder what it was or how it got here? Does the science community have an overall opinion on that or varied?


Time is only a label, but that which it's a label for is very important. The whole idea of "progress" depends on the idea of cause-then-effect. If time is stationary and nothing follows anything else, it becomes difficult for anyone to envision causality. That's why the possible beginning of the universe is so hard to figure out, even for scientists. "Something" probably did have to be there, but it's easier for it to have "always" been there if there was no prior time to spend.