Saturday, March 5, 2011


Now you will be wondering, if belief in God need not make us good, what is the benefit, now, of believing in God? Sure, in the by and by and hereafter there's all sorts of fab rewards. Like, uh, harps, and clouds, and, uh, choir singing. Very musical, and, um, meteorological.

It's a complex question -- if it were easy almost everyone would have the same religion, or none. So the real question should be, is there a God at all? In other words, what is real? We determine what is real by testing the matter. You know, science: organized knowledge. Organized: the imposition of order upon chaos by the application of intelligence; knowledge: what has been determined to be true. Intelligence: awareness of truth. Truth: things as they are. We're talking about testing reality.

How can we do such a thing? Descartes was very fretful about, well, everything. He didn't even know how he knew he existed. We went over this some years ago. He choose thinking as his proof. Seems a subjective choice. Why not feeling, or perception, or will? The Buddhists would have desire as the proof, and cause, of existence. Why not memory? Or the sense of continuity we call the self? All of these things can be distorted or deceived or deceptive. I think that all certainty is moral certainty -- that which we know, by faith and assertion, to be true. We trust our reason, our memory, our perception. Moral certainly is all there is, mostly because nothing can be satisfactorily disproven, without agreement. Yes, it's all very circular.

So it doesn't pay to get too philosophical about these things. That's the reason I think philosophy is crap, and a waste of time. I love to argue, or used to. Eventually though we gain some maturity, and care more about what is than about what is not. The answer then, to get back to the original question, about God, is science.

Theories have to make predictions, the results of which must be observable, testable, falsifiable. Obviously what cannot in some manner be observed, even indirectly, cannot be tested, and so cannot be falsified. So when we mix precise measures of chemicals together under the same conditions, we demand the same result. We demand uniformity of physical laws. When we talk about supernovas and Evolution, observations and tests and outcomes become so mired in ad hoc assumptions that by strict definition we must consider them hypotheses -- they are thought experiments, and whether true or not, are mostly about faith. To find rabbit bones in Precambrian strata is not a falsification of Evolutionism. Special pleading is always possible -- by definition, if it has rabbit bones, it's not Precambrian ... if it's Precambrian, the bones must have migrated there.

So. Complexity exists. Randomness never produces organization -- only order, patterns predicable from the nature of the material. Agitated aggregates stratify, smallest particles lowest down. Snowflakes are beautiful, orderly, and complicated because of the way water crystallizes. Complication and complexity are not the same thing. Organization, as opposed to order, is the imposition of intelligence onto a system. It is a surprise, nonpredictable. Nothing in the nature of silicon atoms predicts a computer microprocessor.

Everywhere we look in the material universe, we find that entropy, the principle of disorganization, is the presiding law. Energy is always becoming less available for work. The Sun is wearing out. The universe will end in heat death, as a cyrstal, utterly still, absolute zero, with not even the movement of an electron. Or maybe not. Maybe everything just goes on forever, in perpetual motion. But observation predicts otherwise, of the material universe.

But we're talking about God, which means the whole universe, material and nonmaterial, physical and metaphysical, natural and supernatural. And yet we're talking about science. No contradiction. Because there is organization, not just order. There is intelligence, not just randomness. Either, then, the merely physical can get metaphysical, and rationality is invented, and life is Evolved, out of chaotic and inert matter. Or. The material universe, imbued with life, is the artifact of something greater.

Is this true? Atheists say it's not. Such is their faith, that they hold that science requires testing and observation, except when it comes to the tester and observer himself. We just are. Life just is, just happened. And with this happenstance of intelligence, which might as well be something else, we judge. Rationality, fathered by nonrationality, is to be trusted.

Doesn't make sense to me. I prefer consistency. I prefer inductive reasoning, using specifics to construct general rules. Enough observations give us the right to draw conclusions. The universal conclusion of observation is that randomness does not create complexity, organization, intelligence. Life.

Atheists, then, and their beliefs and nonbeliefs? They have too much faith for me, and too much emotion, and too much irrationality. I need order, and consistency.

God loves complexity, and simplicity, like following a light through a storm. I'm sure God loves happiness. I know he loves joy. He requires pain, too, which is a fact hard enough to make us atheists. But sanity agrees with reality, no matter how unpleasant.

I haven't been to church in ten years. I don't know that I'll ever stop being angry with God. I am a stiff-necked man, and I'd like some obvious blessings before I'd consider myself called back into the fold. No shepherd has left his flock to seek me out. I have now the blessing of a good friend, but what of my wife, and lost sons? Everything Job lost was replaced. I'm not good, but nothing has been replaced. Friendship is a new thing to me, and I'm not very skilled at it.

It has to do with encouragement. Once, long ago, at a very hard time, I said to someone on the phone that I didn't see how I could go on living in a world like this. His sharp "Hey" pulled me up short, out of my self-pity. It wasn't encouragement, but it threw me back onto my sense of duty. No matter what, we don't give up. We are always sane. We are honest.

We don't always love, though. Or feel loved.

And that's the answer.


1 comment:

chuck e. boy said...

Don't know why you equate going to church with having faith in God.

As if going to church would somehow be an admission of faith.

Frankly, given the sad state of expressions of faith in this country these days, it might be best if you stayed out and sought God on your own.

I don't recall Job going to church.