Saturday, 24 March 2007

Does it matter whether or not God exists?

I am becoming increasingly convinced that it doesn’t. The truth or otherwise of the existence of a supernatural being or beings will never be conclusively decided in the absence of proof that convinces non-believers, and arguments around the topic merely cause bad feelings between people of good will who would be better employed bending their energies in solving the practical problems bedevilling the world.

What really does matter is the consequences of religious belief, as manifested in the actions of those who are self-professed disciples of the competing faiths of Jehovah, Jesus, and Allah. The hatreds and conflicts generated by these people rend the fragile fabric of peace into shreds, and endanger everyone all over the world, whether believers or not.

It only takes one person or group to make a quarrel; it takes both sides to make peace. It is futile to talk of peace when one side, or both, have no genuine wish for it. This is clearly the present position in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Both sides are stuck firmly in blaming mode, protesting that the conflict is the fault of the other. There are well-tried conflict resolution techniques aplenty, but they are not likely to get a look in until both parties to this and any other conflict are ready to put the past behind them and to consider the future realistically.

While religious myths retain their grip, this seems a remote possibility. And time is fast running out. Whether God exists or not, his devoted followers, alas, do.


Jose said...

While my views coincide with yours about the generalisations you make in the main body of your post, I have to dissent as to the Palestinian issue. This is a different question, perhaps the object of another post, because the Palestinian issue does not seem to me and others to have anything to do with a contrast of religions as I infer from the whole of your post - perhaps I am wrong and you'll be so kind as to warn me about it - , it is altogether something different.

anticant said...

I don't want to write a post about the Palestinian issue - it is debated interminably elsewhere. But you surely cannot maintain that religious conflict has NOTHING to do with it? That is far too extreme! I agree, of course, that there are many other factors. It seems to me to be basically a territorial dispute, and one for which the British bear a heavy responsibility because of that cynical circle-squaring exercise, the Balfour Declaration.

Unfortunately the British, and now the Americans, have for 200 years regarded the inhabitants of the Middle East as 'disposable'. They should be left alone to sort out their own destinies. As everywhere, most people in the region want peace. But they also want justice, and they have their own conflicting versions of this. I don't know how these are to be reconciled, and - pending unlikely changes of heart - the situation is set to remain a mess.

Richard W. Symonds said...

Personally, I think God and religion are used as excuses...

If one person starts killing another - for whatever reason - that gives reason for another to kill - and so it goes on through time immemorial.

Man is the problem - and he is pitifully unaware of it.

anticant said...

More of an alibi than an excuse. The true blasphemy?

Jose said...

Alibis are also excuses. I am in agreement with you, Anticant, with the addition sent by Richard. It's man and nobody else the cause of all our ills. That he knows or not, Richard, is also another question.

I avail myself of this occasion to say that I'm having problems with my server and my reactions may take longer than usual at least durin this weekend(cross my fingers)even e-mails may stand unanswered.

Happy weekend to all.

Emmett said...

AS Detective Joe Leaphorn says, in one of Tony Hillerman's books about the Navaho Tribal Police, "I have learned to believe in evil...." Probably a lot of the trouble is that, at this epoch of the universe, our awkward molecular embodiments mean that we /cannot/ all get nourishment from the /same/ sandwich. We identity individuality with these particular physical envelopes & their instinctive loads, of anger fear, greed & lust, and laziness. Hence, there will be war. /All/ of the -isms /do/ attest our capacity, however, for "hope". In terms agreeable to the scientific-minded, I would say this /hope/ is in something like evolution, more and more "consciously" directed now that Nature has become somewhat aware, in our persons. /Consciousness/, ah, there's where the shoe pinches, eh?

Wook in the Mist

Richard W. Symonds said...

Ah, Emmett, "consciousness" - that is indeed "where the shoe pinches", and we have as much idea about our "Consciousness" as we do about "God" - or "ssensuoicsnoc", or "dog" if you are dyslexic.

Emmett said...

THE Great thing to keep "in mind" (hee, hee!) is that the physical individual has evolved a number of defencive reponses which favour survival on this molecular scale of existence. In our rather-complex critter as Idries Shah [pbuh] points out, this includes the wise-cracking response, which goes far to minimise distracting impacts & enables the organism to persist in its course at any given particular moment. The great problem is that what favours "survival" on this physical scale often inhibits the perception of other scales of existence with a notably-lower signa-to-noise ratio.


Emmett said...

[In reply to a question from the audience, how can religion and science /both/ be true "at the same time?"]

"Two-valued 'reasoning' is the holocaust of /understanding/.

"So to paraphrase Dr Mengele, a researcher and /soi-disant/ hygienist of the late gaean period, on Old Earth: 'Creationists to the right -- Darwinists to the left!'

"The really creative work of human being in all cases is done first of all in the imagination -- and the common hazard to religion and science, as well as the imagination which alone can make anything of it all, is the crippling effects of 'education.' Most of this in fact is hysterical conditioning.

"If you doubt this, here is an experiment you may try for yourselves in the fashion of the aforementioned Mengele:

"You must first obtain either a scientist or a muslim. Engage the afflicted individual in a dialog of questions about their beliefs. At some convenient point, in a tentative voice, introduce the following concept in the form of a question:

"'Couldn't there be SOMETHING of value to the ideas of the science, or religion, in which you believe?'

"Over time, keep track for yourselves how many times a response is at least calm and reasonable, even if your respondent doesn't accept your point -- and, how many times the person simply flies into a rage and starts calling names.

[Mahound Nadgemee in lecture to 'Peace Corps' trainees, Fes, Morooco -- 1979]

s/Wook in the Mist