Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The God Delusion

Would it have killed him to smile?

A recent Gallup poll found that 93% of Americans believe in God. That is astounding. Such a high percentage. On what other subject do so many Americans agree? The number of people who are certain there is a God is 73%. I guess those lucky folks don't have to live by faith anymore.

What astounds me, as someone who became an empiricist nel mezzo del cammin di sua vita, is the lack of evidence for a God and yet so many people believe in their god while denying the rest - Ra, Buddha, Allah, Moloch, Baal, Zeus - and the rest of the many hundreds (maybe thousands) of Gods that were once worshiped but have know fallen out of favor.

Believers will probably tell me to look at the simple fact we exist or a baby's face and the diversity around me and tell me to deny the evidence of God. And I will. There are natural explanations for those things, biological evolution chief among them. Then maybe someone would say that a god started and guided that process. I'm still doubtful, but open to the possibility. But that god is certainly different than the God I was raised to worship, the Heavenly Father who hears and answers prayers and intervenes (and sometimes chooses to not intervene) in the lives of his children.

I'm talking about real evidence. Something that points to a supernatural being instead of a natural answer that requires no such thing. First hand witnesses of God are no good, unless they happened to be caught on tape. I would bet a large number of that 93% that believes in God still thinks that a person who says he has seen God (and converses with him regularly) is a kook (and yet Joseph Smith and others get a pass).

Feelings are useless as evidence, by the way. How far would a lawyer get if he based his case on a feeling rather than evidence? I get the same sensation from a movie as what I used to think was the Holy Ghost.

There's that stupid saying, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." Actually, it is evidence of absence. Until there's evidence, we have no reason to think anything is so. Who is agnostic on the existence of unicorns, dragons, elves, fairies and Santa Claus? There is no evidence for any of those things, and none of them have a large following (except children on the last one because of stories adults tell them).

Yet so few people are agnostic or outright disbelievers in God even though there's just as much a paucity of evidence and much more plausible explanations for things people like to chalk up to a divine being.

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