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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Believing: Intellectually

(Continuing Day 3)When someone says I (do not) believe in God there is an intellectual/rational aspect to that statement.
   We all analyze things and make decisions based on our analysis. [As an aside, most of us, most of the time, do not do very deep analysis. We are too busy, have too little information, are not up to the task and are sometimes a bit lazy. It is important to be honest with ourselves about that!] There are numerous philosophical arguments for the existence of God. Some of them can be reduced to the statement: "God is the best explanation for the world" (popularly expressed as "where did all this come from if there is no God?") The complexity of life is a genuine mystery. How does inert stuff (atoms) become a concert pianist? Where does the human desire for eternity get generated? How come we recognize morality is real? Is the wide spread belief in gods across time and culture a freak accident? When atheists talk about evolution why do they slip into language which implies intentionality and direction? If life has no meaning why do so many of us need meaning to live?
   It is not my intent to do complex apologetics here. I am more pointing out that apologetic arguments do exist. The point I want to make is once one has come to a conclusion intellectually, there may be some degree of rational certitude without an accompanying emotional connection. In other words, I may reason that God exists, but really do not care in a meaningful way.
   An example,  I believe George Washington existed. I have read books and visited historic sites. However, I also know history is always subject to revision and new information. There is room for doubt. I can not "prove" that George Washington existed to someone intent on not believing it. A person can say it was all made up and come up with a theory which "sounds" reasonable. (Isn't that what Hollywood is based on?) In the end most of us would say such doubt is silly. But believing George existed may not really motivate us to embrace his thought or inspire us to imitate his life of service. We can say "I believe, but who cares."
  Believing God exists is more complex than believing Wahsington existed. In the end, I think the philosophical arguments show it is more reasonable to believe in God. But having argued for this belief, I still can live my life without caring about this God/god. So my first point is this, intellectual arguments are only a part of the answer. For many of us, a very small part. More tomorrow

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