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← Believe It or Not

Steve Zara's Avatar Jump to comment 14 by Steve Zara

What utter rubbish.

I'll post this again, if people don't mind, as I know some people don't like being directed to blogs.

It's why atheism is reasonable, in my view.

In the past, gods were personalities living here, on Earth, who were magical and responsible for natural phenomena. They lived just over those mountains, where the tribe had never wandered in their hunting journeys. But then we looked, and those gods were not there. Then the gods were raised up to the peaks of the mountains. They lived in Olympus and other luxury elevated apartments. They worked miracles, even wandering down to visit mortals and showing them the delights of randy swans and golden showers. But the stories were always of a friend of a friend, and when we climbed to the top of the mountains, we saw no gods. So, the gods were raised further into the skies. That refuge for the supernatural was destroyed when Galileo looked through a telescope and saw the moons of Jupiter, and Newton showed that the behaviour of heavenly bodies was neither heavenly nor magical. Then, miraculously, under the stare of the telescope, heaven disappeared. It became not a place in the physical world, but another domain, until today God has to try and desperately fiddle below the level of the quantum to try and get anything done.

The nature of what God could be has also changed. Our understanding of the human mind grows daily. We have fortunately started to pass the sad stage of seeing how disease and damage to the brain change not just how people think, but who and what they are. Now we can experiment non-intrusively with magnetic fields and we can watch tiny parts of neural networks operate with electrodes. Religious experience and adult moral judgement can be turned on and off at the flick of a switch. Not only do we see no minds that aren't based on physical substrates, but we are learning how minds arise from those substrates. In the forseeable future we will know why physical substrates process information that lead to what we call "belief in mind", and then the story of dualism is ended. As is the idea of a supernatural mind. When mind is recognised as software, and recognises itself as software, the question to be asked is where and on what is that software running? The Creator's mind will require an awful lot of fatty tissue or carefully designed silicon. Without that foundation, without that mind, God becomes nothing more than some vague creative essence. Nothing that can love, or protect, or administer heaven, or forgive sins.

So, over the millenia, gods have changed beyond the furthest imaginings of the earliest believers, to the point where the term has little meaning, other than some sort of vampiric spirit, who can't stand exposure to the light of reason and so struggles desperately to hide in the gaps of ignorance, cowering behind question marks.

There should be a limit to our patience. We don't have to search within each sand grain on rocks around every star before we can finally say that there isn't a god. There really isn't.

It's time to get on with our lives and accept that there is no higher authority than us, and we are responsible for our own actions. That is the dignified way to live, not to scrabble around desperately for any excuse to keep believing in the idea of some homeopathic deity, diluted out of existence by reason and science; the idea of that deity kept barely alive because members of a group of hominids, not much more than a species of chimp, can't escape the prison of their limited minds, and insist that the universe is a cave carved to keep them safe.

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 13:20:00 UTC | #461785