"What embitters the world is not excess of criticism, but an absence of self-criticism." - G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

- Insert cliched shakespeare quote here -

In the interview a couple of posts below, Denys Turner makes the claim that in order to be a “proper, card carrying, atheist” you need to find a way of avoiding a certain question: Why is there something, rather than nothing?

It’s an interesting, and extremely important question. However, I don’t think that it really poses a great difficulty for an atheist such as myself, as there’s an extremely simply, but perfectly valid answer:

I don’t know.

That’s it. In some of the discussions I’ve had, both here and elsewhere, the theism/naturalism debate is treated almost as if it’s a zero-sum game – if naturalism doesn’t have the answers, then theism must be onto something. But for me that just doesn’t flow. It’s quite possible to completely demolish the naturalistic conception of the universe without providing any validation of the ‘God Hypothesis’, as they’re merely two separate attempts to explain why things are the way they are.

The theistic argument can’t just be a case of: “If naturalism can’t explain it then there must be a God”. Like any theory, it has to be built up independently.

In the same way, dualism is quite distinct from theism. It's quite possible - though I don't personally believe it - that morality is dependent on an aspect of the universe that we've yet to discover. Saying this merely suggests that there's still something for us to learn about what we call reality. It says nothing about possible deities. To say that there is “something” more than the material universe out there is to say nothing about the nature of that something – it’s worth bearing in mind that the discoveries we make about the universe in the next millennia or so are more than likely to be beyond anything that we can currently conceive.

The universe is a mysterious place, and we’re far from having all the answers. But that in itself is absolutely no argument for God.

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2 Comments:

Blogger The Tin Drummer said...

Quite right, Matt. I also can't help getting a bit concerned in case we _do_ discover everything - then what? Physicists suddenly spend much more of their time down the pub, I suppose.

"I don't know" is a wonderful phrase. If it had been uttered more during the last century a lot of needless deaths could have been avoided. I say it as often as possible, though not on the blog, of course, as that is not the place for considered expressions of one's ignorance.

3:05 AM

 
Blogger Rev. Dr. Incitatus said...

"Que?!"

9:46 AM

 

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