A Word on God


Yes, so the name of this blog could be deemed as vaguely controversial by some (although it is vastly more likely to be ignored by most).

In order to set the record firmly crooked, I’m a born Jew who tends to represent myself as a card carrying atheist when drawn into theological debate. The truth about my belief system is slightly more complicated.

I firmly disagree with the view of Steve Gould that religion and science deal with non-overlapping magisteria, its just that the two are incommensurable, or at least very difficult to compare. Leaving aside the issue of moral judgements, codes and principles, there is no doubt (in the traffic jam of my mind at least) that religion attempts to be pretty prescriptive about the workings of the universe and science is quite capable of making judgments about whether our world follows a rigid set of laws or is occasionally influenced by supernatural forces. Boom, overlap.

The loaded use of the term “atheist” is tricky. What exactly is one supposed to not believe in? Its odd how to some the concept of the Greek gods is easily dismissed as ridiculous but the son of the jolly bearded man in the sky being born of a young, Jewish, possibly married, virgin is, well, canon.

To complicate the issues, most of the messages of the gospels (of the religion that has come to dominate the western world) are actually quite enticing – comprising a pacifist doctrine to assist the poor, critique the rich and powerful, and avoid judgement of your moral rivals, in some cases even the morally corrupt. And it remained that way, well of course until Emperor Constantine put the iconic Cross on the shield of the Roman Empire effectively transforming a symbol of love and understanding into an icon for violence and oppression. Which is what the church (and in fact almost every other religious institution wielding such power and influence) seems to have stood for ever since.

I enjoy theology far more as a study of human psychology than as a study of the paranormal and I enjoy science as the study of how stuff works (why are pubic hairs curly?). I definitely don’t like to use EITHER to evaluate my own moral philosophy or system of ethics. That is the province of reason.

The interesting thing that science has done in the modern age is shift the burden of proof (again, for me at least). Whereas, before annoying pranksters like Newton, Galileo and Darwin started fucking with things, god was the default position for explaining the universe, it now appears that the explanations take a little more work than reliance on pretty Aramaic prose. So “science does not make it impossible to believe in god but it does make it possible to not believe in god”.

So I won’t judge you for your views on religion or god, just don’t tell me to have sex in a certain way or avoid certain types of food because your Big Book of Truth tells me that I have to.


4 Responses to “A Word on God”

  1. Mr Memetic Says:

    Jesus died for your sins.

  2. dazz Says:

    And I thank him for that.

  3. Mr Memetic Says:

    You won’t get a chance, where you’re going…

  4. Confused Says:

    Are you sure? It doesn’t sound right. Jesus died thousands of years ago and I was only born in the 70s?

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