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A Shot in the Dark

Posted by Ryan | Filed under Philosophy

There’s something that’s always bugged me about religious arguments; the absolute certainty of both sides. On one hand you have the standard theist who says ‘Without a doubt, my god exists and is the singular correct god.’ Obviously that’s ridiculous, but isn’t it equally ridiculous to say, ‘Well I don’t know what the answer is, but it sure as hell isn’t that.”

What is faith, really? Believing something without question, right? A while ago I was speaking with someone who was very much an atheist and, as they were ranting about how stupid religious people are, I realized that they were as fervent and adamant in their belief about the non-existence of god as the very people they were insulting. I got to thinking, isn’t it the very same faith? On one hand you have unbacked, unsupported belief that one thing is true. On the other, you’re making a claim that has some circumstantial evidence but no direct proof and believing that is true, often without a doubt. And often with an awful lot of contempt.

I consider myself an agnostic, and unlike most atheists I don’t consider it “fence sitting” or “being a pansy”. Being agnostic to me is simply saying “It is impossible to know whether or not God exists.” Now, I’m not talking about religion mind you. Religions can be disproved because they make claims centered in our world. The earth was created 6,000 years ago, for example. This claim, regardless of the efforts of radical Christians across America, has been proven false. All of that aside, the central claim that there is a divine entity that created the universe and governs it with its almighty will can not reasonably be proven to be false.

There’s plenty of arguments against this and all are logical fallacies. The bottom line is that the argument makes claims that are outside the bounds of our universe, and thus outside of our capacity for perception. “Haha, but Ryan,” you might say with a broad, condescending smirk, “Does that mean you believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster? Or what about Santa Claus and fairies?” Of course not, but what are you claiming? That a magical fat man flies house to house and drops presents into fireplaces? You can disprove that by finding the parents receipt. That is not the same as claiming that god created and runs the universe, a claim that cannot be either proven or disproved.

I believe that any reasonable minded person will have to admit to both possibilities, that god may or may not exist. To say with scientific certainty that God, without a doubt, does not exist means that you must have some evidence to prove that statement. And when it all comes down to it in the end, science simply is not at a point that it can provide that. When confronted with this argument, most reasonable scientists will agree (much like Dawkins), but reply with “Well, I’m 99.999999% certain god doesn’t exist.” This allows for the possibility, technically, while saying that they’re almost certainly right. That is also incorrect, or at least not logically viable. How can you come to a figure of 99%? The definition of probability is: “the relative possibility that an event will occur, as expressed by the ratio of the number of actual occurrences to the total number of possible occurrences.” When coming to a figure of objective probability, you need some factual data to quantify that figure. What possible data can contribute to this assessment? Whether religions have been proven false? That some other Gods have been proven to not exist?

Probability doesn’t have a memory, my friends. It doesn’t care that no gods live at the peak of Mt. Olympus, or that the sun does not orbit the Earth. Does the Judeo-Christian God exist as the divine creator of our universe? It’s a shot in the dark folks, 50%. Yes or no.

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