God might exist, but the Abrahamic religions are an obstacle.
I found PolicyMic pundit Kenneth Ewell’s ongoing series, arguing in favor of the existence of God, well-argued and compelling, but they have also prompted me to respond with a more fundamental assessment of God’s existence. The premise in my article is that a non-physical realm of consciousness likely exists, but the models offered by Christianity, Islam, or Judaism are not the right method. My hope is that quantum physics – the marriage of the material and immaterial – will lead us to find the fundamental mechanisms of the universe and what principles, and whether they are intelligent at all, guide all (non)physical processes in our universe. The entire system is intricately balanced; everything exits in relation to something else.
All human civilizations in recorded history have a notion of deity and the non-physical existence of consciousness. Its origin is uncertain; it might be knowledge bequeathed on us by a prior civilization – and the best way to preserve a memory of something, provided all written evidence is destroyed, is through myth – timeless, self-reproducing stories that are embellished and change over time, but whose core remains constant.
The practical experience of Christianity, Islam and Judaism is not flattering. All are monolithic religions – those outside of them are perceived as inferior or unenlightened; the historical record for conversions – be they the creation of the Ottoman Empire, the destruction of Mesoamerican civilizations by the Spanish in God’s name or the Reformation – is far from humane. In modern times, it is s somewhat more civilized, but still frowned upon to say the least – for example, abandoning Islam is the gravest possible sin an (ex?)Muslim can commit; Christianity fares a little better – at least we don’t burn people for thinking differently any more, but the Pope’s recent remarks make me wonder. Europe during the Middle Ages practically ran under the Church – back then, civilization happened to be outside of it in the East, not the West.
The Old Testament, for those who do not know, is the common source to both Christianity and Judaism. Its pages are full of war, murder and genocide. God, Jesus’ father, is irrational, megalomaniacal, murderous, and strangely human – hardly the traits of a superior spiritual being, and more so along the lines of the more darkly psychopathic members of our species. Totalitarian obedience is the norm in the Old Testament – any deviation, however superficial, largely means death for the “perpetrator.” The New Testament, conversely, severely limits the direct presence of God, and Jesus Christ is the main intermediary between man and deity, effectively drawing attention away from the essence of our religions.
For this reason, when we talk about God, atheists perhaps don’t have it fully correct – but neither do the established Western religions. The Hindus worship the Indus, the ancient Greeks had a pantheon of gods and demi-gods, and I believe monotheism is largely a step back for humanity’s development. The question is to move beyond it. Christianity is unable to explain how people before it lived their lives without being saved.
A core contradiction: God is omniscient and omnipotent. This assertion is an oxymoron and mutually exclusive on itself, and fails a basic logical test. If you know everything in all time, you can’t do anything about it, because the path is set and pluralistic access to that information renders worship useless. If you are all-powerful, then there is simply no purpose to knowing everything that has or will happen, because you can determine that path.
Currently, science is largely preoccupied with the physical world, and operates almost purely within it. The spiritual does exist – else it would not be a constant feature of all human civilizations – but for it to become tangible to science, more time must pass. Quantum physics will eventually reveal the fundamental laws of the universe – here, understand the dynamics that govern non-physical realms, their interaction with the three-dimensional world and the force underscoring their entire interaction on a cosmic scale – and that moment will be the death of established religions, because they need to disappear for humanity to truly transcend itself. The personification of a god is a fundamental mistake.
Why do we still feed millennial illusions of a God? For two reasons – finite life and finite, incomplete knowledge. The humanistic principles Ewell espouses through Jesus Christ are translatable to the common sense of humanity, before and after Christianity.
On an ending note, let’s say you’re a God, somewhere up in the sky ... why would you concern yourself with an unremarkable species on an average planet, in an average solar system, in an average galaxy? If you have access to controlling cosmic processes, then a semi-intelligent species that can’t even agree to live together on the barely noticeable speck of dust it occupies would not even make the footnotes. When the perspective changes, religion suddenly becomes useless and forgettable.
Ewell fundamentally contradicts himself, but in his spirit, I’ll let George Carlin put it far more eloquently than I can.