Monday, October 10, 2005

Letters about G-d

I mentioned a couple of people who had written me regarding my last couple of Blogs and as my very good friend Chris was nice enough to allow me to do so, I have decided to blog the whole of the conversation which I found rather stimulating.

However, I should also say that it is my sincerest intention to try and write about some different subjects in the very near future.

And, as a back ground to this conversation, you can also read here about intellegent design as well as a spoof of ID which is where the Great Spagetti Monster comes from. Please click HERE and HERE

Adam Wrote 10/3
Now, I am not going to sit here and say anything that might conflict with 41 years of sincere agnosticism, but I just came back from the Pinsk synagogue where we closed the Shabbas together with a small meal. And the truth of the mater is I have begun to reacquaint myself with the faith and… I don’t know, to put it simply, I like it. I don’t know why. But it feels good no matter how you cut it. Everything I have blogged has been the truth and I am abut three behind at the moment and I simply have not ha the time this week to write them, But I went last week for the first time in forever, Friday and Saturday only, and not Monday and Thursday. And I was there this Shabbas as well. And I will be for Rosh Hashanah.

Now, my eyes are wide open and there is no mysticism involved, but for some reason I decided simply to drop my arms concerning keeping it at a distance and just do it for a while. And so, you know, covered my head, closed the computer, didn’t carry money (or anything in my h... (The message was cut off)

From Chris from 10/3
your whole story didn't come through, but I would like to react on the going to synagoge part. I understand that interaction in a group of people that have a similar background is nice. And reliving some childhood rituals, also nice I guess. Many people who are actually agnostic, go to church for these reasons.
But there is no such thing as a god. The idea is as ridiculous as the moon being made of cheese. So agnosticism doesn't work for me. It's saying, 'I don't really think there's a god, but just in case....'.

From Adam 10/5
Well, if I am not mistaken, that is the basic idea of agnosticism. Your argument is much more sort of a direct atheist stance, which I myself have never liked if for no other reason as it invites arguments. And in the case of G-d, well, you know, there is nothing there but opinions, and those also are pretty hard to work with.

And I like your point a lot, and I think that in a lot of ways, you are dead accurate. But, I think that there is also some DNA in there. I do feel something, a connection. And it probably has a lot to do with who and what I am and how my ancestors have comported themselves. Bu I had Anya in there with me yesterday and she seems to be absolutely glued to what was going on. The chanting and stuff especially. I am not trying to sell anything other than space on my webpage here Chris, but I am telling you I don’t mind that I am going. And also, I don’t mind the extra “learning” I am doing, such as working on relearning the language and figuring out the procedur... (also cut off)

From Chris 10/5
I understand. And I think it's good that you found this. I just don't like the brainwashing that is involved in religion. People have a tendency to get overexcited/compulsive when they start believing that their point of view is equal to the truth. This is normal human behaviour and it brings stability to communities, but war to countries.

From Adam 10/6
Well, this is a bit more moderate. And, in what you are saying, I completly agre with you. And as Forrest Gump's mother said, stupid is as stupid does. I really don't know anynore. I have always tried to tell people to do what makes themselves happy so long as they don't make other's miserable while they do it.

From Chris 10/7
I agree with the motto: "I can accept the responsibility for what I've done but not for who I am." I don't want to insult you, but I don't agree with being proud of your heritage. It implies that it's better than having a different or no heritage.
On the torah, I understand a book can be beautiful, but it's not THE WORD.

From Adam 10/7
A greater power or an unknowable entity simply allows for a humbling concept known as inevitable human frailty to exist. And it has been the structure behind Jewish belief to worship that unknowable thing, that that great unknowable entity known as G-d which is given human form and perversity so as to make it more accessible, is more worthy of worship than the guy who controls your money and your lands for all time. The torah is a contract of agreement in this and that contract is being enforced by its worship, just as it has for thousands of years. And that contract states that rather than agree that kings and presidents and tsars and pashas and pharos, all of whom have the manpower to kill, are more than mere men, we say that there is an unknowable power which is greater, regardless of how big the bigshot’s earthly powers may be. We believe in the unknowable because it implies that human frailty is a reality rather than denying it. And this was why(the Jews) have had such a hard time of it

On 10/8 Chris Dinant wrote:
I accidentally pressed submit (From that original letter) when I wasn't done writing yet. Now it sounds very disrespectful. That's not what I wanted.

What I wanted to say is that if you call a book "the book" or "the word" it becomes obsessive to me. There is no absolute truth and no meaning. There is no need for there to be meaning. Life is just what it is: life. Nothing more. Why should it be?

We are people. There are no Jews or christians or muslims. Only people. Creating sub-groups was useful in our history when that was the only way to create stable communities. But the only way for a community to be stable was to have a weapon against outside influence that might destabilize it. This weapon is religion. The book of rules.

There should be no need for such a weapon. Our society is global now.

There is no outside influence anymore. The group that I belong to is that of the humans.

I'm not saying that I know all this for sure. This is just my personal conviction/explanation.

On 10/8/05, Adam Goodman wrote:
Ok, here is my old theory. The new one was what I laid on you in the letter. I ran the new one by the rabbi by the way and he kind of liked it, though of course, he, you know, believes. But this was my old theory proving the existence of G-d.

In order to prove the existence of G-d, one only needs to look out of his or her window or front door. The reason for this is that there would pretty much always be a street, if there isn't, just think of the nearest one.

Now,that street has a name, right? It is called something. And your
physical cognition of that place is such that you believe you are looking at
a road and that that road is connected to other roads which lead to and
from places in your town, which is something you also believe that you see,
feel and touch. Right?

OK, now you say that of course these things are real because you can touch them and that all of your senses and logic tell you they are there, right? Fine. This is my theory: As exists that road, so exists G-d, and of course,the Great Spaghetti Monster, one of His newest and most interesting helpers as well. Both exist because there was the same desire for them to exist as what made and named the roads.

Or, probably a better way to say it is, rather than use the word "desire", use the word necessity, as in there was a need, a gap and it was filled. And you know this gap filling business is axiomatic, a primary because if you replace the word "G-d" with the word "nature", Frank Lloyd Wright's definition, you now have a pure, scientific explanation for the existence of the road and the existence of G-d: Nature hates a vacuum.

So by substituting the word nature, (A really good gap filler for a lot of people; even you just admitted it is strange and wonderful and mysterious and inevitable something pretty darned close to random and unknowable in its endlessness- insert here the symbol for infinity), and by agreeing to the idea that there is truth in the abhorrence of a vacuum, a reasonable and well agreed upon scientific principle, we can then agree that there is the existence of G-d simply because there is necessity for him to be. I think this is how I agree with G-d's existence.

Now, the next thing you are going to tell me is that all I am saying is that man Created God rather than the other way around but this is not the case. What I am saying is that man has accounted for G-d's, nature's limitlessness by creating more human-like, understandable and fallible forms so as to more easily deal with the immensity of the thought. And this is the same as we have done by creating roads. If you have a vast unknowable thing, you do something to make it knowable. Obviously G-d exists or we wouldn't be thinking about Him and trying to deal with him.

If vacuums, vacuums in knowledge, spiritual vacuums, vacuums which exists in the logic of arguments or in one's consciousness still exist, as I am quite sure they always will, because it is the will of the Great Spaghetti Monster, these gaps will still always be needed to be filled with whatever is the closest available approximation to what fits there. If you have a vast unknowable thing, you do something to make it knowable. If a human has an emotional gap, he finds a way to fill it and suffers until he does.

Anyway, keeping the above theory in mind, I would like to say that I find arguing against G-d's existence to be rather short sighted and selfish. Trying to say that there isn't a G-d sort of implies that we as humans are finished products and that we are perfect and without flaw. And I absolutely disagree wit this. Though we may have become a little smarter and can control our environment a bit more than we used to, we are still a long, long way away from perfection. This I say is true especially in times of seemingly limitless daily discovery on the positive side but also continued war and famine and disease and all that weather that G-d seems to want to give us on the other. And global warming too. Denial seems to be pretty small minded. What has happened that has allowed for such serenity? I do not see it. And if I don't, obviously the vacuum is still there, as it is, so does nature's insistence on filling it. And to my estimate, I suppose this was probably G-d's understanding of what life would be like IN THE BEGINNING when he asked Adam not to eat that damned apple.

And finally, because in this monkey wrench theory of mine there is a reasonable confusion as to whether G-d made man (the "normal" spiritual belief) or man made G-d (The normal atheistic concept) I like to think that the theory creates a kind of mathematical possibility for both to be true and to exist together at the same time. Or, in my case, it allows for the existence of a healthy case of Jewish Agnosticism.

And, insofar as you first argument goes, if you are using the understanding that the usage of the article "the" implies a principal and singular thing and that "a" or "an" implies one thing among many, I find no problem with referring to the torah as "The Word". None at all. And by way of argument, see the "monkey wrench" theory above.

Chris Dinant wrote on 10/8:
This is the second attempt at answering your mail. My first was a bit too excited I'm afraid. I agree totally with your idea of human frailty. We are anything but perfect and so is nature. As opposed to what creationists and intelligent design profets think. Therefore I don't like to substitute god with nature or the other way around. Nature is not perfect. Nature has no will. Nature is just a word to describe everything that is alive on earth. You say that because we don't know everything, there is the need for a god to fill this vacuum. You say there will always remain something unknowable. Yes, people put god in the place of missing links. I know it but I don't understand it. You keep betting on a cripple horse. Missing links disappear. They are not unknowable. Nothing is.

There are less and less vacuums for god to fill. Of course people will always find vacuums somewhere, but this requires continuous adjustment of their arguments and theories. Don't try to put god into science because there is no room for him. "Please don't pray in our schools, we won't think in your church". You don't leave room for god to have created man as opposed to man having created god in your theory. If you really think you did you have to explain it better to me. I think you just say that god only exists in your head. Virtual god. Proof requires evidence, always. Otherwise it is just conviction.

Your theory tries to explain why people think there is a god, but it is no proof.


Adam on 10/9 wrote:
All I said was specifically that G-d and nature are eventually unknowable and probably interchangeable. And that it was this unknowable-ness that led people to fill the gaps of their knowledge of them with more human forms such as is found in the bible or even in the title "Mother Nature".

But I do agree with you that filling in gaps with treacle that should
otherwise be studied and understood from reality is both stupid and lazy and also
far too common. And, as far as empty charismatic house to house demands to
join or using religion to fill gaps in language, arts, culture, science and mathematic education, I agree with what you are saying also.

But the "monkey wrench" proof of the existence of G-d theory works like this:

Man is imperfect and unfinished. He may be growing, but he is not complete.

The perception of man is such that he wishes to know the world, but because he is not complete, there are limits to this knowledge.

In dealing with these gaps, man has (as G-d and/or nature insists is necessary i.e.: Nature abhors vacuums), created certain entities specifically to fill these needs. (This is where the streets and roads analogy comes from)

One of these things that has been created is the image of G-d and
Nature as human like entities.

But rather than saying that this theory simply implies that man created G-d, it rather implies that something great and unknowable (greater than man) does exist and has existed and proof of His/Her/Its existence can accounted for because of the creation of the constructs we are speaking of. This is kind of like the Doppler Effect proving the “big bang” theory.

Or, because we have given G-d a name it is proof that there was something powerful and yet unexplainable there that required a name.

And Finally, Chris wrote today:
You say that that god and nature are unknowable, and i say that there is nothing unknowable. especially not nature. I study it.