16 April 2011

THT: God

I was at my aunt's house with relatives on conference Sunday for dinner and games. I didn't watch conference this year. It was kind of a Boyd-cott and kind of self-preservation. I will not take poison into my soul, and I think that that is exactly what watching conference last time was for me- poison. It sounds dramatic, I know. And I probably shouldn't have been so against the idea seeing as how other general authorities have been in such disagreement with Packer's last conference talk. But I'm still recovering from the pain, a yes, a little resentment, that it brought.

Anyway, recently I was sort of contemplating the idea of God. The thought entered my mind that perhaps he was made up. Maybe God is purely man-made. I do not pretend that I never question the existence of deity and I will never claim to know such things. If I say I believe in God, it is exactly that- a belief. Some days I believe in God more than others. I think most of us question throughout our lives.

Anyway, at the dinner with my relatives, an uncle said something that I thought was interesting and worth sharing. We got on the topic of the "big-bang" theory. He said that believing in the big bang theory was like walking through a barren dessert on a barren planet all alone and stumbling upon a Rolex watch in perfect working condition in the sand which you then come to conclude was somehow produced naturally (without the hand of any creature) by happenstance.

While I don't fully agree with this analogy, I feel like it demonstrates an interesting point. The reason I don't fully agree is that I do not pretend to know how God made the earth and the life found on it. Perhaps he constructed something like the "big-bang" to fulfill his purposes. Who am I to know? But I do find it a bit ridiculous to look at the universe and conclude that this earth and it's life was accidental. In this huge expanse of space filled with countless planets and stars, numberless as the grains of sand in a dessert, the only one we know of housing intelligent and thriving life is ours. And like the mechanics of a watch which have to be so carefully and precisely constructed, our world operates almost laughably perfect for our existence.

This last week I have really been missing scripture and religious music. I have been so busy I hardly even have time to see friends but once a week. But all these thoughts brought a scripture to mind. Scripture is so poetic and beautiful:
"...all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator."
-Alma 30:44

When I stop and take a moment to look around me and beyond myself, it really is harder to believe that their is no God. It would be easier to conclude that the dessert made a Rolex.


hekates said...

You realize the Universe is really really big,, right? And lots of planets are super far away...I mean, we didn't know there were other solar systems WITH planets until the mid 1990s. Concluding from our teensy bit of knowledge about the universe the absence of thriving life on other planets is very silly. And it's a very weak argument for the existance of a god, or gods.(Let alone a sentient, buttinsky God that individually cares about each human.)

jen said...

First, I appreciate the way you described conference. That is EXACTLY how I feel, but have never described it so well. Thanks for that! Also, in my opinion, if you are feeling like it is poison to watch, then don't watch... and when (or if) it ever doesn't feel poisonous and/or you WANT to watch, then do that.

As for God, I don't know what I believe. It changes from day to day. I absolutely believe there is a lot more going on than I understand. Powers around me that I can't see and have no explanation for.

Anonymous said...

I have studied mathematics for much of my adult life. I believe that mathematics exists independently of any universe. I don't think humans create mathematics--I think they discover it a bit at a time. I sometimes encounter mathematics that is so perfect and beautiful that it is like hearing the echo of the whisper of God. That has influenced my beliefs more than anything else.

moonlitlake said...

you conceived your state of mind and perspective so beautifully..good post

bradcarmack said...

There are some potential flaws in your Rolex/God logic. Three considerations:

(1) In a sufficiently big universe, even vanishingly small possibilities become likelihoods. Though humans are demonstrably terrible at conceptualizing scale in the context of very large numbers, imagine this. Let's say there's a one in a million chance that you'll get hit by a car crossing the street. If you "roll the dice" enough times (say, you cross the street 1 trillion times), it becomes extremely likely that that you will be hit hundreds of times, and incredibly likely that you will be hit at least once. For more on this topic see my Mormon Transhumanist friends' New God Argument (http://vimeo.com/5577114?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TransfigurismLibrary+%28Mormon+Transhumanist+Association+Library%29).

(2) The Rolex example is a common one and also grossly misleading, both as it is applied to God proofs and/or debunking evolution. With all due respect to Alma, I ask: Given the age and relative stability of stars and the incredible amount of time, energy, matter, and space available, might it not be likely that sentience would emerge in at least one, if not several, parts of such a universe? Remember, emergence doesn't require ex nihilo assembly of irreducible complexity; some form of replication or reproduction + some variety is a sufficient foundation for natural selection. Chemistry (bonding and elements) provides both.

(3) The fact that you are sentient enough to observe the universe and to think about it may not be a coincidence. There are _at least_ thousands of possible bases for what we conceive as life outside carbon based eukaryotes; however, not all of those possible bases would evolve equally in the limited adaptive spaces whose bounds are set by the physical constants and earth-unique bounds endemic to our planetary milieu. It is useful to note that despite human ingenuity, it has yet to get close to creating a reproducing, life-like object approaching even the complexity/magnificence of a housefly, a cell, or a human brain, all of which were, to use the metaphor above, naturally and essentially created from a barren desert with no apparent hands-on designer.

Be careful to avoid believing in a God of the Gaps (http://bradcarmack.blogspot.com/2010/01/god-of-gaps.html).

That being said, there may be hope for theists yet- though I won't say why here. :-)

bradcarmack said...

More on limited adaptive spaces: http://bradcarmack.blogspot.com/2010/05/merging-lds-theology-and-organic.html

Troy said...

interesting thoughts. i believe that God has provided us with sufficient evidence to either support living a life of belief, or a life of non-belief.

Jonathan Adamson said...

To those of you that see "flaws" in what I wrote- It was never my intention to prove the existence of God in this post. For me, it isn't a scientific conclusion. I wrote about ideas that make me tend to believe that there is some greater power. I've written many times about my agnostic approach to God and spirituality. There may or may not be a God, either way I do not believe I will ever KNOW it in this life. However, I can choose to believe. Just like you can choose to believe that the universe is endless. Do we really know that? What if there is just some giant screen with a projection running showing images of galaxies and stars? No, I don't know how big the universe is, do you? In my opinion, God could never be proven... no matter how strong your argument. So it comes as no surprise that the one I spoke on isn't strong enough to prove anything.

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