Khaya Dlanga

The tiring God debate

2010-09-07 07:39

Is it even possible to enter the debate objectively? An atheist might enter the debate saying, “I cannot believe that God exists so it cannot be true.” And a theist might say, “I cannot believe that God can’t exist because it can’t be true that he doesn’t exist.” Both sides are not willing to consider evidence that does not support their point of view - because both sides believe that they have the truth. Thus the futility of the debate.

One of my favourite humorists is Woody Allen; his film characters often tackle the futility of life. Sometimes I feel as though he would have been a funnier writer of the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. As depressing as that book is, Allen’s version would have been more amusing. He once proclaimed, “To you I’m an atheist, to God I’m the loyal opposition.”

Besides that being a funny comment, strangely, it acknowledges and denies the existence of God all in one sentence.

The atheist vs theist debate has been going on for centuries. Both sides tend to be extremely vicious when debating. This is a subject I tackled a long time ago on YouTube after I had seen the pointlessness of the debates. What I noticed were two things: 1. No one was listening to what the other was saying and 2. Both sides had a superiority complex. In my view, the moment you think you are superior to another human being you have made yourself inferior.

Often, the atheist will resort to calling into question the intellectual capabilities of theists. Insulting someone’s intelligence is not proof of one’s intelligence. On this point, Albert Einstein said, “there are the fanatical atheists whose intolerance is the same as that of the religious fanatics, and it springs from the same source... They are creatures who can't hear the music of the spheres.”

There has been a rise of what I prefer to call the Atheist Evangelical Movement. Its leaders are noted figures who have entered the main stream media because of their sharp intellect and ability to engage with and play to the media in Lady Gagareque fashion. You’ve surely heard of some of them; Richard Dawkins who wrote the God Delusion, Bill Maher whose Religulous documentary made millions at the box office and Christopher Hitchens who wrote the very provocatively titled God is not Great.

All these men are the high priests of the atheist movement. In South Africa we have Gareth Cliff, whom I once called an evangelist of atheism on Twitter.

There has been a renewed interest in science and God since Stephen Hawking published his new book The Grand Design. His book has caused quite a stir, all because of one line: “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing …  It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”

Ironically, the father of the theory of gravity, Sir Isaac Newton said, "Atheism is so senseless and odious to mankind that it never had many professors." Of course, this was said in the 17th century.

According to Tim Connor, Stephen Hawking’s theory is based on faulty logic, “You cannot have laws such as gravity without matter. Quite simply laws such as the law of gravity did not exist before matter in order to dictate that matter should somehow create itself.”

Amidst all the uproar, can anyone really conclude that Hawking is actually an atheist considering he wrote in his book, A Brief History of Time, “If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of reason – for then we should know the mind of God”?

It must be noted that Hawking does not disprove the existence of God, he merely deems his existence unnecessary to the creation of the universe. So there has been much over-reaction by the press and the religious community. There is no need to panic. Science and God, I believe, are not mutually exclusive as Albert Einstein so clearly put it: “I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know his thoughts. The rest are details.”

When famed astronomer and cosmologist, Carl Sagan was searching for extra-terrestrials many questioned the wisdom of his quest because there was no evidence to indicate the existence of aliens from other space. His response was the following, “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

This is why I say that it is almost impossible for most people to approach the atheist vs. theist debate from an objective point of view. 

- Follow Khaya on Twitter.

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