Sunday, December 05, 2010

An atheist discovers part of God

Don Geddis sent me the previoius post in an email and I asked him to post it here because I think he's on the right track, but not quite there. In particular:

God doesn't care about humans, and God is not benevolent.

and I hope he'll forgive me for lifting this from his original email:

Doesn't make much of a comforting myth,

Darwinian evolution indeed is not much of a comforting myth. I think that's one of the reasons it doesn't get more traction. Happily, Darwinian evolution is not all there is. Evolution is just one layer in a hierarchy of phenomena, some of which do care about humans, and some of which are benevolent. It just so happens that the phenomena that are benevolent and care about us are not the same ones that created us. They are us (and in some cases, our pets).

It is noted among Biblical scholars from time to time that an ambiguity in Hebrew grammar allows Genesis 1:1 ("Bereshith barah Elohim et ha shmayim ve et haaretz.") to be properly translated not as "IN the beginning..." but rather "The Beginning created God, the heavens and the Earth." A properly poetic but still scientifically tenable creation myth might then go something like this: The Beginning created Physics, which created evolution (which is nothing like physics), which created DNA (which is nothing like evolution), which created humans (which are nothing like DNA), which recently created computers, which are (so far) nothing like humans. It is truly a grand and glorious scheme of things, of which intelligence is only a small (but disproportionately interesting) part. If we use the shorthand "God" to mean the totality of creation at all levels of abstraction (c.f. Raymond Smullyan), then to call God intelligent is an insult to God.

We can even co-opt a passage from Isaiah: "I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the multiverse, do all these things." (I've taken another small liberty with the translation here.)

That kind of God I think can properly compete in the theological marketplace with one who forces people to cannibalize their children.

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