Thursday, December 18, 2008

What I think of religion

People are, without exception, terrible at scale.

Consider, if you will, the Universe. Since you are terrible at scale, you obviously can't, so let's try again. :p

Consider, if you will, a largish field which is infested with ants. Imagine that, for some reason, you select a particular anthill to be special. But this is not nearly specific enough. Imagine that then, you pick up a particular ant, and let it run around blindly on your hand. Since you'd like to see it a bit closer, you set that ant under a microscope. You see a single cell which particularly strikes your fancy, so you zoom in on that. You are so taken with this one cell on this one ant, that you spend all your time examining it, and eventually, you become acquainted with its very atoms. You decide then that you will grant the wishes of these atoms; but only the carbon atoms, we wouldn't want to be too generous, now.

You would agree, I'm sure, that the above is a fairly ludicrous example; unfortunately, I fear that I've underestimated the scale, if anything. And yet, this is what every theistic religion would have us believe. The idea of a creator, I have no problem with - a creator can't be proven or disproven, so there's no reason to dismiss the possibility. But to think that, after creating the entire Universe, a being that powerful would then look at me, a speck living on a speck orbiting a speck on the arm of a not-especially-impressive galaxy, for even a femtosecond, well, that would be more than I could stand.

If you want, you can believe in a God who meddles in the lives of atoms jostling around on an ant's back. I won't try to stop you; I won't even disagree with you. My Universe is a cold, lonely, and sensible place, though, and that's the way I prefer it.

7 comments:

Kiriska said...

Well, you could also consider that such a creator is capable of multiple parallel thought processes and simultaneous actions, in which case it would be possible for him to examine the lives of any number of creations without any trouble or effort. I want to say that it's implausible, but it isn't really. At least, not any more or less implausible than the entire concept to begin with.

Frank Church said...

Yeah, I've thought the same thing. But religion tends toward the improbable...the idea is that God is omnipresent, no? Omni- doesn't mean a few quadrillion, it means everything. And yeah, we really can't comprehend numbers that big. Just look at all the bailouts being thrown around Congress: a trillion here, a trillion there.

It's interesting to think that until the last few centuries, all God had to do was make sure to pay attention to everyone on Earth, or so people thought. (And of course, he would ignore those smelly foreigners.) Now the scale is vastly expanded.

Also, I made myself a blog, and y'all who read this get to see it first. :) It's frankchurch.blogspot.com.

Æther said...

Maybe the divine being is like a processor of infinite power! As long as we can't comprehend infinity, why not? Think of the number of threads you could have.

If my classes have taught me anything, it's doubt of the divine all the way from the field of biology. It's strange to me to think that there are so many health professionals that can get through this material without any doubt. Maybe my perception of things is just skewed by the current data I have, though.

David said...
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P. Static said...

Kiriska, David: I'll admit my anthropic error if you admit yours. >_> <_<

Specifically, I've assumed that God doesn't have infinite parallel thought processes, or whatever else would let him care about every individual on this one planet. There's really no reason to assume this, so my bad.

On the other hand, you're implicitly thinking on a human scale. Why would God care more about us than, say, our constituent cells? Or, to go in the other direction, planets? Or, to go laterally, animals? Because we've killed a hell of a lot of animals.

You could easily say to the above that God cares about everything, on every scale, equally. But then, here's the problem: The point of God doing us little favors is that God is acting preferentially toward us. If you want to say that God cares about every possible thing equally, and only listens to prayers when it doesn't hurt anything else in the universe, then you're talking about a religion that's vastly different from anything I've heard of. XD

Kiriska said...

Well, sure, but the point of religion is that he's omniscient too. XD

David said...

According to Christianity, I believe God cares about us because we have souls. They're a little vague on what a soul is though besides our spiritual selves.