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Kick Out All the Atheists and All the Believers Too

Updated on December 1, 2014

A God of Everything or God of Nothing

Infinite Trails/Unknowable Truths
Infinite Trails/Unknowable Truths | Source

When Atheists Ping Believers Pongs

When atheists and believers battle, do you wonder which is more wrong than the other? Do both sides make you feel a little uneasy?

For me, it's like watching a ping pong match, full of furious volleys, in which neither competitor realizes the pong they are pinging isn't God at all.

God, the Debating Point

I also find believers and atheists equally irritating in the way they clutter conversations about God with more noise than content. It's a classic example of creating more heat than light, if you'll excuse the cliché.

The mass media loves it. But it doesn't get us anywhere. That plastic ball keeps whipping over the net. The sound of wood on plastic never gets any more resonant.

Although both sides get it wrong, neither hesitates to declare certainty. Worse yet, in the clamor for winning, both sides claim to have facts that, when looked at objectively, arent really facts to anyone else.

They're beliefs, assumptions about truth, based on faith.

Are We Talking About God or Not God?

Which one?

Atheisms' central claim is that there is no God because the existence of a deity can’t be proven using the scientific method.

All that really proves, though, is that, if there is a deity, it exists outside the limitations of science.

Rather than shut up about the impossibility of knowing what you can't know, they just get louder. And more certain.

True believers are just as crazy, insisting that their belief in an all-loving God with some sort of master plan somehow explains the pain and suffering as well as the beauty and wonder we see throughout the universe.

Kurt Vonnegut once said something to the effect that, if there is a God, He's got a lot of explaining to do.

A God that lets children starve to death in impossible agony while others parade slowly through art galleries before relaxing over lunch, as part of some plan, isn't the kind of deity I’d look forward to facing, eye to eye, on the other side of life.

That God, I think, was created to help the well off explain why they should have more than everyone else and to soothe the rabble with promises of salvation.

Debating against that God, the atheists play right into it. The debate becomes a distraction. Noise obscures insight.

Really, then, they aren't talking about God. They're talking about god.

The Believers Thing That Irritates Atheists The Most

The dreaded God of the Gaps!

When you think about it, absent the noise, you realize that some sort of God has to be present in everything. Something has to be there for the simple reason that something is there.

The lack of a good enough definition doesn't erase a reality.

God is a tricky term, misused on all sides, but it's the best we've got.

Some try to avoid all the implications that have been layered on conceptions of God by resorting to terms like Source and The Divine. That's copping out. God is God, and giving a deity a nickname won't change anything more than calling legendary Yankee shortstop Phil Rizzuto "The Scooter" made him into other than a shortstop.

Either there is or there isn't, and using a different term doesn't change facts. It simply dims or adjusts the colors. I can't see how that helps.

The main reason I believe there is a God is because, objectively, the idea of a deity is too preposterous, too bizarre and too extreme for any human or culture to have cooked it up out of nothing.

If God is an invention, a "God of the gaps" dreamed up to explain mysteries, then there must have been a time when there wasn't one. Just like any Broadway star, God had to get a start somewhere, and someone had to come up with this astonishing idea.

Not just that, but God's inventor would also have to be so convincing that most of the people around him or her fell for it. And continue to keep falling for it, thousands of years later.

That, in a nutshell, is science's case for a God created by man to explain the inexplicable, and it's flimsy.

There is no evidence at all to support it, but atheists cling to it with the certainty of… well, true believers.

Believers and Atheists Make Their Cases

There are plenty of articulate voices on both sides.

An Epidemic of Academic Know-It-All-Ism

The God Delusion
The God Delusion

It's sometimes hard to fathom Richard Dawkins failure to believe in God when he often seems to think he is one.

 

Religion's Most Thoughtful Defense

Mere Christianity
Mere Christianity

C. S. Lewis defense of his Christian beliefs is often cited as the most perfect example of why faith trumps reason.

 

How Nature Lost The God Battle

No doubt, there was a time when our ancestors struggled to understand and explain elements and powers far beyond their knowledge, but there is no reason to think they wouldn’t assign it all to nature.

Who needed invent God?

Weren’t the powers and mysteries of nature cool enough for hip cave dwellers?

The argument for a wholly invented God is weak. It’s what we did with God that's suspicious.

What we did with God is as simple as defining what went wrong. Somebody made God religious.

It seems more likely, if you read some of the texts, that charismatic leaders were able to manipulate the fears by offering special insights into nature, attributing powers to gods with whom they had special access.

Access became power. Power begat religions.

The essence of nature never changed. Leaders invented gods they could extract from nature and use them for control.

In the beginning, the foolishness of the masses joined the greed of their leaders in forming an artificial belief system, centered on faith-based mythologies, that cemented hierarchies of privilege.

It remains in place today.

What's you position? - Saints and Sinners, All Welcome to Vote

Which position best fits you? (Add a comment, if you like.)

See results

Silence, Silence, Silence, Saying All We Did Not Know

William Rose Benet on the folly of knowing it all

Another idea that makes God easy to live with is reflected in something Einstein observed. He calmly acknowledged wonder, wonder that there was so much about "the mind of God" that we don’t know.

Which brings up the greatest flaw in scientific claims about atheism — do we really know enough to make any firm conclusions?

Do we really already have that many answers?

With all there is yet to know in the observable universe and maybe even more in parallel worlds, how did we ever get so certain about the wonders around us?

This seems the silliest instance of human pride, yet scientific atheism is just speculation without it.

None of this proves there is a God, but staying open to wonder and curiosity makes it one of the possibilities.

I think that God is and always was nature, all of it, and the closest thing we have to scriptures are the laws of physics. Physicists know we have mountains more to discover, layers upon layers to dig through, and history tells us that much of what we now find certain will be overturned.

We just don’t know what. That is inspiring. The future is packed with surprise.

What Have Believers & Atheist Got Against Wonder?

Open the door. Let 'em in.

I believe there is a God, but I have no faith in religions.

We are so early in our evolution, a very young species, and for all our ability to research and understand, we have only scratched the surface of nature.

All the time, I read about discoveries in genetics, astrophysics, nutrition, medicine and intelligence. Keeping religion out of science has accelerated curiosity and discovery.

It may also help us understand or at least get a powerful sense or intuitive grasp on God.

For now and maybe forever, God is not something we can define or reduce to a human condition. If God exists, It must be genderless and encompass everything, all we already know and all we will get to know and maybe a lot we never will know.

Otherwise, there is no God. It’s that simple, that perplexing.

You can’t have a patchwork God or a deity of some things, but not others.

When believers, whether they’re of the religious or scientific persuasion, claim to know enough to make conclusions about the existence of God, perspective makes them look silly. Both need to get out of the way.

Let curiosity and wonder flourish.

A Rational Appeal to Rid Ourselves of Religion

The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason
The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason

Sam Harris's passionate books is crisp and raw about exposing the dangerous underbelly of mainstream religions.

 

Swimming Upstream with Faith

The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism
The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism

A current bestseller, considering God in a secular age.

 

Hard For Saints As Well As Sinners

All we do not know.

What we know so far is that there are incalculable universes of dimensions we know little or nothing about. Some of it is probably so strange that we don't see it because we don't know what to look for.

The most widely accepted theory about connecting all the dots within the physical universe needs at least a half-dozen dimensions more than the three with which we’re already familiar, the ones we use to make our maps of the world.

So, take your 3-D theater experience and multiply that by three more. How overwhelming is it?

Maybe the reason the other dimension required by Superstring Theory are unavailable to us is that we aren’t up to handling all of it yet, and to get along in the world, it is entirely possible that we don’t need to.

To be very clear, those strange dimensions we know next to nothing about are every bit as much God, if one exists or something else if one doesn't, as the three with which we are already so cozy.

We know so little.

Yet, so many of us are so sure.

What we know so far is that we don’t know very much.

Bigger Than Lincoln, Nebraska

So much farther to go.

Some of the most exciting discoveries in recent decades are ones that trouble religions as much as they confound science. Spiritual inquiry has gone mainstream, and neither atheists nor believers know what to do with it.

Spiritual passion has always fueled religions, and science is invested in spiritual denial. But today, there it is.

Denying it is as futile as trying to corral it in a church.

Independent of science and religion, pioneers have begun to document another side of the reality in which we go about our business. Tapped into an unsettled curiosity about the distinction between life and death, researchers, sometimes quite by accident, have stepped into a dizzying array of possibilities that will take decades to sort through.

The perspective now dawning is that temporal life, what we do here on Earth and within the known universe, is only a slice, a small one at that, of a greater reality.

Our search for meaning, the laws of nature we rely on and our beliefs that fill in the gaps may do nothing more than give us a map of the small corner of a room filled with computers and operators.

It's like we are citizens of the world, confident that being able to find our way around Lincoln, Nebraska, is all there really is to know.

Pond at the Edge of the City

The most ordinary spaces are so filled that every book ever written couldn't explain everything about it. Yet, we're told that some of us have it all figured out.
The most ordinary spaces are so filled that every book ever written couldn't explain everything about it. Yet, we're told that some of us have it all figured out. | Source

Open Minds Take The Farthest Travels

Where True Believers and Scientific Atheist Never Go

It has always been hard to define the basis for what transcendentalists believe they derive from contemplating nature, including their own inner nature.

A spiritual, ineffable other world seems always to have been part of the aware human dimension. It powers religions and irritates atheists.

Taoism captures something in the human spirit by trying to describe "the way." It gets traction because people seem universally to grasp the idea of an inexplicable flow that conventional time and pace don’t really explain well enough.

More recently, though, researchers with real diplomas and respect in their fields (at least when they started) have begun to add some heft to the shadows.

When Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote her moving book, On Death and Dying, the medical community applauded its insights into how death happened and how it might be better managed. When she took her learning a step farther, into spiritual realities, she was scorned, a traitor to science.

Raymond Moody, also a medical doctor, noticed similarities in the stories of patients near death or who had been rescued from the brink of death. These were gradually collected by him and reported as near death experiences, a term he coined. His NDEs shed startling insight into an entirely other world that may be entered or returned to when physical life ends.

While scientific atheists and religions scrambled to redirect Dr. Moody’s findings to fit their entrenched belief systems, yet another doctor, Michael Newton, stumbled onto something even more profound.

Without intention while he was trying to do something else through hypnotherapy, Dr. Newton found that his patients were able to recall, not just past lives, earlier incarnations, but something else vastly more mysterious.

Dr. Newton’s subjects began telling mind-boggling stories of a universe from which the reincarnated lives were born. This life between lives was the more like an inner core of reality where God presided, one like our own in some ways and vastly different in others.

What his subjects described is easy as pie to pass off as incredible, wild imaginings of stressed out subjects. But there is a problem that neither science nor religion can resolve.

The universe of life between lives described by Dr. Newton's patients has now been confirmed by the experiences of thousands of others, and a network of hypnotherapists continues to expand the knowledge base.

A Conclusion

We're going on a journey, and we don't have room for all that.

Sewing up the loose ends for anyone who still needed proof after the discoveries of Doctors Moody, Newton and others, Jeffrey Long, in his book Evidence of the Afterlife, reported statistical results from reports of near death experience that leave little doubt that an afterlife awaits all of us.

More important, with that knowledge in hand, the tantalizing questions of what and why explode like a new galaxy waiting to be explored.

This leaves atheist sputtering between denial and desperate rationalizations, and it makes religions uneasy because the afterlife being found, the heaven of life after death, is nondenominational, which lets the air out of the limitations of churches and temples.

What is tilting over the horizon is a third way of understanding. It slices between the polarities of believers and atheists to shine a light on an evolving mystery of God, a new deity cut free from the restraints of belief and proof, settling slowly into the middle ground of knowing.

That's the God I’d like to learn more about.

Romanticizing God won't work either. The workings of our God must extend into everything, joy just as much as suffering.

Any insight we find must be seen with our eyes wide open, our wisdom embedded in a deeper truth, one we may never be able to know in our lifetime.

Anyway, a God that's bigger than me, I can live with that. Like Einstein, I’d have a hard time trusting a God as limited as I am.

Besides, I really like comparing myself to Einstein, the most striking figure of the last hundred year. I'll take his guidance any time.

His guidance says I should leave the outdated arguments between atheists and believers behind and go for something deeper, more personal and eternal.

Who's ready to come along/

What do you think?

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    • David Stone1 profile image
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      David Stone 3 years ago from New York City

      Thank you, Paula. I don't know about being a genius. I do know that a lot of the horizon clears when you stay away from the polarized positions and just look straight at things.

      And, yes, I've thought about an ebook or a soft cover/ebook match, but I have a novel I'm working on for the next couple of months. So, little time to devote to other things, although fate has a way of intruding.

      Thanks, again.

    • David Stone1 profile image
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      David Stone 3 years ago from New York City

      I believe you missed the point. What I argued against is certainty in knowing more than we can know and making a hard case for it. That doesn't seem like what you're doing to me.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      David....Allow me to borrow from my grandchildren, "WOW! Awesome!"

      Simply put, I have never read anything on this topic quite as brilliant. There's something magical about the intriguing manner in which you managed to give perfect balance to such universally controversial (to say the LEAST) topics. I am duly impressed and sincerely moved.

      I read it in it's entirety twice. I don't that. What this tells me is that you're a genius, thus I want some of your brain cells to seep through.

      I am voting this UP, way UP and clicking on all but funny.....isn't one single funny thought here.

      I should stop here, but I need to say that if you haven't considered expanding on this a bit and publishing it as a book (even an e-book) I for one would encourage you to do so. This should be shared around our vast world and back. ..Pinned, tweeted, googled, shared & sending the link to MANY. Peace, Paula

    • Kylyssa profile image

      Kylyssa Shay 3 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      I don't see how not thinking God is real makes one closed to wonder.

      How can one possibly look at the amazing things in our universe and not find them wondrous unless they were made by a particular type of being? The wonders of the universe are there and available to be discovered. It seems unnecessary to me to require more than that of them to appreciate them. It seems arrogant to require your existence be made somehow more special by being purposely intended rather finding it a mind-bogglingly astounding and amazing thing no matter how it happened.

      Just because we don't know how something got here or why it works the way it does, it doesn't make it any less grand. Why is it more noble to come up with an explanation in the mind that requires a God rather than to investigate and study and experience and try to unfold the mysteries of it out in the universe? It's not even necessary to ever know the answers to see the wonder because the journey seeking them out in the universe rather than inside the mind is so fulfilling by itself. When you have a vast and boundless playground to explore it seems odd to me to let your adventures in it to be limited by your preexisting expectations of how you think it all got there. Thinking you already have all the answers seems sad to me.

      I am saddened that people hold the fact that I don't think God is real against me. I'm very sad one of them is you. Try imagining how puzzling and sad it would be if a fairly large portion of the population thought you lacking in character, unappreciative of wonder, undeserving of a voice, subject to the tenets of their beliefs, and a lesser being for not thinking unicorns are real.

      I'm not able to think things are real just because I want to. I admit I'm jealous of all the people who can believe whatever they desire, who can think things are real because they want them to be. I can't do that and so people like you wish me gone and want to kick me out. I didn't choose to be alive. I didn't choose to be unable to make myself believe in things I don't think are real.

    • David Stone1 profile image
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      David Stone 3 years ago from New York City

      Thank you, Susie. I appreciate it.

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 3 years ago from Minnesota

      Dave, another profound article by you. Thank you.

    • David Stone1 profile image
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      David Stone 3 years ago from New York City

      Hey, thank you, Sam. I appreciate it.

    • David Stone1 profile image
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      David Stone 3 years ago from New York City

      You're welcome, Rhonda, and thank you. I'll be interested in anything you'd like to add, after some think time.

    • David Stone1 profile image
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      David Stone 3 years ago from New York City

      Thank you, Barbara. So nice to see you over here on HubPages.

    • David Stone1 profile image
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      David Stone 3 years ago from New York City

      I like that, June. It works.

      Another quote I like, but I can't remember who said it, is that it would be better for God's reputation it there wasn't one.

      Thank you.

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 3 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      "Kurt Vonnegut once said something to the effect that, if there is a God, He's got a lot of explaining to do." This cracks me up. Thanks for the laugh. As for atheism vs ... whatever the opposite of atheism is ... I have been both over my lifetime, and both beliefs changed with time. Now I believe that we are all part of a big energy field, and if you want to call that energy field God, then go ahead. :-)

    • profile image

      BarbaraCasey 3 years ago

      I rarely use the "G" word anymore because of its limiting connotations. We know so little, really, while we're stuck in these physical "suits." Another wonderful article, David.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image

      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      This was most intriguing. I can't say I agree with everything you said. I almost never agree with everything anyone says. You did make some really good points and I love the idea of being open to wonder. We have become so jaded as a species. I don't see how there can't be God. The idea all this just sprang up by chance is ludicrous to me, but then, I've been a saved believer since I was a child. I'm going to have to return here. It's pretty deep and I think best absorbed over a few digestions. Thank you for much food for thought.

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 3 years ago from Lakewood New York

      Love how you explain both sides. I'm a believer and always will be, and have nothing against non believers if that's what they choose. Thanks for your amazing writing once again :)

    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      I was born into Buddhism, went to a Mormon temple for a week, studied the bible and spent time with Jehovah's Witnesses. Years later, I decided that God didn't exist only to find myself unable to not believe in something. I feel that we're all connected somehow no matter what religion or belief and sometimes I can actually "feel" God, although admitting that would make me seem crazy. I'll stop now as I'm just babbling now. Love how your writing makes one wonder and think.