Friday, August 19, 2011

A Common Misunderstanding

When I was a teenager I rebelled against belief in a G_d whom I had been led to believe was a bearded white-haired old man on a throne amid clouds in heaven.

Only when I grew up did I come to understand that what I didn’t believe in was a stupid caricature, a cartoon.

So let us get one thing perfectly clear - G_d is not a bearded, white-haired, old man on a throne on a cloud. G_d is not an Angry Santa Claus. That is an image that has been provided over the centuries for children and those too ignorant to understand anything else.

The fact that you no longer believe the fable you were told about as a child does not mean there is no G_d. It means the bubbe meisse you were told is not true.

Literate people have never believed that. Greek philosophy shows that not even Roman and Greek pagans believed that Zeus and the other gods were literally over-sized human beings as shown in statues.

I would point out that in the Middle Ages the hardest thing to believe about religion was that G_d created the universe out of nothing, and that nothing preceded it.

Modern astronomy has established that the universe came into existence in the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. If that is not creation out of nothing, then what would be?

Further, the physics is that the Big Bang is when space-time came into existence. Before time existed there was no ‘before’. So the two major obstacles to belief in creation have been laid to rest by the ten or eleven observational bases for believing the Big Bang theory.

The Big Bang also implies that everything in the universe has a common origin, has a common cause, a common destiny, and everything that happens or can happen is the expression of the same common process.

Even Deism, the theory that G_d created the universe and then abandoned it, does not survive the Big Bang theory. The Big Bang does NOT posit that something happened at a moment a long time ago and then nothing happened since. What it does say is that universal expansion started then and continues now, not a moving outward into space, but an expansion of space itself. Which is to say that the act of creation, the expansion, is continuous and is going on now, this very instant, and will go on forever, to the best of our knowledge.

None of this should be confused with pantheism. All possible universes throughout eternity are, according to Spinoza, the Face of G_d - a surface or manifestation.

To deny the unity of the universe one would have to engage in the same denial of Big Bang observations as the fundamentalists use to deny the existence of dinosaurs. Nothing but closing one’s mind to evidence will support the atheist’s unexamined 19th Century mechanistic assumptions.

One can easily extend this argument to the results of Feynman’s two slit experiment in the 1940’s. He found that the quantum mechanical wave function collapses in the presence of an observer. Since the wave -particle duality is a demonstrated fact, there must be a physical significance to there being an observer. Human beings are recent, quantum particles are ancient. Yet their properties depend on an observer.

What kind of conclusion can an atheist draw from this? The usual shrug of the shoulders is merely denial - that again puts them in the company of hard-shell fundamentalists whose beliefs are not open to reason or observation.

The widespread atheism among Jews is not a proof that G_d is dead, it is a proof that the level of Jewish education is pathetic.

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