So, back to that Easter/is-there-a-god? ( of any kind) question. Quite ironically, the other day I had to spend a while trying to explain to one of my public speaking students why I didn’t approve of his proposed persuasive argument: there is no god.
This particular student is an aspiring physicist. Bully for him. He’s got that scientific, empirical-mindedness on lock-down, based on his unwillingness to agree with me that for him to “prove” there is no god is just as impossible for another person (that true believer) to prove there is indeed one. What would his “evidence” be, other than the lack of any evidence whatsoever that god exists? There is not one shred of actual, direct, conclusive evidence on either side of this confounding argument.There’s circumstantial evidence. Sure.You know, the good and evil in the world. A seeming miracle here, an unspeakable horror there. The Virgin Mary’s image on burnt toast. The slaughter of those children at Sandy Hook. It’s called inferential reasoning. But, like the weather forecasters do, that sort of connecting the dots line of reasoning may or may not lead to any ultimate, accurate, truth. There’s no predicting the future with any accuracy. Well, other than what the Chicago Cubs pose in that regard. But in this case, I’d say one can connect dots that wrap around the world and then realize the dots lead nowhere but back to dot One. I said I (grudgingly) believe there must be a power or “creator” behind our existence. We could not have come from nothing, because how can nothing produce something unless there is something with which to create from, however rudimentary or minuscule? But then, from whence did that itsy bit of something come? And so on and so on. And this posssible supreme being/power? Same question.
We can see the stars and moon and the life-sustaining sun, but while these celestial wonders inspire spiritual speculation and lots of sappy love poems, they certainly don’t give us any way of knowing why they exist in the first place. Scientist can talk about super novas, black holes and the Big Bang and blow our minds with their rigorous calculations and cause/effects, but they have yet to find some supreme being out there overseeing the seemingly endless, cold infinite reaches of deep space. Of course! There has to be a god! Just look up there. That proves it? Look around down here. Sure about that?
So, my rigorously logical thinking student, with all of the tangible evidence of what does indeed exist, right down to his string theory discourse, seems to feel he is entitled to invoke that, all that we can see, feel, hear, taste, touch, smell and dream of is somehow able to ipso facto prove that another thing most certainly cannot exist. The true believer has the same circumstantial evidence.
There is no way of knowing who is right in this matter. And all that bloodshed won’t ever clear things up. However, the bitter irony is that seeing isn’t believing, one way or another. It’s believing is seeing…or not seeing.
Take your pick. Just don’t try to sell either variety of that snake oil in my classroom. Take it outside. Settle it in the parking lot of the Milky Way, as far from me as possible. I don’t want to get any splatter on my soul.