The Beginning with No Beginning: God is Nature

god is nature

Hello all! I had another very long, but very fulfilling conversation in a comment thread about god and all that fun stuff. I asked permission from one of the commenters to share one of his points, which I greatly appreciated, and am actually spending a lot of time reflecting on now. Let me know what you think of it! Here you go, some insight from mydogshakespeare.

 

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Hey RanaSimon,

Since we’re all just trying to help each other out (including Believers like you, Mike!) perhaps I can share a little opinion regarding your nagging feeling that “something started us all”?

No doubt you have heard the atheist rebuttal to “Something *had* to have started it all, and that something is God”, namely “then what started God?” The Believer parry is simple (though completely unsatisfying to me) “Oh, God is *Timeless*! Always has existed, and always will!”

My rebuttal is slightly different.

Atheist (me): There are no supernatural entities operating in the universe, only natural processes.

Believer: Something *had* to have started it all, and that something is God.

Atheist (me): Actually, that “something” is just the laws of nature.

Believer: And what started the laws of nature?

Atheist (me): The laws of nature have always existed, and always will.

The difference is subtle: whereas Believers’ explanation requires a fabricated exception and surmise active “design” and “intercession” (despite rather extraordinarily clear indifference on the part of a so-called “God” though not its evil nemesis, The Devil, who is, according to many Believers, rather extraordinarily active!), I offer a natural explanation requiring no magical exceptions (and completely accounts for the rather extraordinarily clear indifference and utter lack of evidence of active “design” and “intercession” and attributes The Devil, etc., to human nature and its primitive animal instinct for the satisfaction of selfish needs, of which personal then family, clan, tribal, community, regional, national survival is paramount).

“God”, all of them as far as I can tell, provide the “magic” to fill the gaps between the operation of natural laws and human understanding of them. Well, “God”, all of them as far as I can tell, also provide effective “magic” for guiding, shepherding, manipulating, coercing, and stampeding others; but that is a story we have already shared!

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18 thoughts on “The Beginning with No Beginning: God is Nature

  1. Interesting response; thank you for sharing it. I think the writer has developed a more thought-provoking response as an Athiest than many others. I only find exception to the “active” devil contrasted to an “indifferent/inactive” God. I cannot and would not speak on behalf of anyone other than myself but God is very active in my life and from there comes my particular belief. I occasionally have one to one conversations with people who want to know why I follow a faith-based belief system or who tell me I can’t believe both in God and in a natural and scientific order to the universe. Now that is hooey to me 🙂

    • AR,

      Can you give me examples of what you mean when you say “God is very active in my life”?
      And as far as being able to zip line back and forth between natural and supernatural, yes I agree with you. It’s called cognitive dissonance. For example, when you get really hurt or really sick, the first thing you’ll think about is getting yourself to a hospital and not really believe that you can simply pray your problem away.

      • Hi Ashley: I suppose I have been quite fortunate in that I have never been hurt terribly (never broken a bone or anything like that). I have also never been hospitalized for an illness. I have been what I would call terribly sick but not to the point of near-death or anything. When I get sick, I pray. I also seek medical help when needed. When I mention God being active in my life, I think of times when I have had to make a major decision and God has given me a direction. For those who do not follow a Christian tradition of any kind or do not believe in prayer, such experiences could be defined as my own determination or fate or something. We can all interpret things in ways that are comfortable or right in our own finite minds, and for me, such things occur because of God’s work in my life. There is an old saying: I would rather live my life as if there was a God and find out that there isn’t than live my life as if there is no God and find out that there is. 🙂

        • AR,

          I’m still unclear as to how “God has given you direction” when you’ve had to make a major decision in your life. How exactly was this direction given to you and how did you know it was god that gave it?
          As far as the last paragraph in that post, I am afraid I’d never be able to follow you there. You’ve essentially invoked Pascal’s Wager. Better to be a believer and find out that it’s not true than be an unbeliever and find out that it is true. It commits way too many logical errors to be considered worthwhile. First, it makes the (I must say incredibly arrogant) assumption that the specific god that you believe in, from a list of thousands of gods, is the correct one. Secondly it makes the assumption that this god would rather someone be an unthinking sycophant believer, just in case, instead of an honest person who says they just can’t believe because there’s absolutely no evidence to base that belief on. I would just rather carry on living my life and doing the best I can without the bribery and blackmail. There’s enough strife and struggle in the world, I don’t need to add that to it as well.

          • We would probably need to sit down over a pint or cuppa to talk about it 🙂 I am not trying to convince anyone but just to say where I am in my life. No arrogance intended or implied. I came to my faith journey after years of trying to understand everything with logic and so forth, to no avail. What works for one of us out here in the blogosphere will most likely not work for another. I can respect that.

          • AR,

            In your last response, I couldn’t help but notice something that just jumped out at me. “I came to my faith journey after years of trying to understand everything with logic and so forth, to no avail.”
            You’ve essentially admitted that because you are unable to understand “everything” (I’m not exactly sure what you mean by everything) and that since you are unsatisfied with the phrase “I don’t know”, you’ve chosen to believe in a supernatural explanation for that which is currently unexplainable by natural means. Seems rather odd to throw logic and reason out the window because it can’t provide you with a satisfactory answer and believe in supernatural answers wouldn’t you say? Can you think of any other endeavor of your life where you employ this method? I’m sorry, I’m not try to pry or belittle, but I can’t wrap my head around this. “I can’t understand something, therefore I believe in god”. Seems absolutely bizarre to me.

  2. The thing is, no matter how advanced the apologetics, no matter how much ring around the rosy you have to play, the never ending circular logic thing theists like to do… Eventually it all boils down to magic or natural causes. Natural causes are easily investigated. Magic as far as I know, has yet to have been verified.

    A good apologetic will deny, obfuscate, word game, and keep the merry go round spinning so the conversation does not get there, because soon as it does, the jig is up.

    • Hey Shell! Haha! Fair point. I think the use of ‘magic’ in this context is natural occurrences or causes which have not been easily studied, and so cannot yet be proven through our current perception of nature. But obviously that is not enough for gnostic theists, who will always claim that there is no more to discover in the physical world, only the spiritual realm. XD

    • Shelldigger,

      Very succinctly put. That’s really the only weapon in the theists arsenal….the word spin game. I’ll take the naturalistic explanation over the supernatural explanation every time. If our knowledge is limited such that we cannot come up with a natural explanation that relies on evidence, tests, repeatability and peer review, then I am perfectly ok with the alternative answer – namely “I don’t know”. I am very uncomfortably saying that the laws of nature have existed forever. The smartest most curious people on the planet have absolutely no idea what went on before the Big Bang, so how could we know whether or not the laws of nature before and after the Big Bang are the same?
      I in agreement with the original posters comments about “god” filling gaps in our understanding. For some people “god” is an explanation for something that has no current natural explanation and they believe fills a knowledge gap. For me, it only creates more questions than answers and is therefore ultimately useless.

    • Shelldigger,

      And with that, you’ve really hit the nail on the head haven’t you? After reading through the orignal post, it really does just sound like a spin on words, whereby the word “god” has been substituted with the phrase “laws of nature”. There isn’t a preson on this planet, iincluding the most briliiant minds that could say absolutely that they know the laws of nature have been and always will be. The truth of the matter is, we don’t know what the universe was like before the big bang, what the laws of nature we like before time began or anything like that.
      The problem is that our minds (as smart as us humans like to think we are) demand patterns and demand explanations. And when we can’t come up with a good one, we’ll settle for a bad one, rather than none at all (i.e. “god did it”). The only response I have to that is “Fine, if it makes you happy and you admit that it’s based on a belief and nothing more, good for you.” I don’t have to agree with and really, there’s nothing to argue about. For me, the conflict starts when delusional people start insisting that their beliefs are based on scientific fact and should be taught to impressionable young school children. Bullshit like “creationism science”.

      • The ability to say “I don’t know” cannot be over emphasized.

        Also, I tell my kids a lot, nothing is forever, and things always change. The universe at its beginnings is not the same now as it was then. It has evolved, hell everything evolves in the sense that is it changes over time so that it is unrecognizable from its beginning state. A new car is a pile of rust and plastic, just waiting for time to take its toll. Everything is in a perpetual state of change. All we can do is try and understand things as they are in their present state. And, if we are smart enough, we can piece together how things were before what we know as “now.” Sometimes we can learn enough about the now, and the then, to to see what the next might be. That is what science does. Science does not know everything, but its a helluva lot better way to explain things than magic. I guess what I’m getting at, the laws of nature you mention, simply are not now what they once were, and will likely not be as they are now in the future. Change is the only thing that is constant. You just have to be standing far enough away to see it. (Damn I hope that all made sense)

        I am in full agreement with you as per belief, I don’t give a hoot what someone wants to believe. Keep your gods and your magic powers, and live in an encapsulated world free from those ding dang scientific facts all you want. But the minute you try to tell me your beliefs are a fact, or claim those beliefs should be taught as science, or make claims pertaining to actually having evidence you do not have, we are going to have issues.

        While I’m here, thanks for the positive responses to all : )

  3. First, why do some rule out the supernatural, and why is the supernatural so much a part of human thinking, movies, and so on, except that we crave it as being created in the image of God? Note also, that when asked His name in the Old Testament, God said, “I AM”. Tell them “I Am” sent you. God revealed Himself to Israel by the single distinguishing factor from all else, “I Am”. His Self-existence. This blows our minds, because created beings who all had a beginning cannot comprehend eternal, self-existence -so much so, that atheists, effectively make a god out of “stuff” being self-existent, which still leaves us with the same issue of comprehension. Atheists must add on to this the idea of the personal, the conscious, and the self-aware arising from that which is not – an incredible and illogical kind of “magic” in the extreme.

    • We? You got a mouse in your pocket? This post assumes much and while I am sure the bible stuff really does blow your mind, the rest really makes no sense. Comprehension/self aware is an evolved trait, not just in humans, but several animal species. How you turn that into some mangled atheist religion is beyond me…at least tha’ts what I tawt I taw in there.

    • Well said, RollingThunder. Although atheists attempt to explain the origins of life as being a completely natural event, they refuse to recognize the most fundamental law of nature – that, without exception, all living things derive their beginning from other living things. Thus, suggesting that life originated from lifelessness is to believe in the supernatural…because nowhere in nature is it observed to happen…and science has repeatedly proven that is doesn’t occur naturally. In short, atheists believe in a supernatural process which they cannot demonstrate and, therefore, cannot prove – MAGIC!

      One might suggest that the laws of nature change, but again, there is no evidence of such, so the suggestion does not begin to approach being a scientific explanation…just a baseless opinion which has no foundation in facts and evidences…just blind faith. When such persons are challenged to provide evidence for their assertion, they become mute.

      Another might suggest that because we don’t yet know all there is to know about the universe and life, that our scientific observations must not be relied upon for making confident decisions. However, such a view basically rejects the purpose of science altogether. The laws of gravity and thermodynamics, etc., allow us to understand the physical world in which we live to the extent that we can accomplish many great engineering feats without having to understand all the mysteries of the universe. Does one have to have an absolute understanding of the atom before he can utilize it, or is it enough to know how it behaves in response to particular stimuli? Besides, for the atheist to hope in things which cannot be proven to exist, constitutes faith, not science.

      Still another might suggest that the laws of nature have always existed and always will, but such an explanation is self-contradictory. Firstly, the purpose of laws is to establish order or rules for governing something. Where no need for order exists, no laws exist; not in human affairs and not in nature. Since natural laws are in place for the sole purpose of supporting physical life, that would imply that physical life is also eternal, which we know is not true. Secondly, the law of life demonstrates that all living things composed of physical matter have both a beginning and an end. There are no exceptions, and so if the universe is eternal, then physical life as we know it would not be characterized by birth and death, for there would be no need for them. Thirdly, the laws of thermodynamics state that all matter goes from a state of order to a state of disorder, it is obvious that the universe is not eternal, since it is still in a state of profound order. If there was a natural law to govern things going from a state of disorder to a state of order, then they might have a point…but there is no such law. Therefore, this atheistic position is still characterized by miracles…or MAGIC as atheists often prefer to describe the supernatural.

      • Hey Geddy,

        Just out of curiosity, since you’ve got the mystery of the universe all figured out, when are you getting your Nobel Prize? When and where is the award ceremony?

        • Ashley – Silly boy! they don’t give out Nobel Prizes for simply stating the obvious facts of nature. That life originates from life and that order orignates from intelligence is no mystery to the theist. Only to the atheist are these facts a mystery…and will forever remain a mystery to them.

          • Geddy,

            Come come now, you’re being far too modest! It might seem like a trivial fact of nature to you but trust me this is a big deal! You’ve solved the mystery of the universe! Trust me, they do give out Nobel prizes for such things. Lawrence Krauss hasn’t figured it out yet, Neil DeGrasse Tyson hasn’t figured it out yet, Stephen Hawking hasn’t figured it out yet, but you’re smarter than the lot of them combined! All that amazing evidence and logic that you’ve used to solve the riddle of how the universe came to be. That’s the greatest discovery mankind has ever made! You should be afforded due respect. I’m going to do some research and find out how to go about getting your name submitted for the award of that prize and I’ll get back to you. There’s no possible way you can lose. You’re a shoe in.

  4. Hey Geddy,

    For some reason when I post on my phone, my name doesn’t always show up, but that above comment from anonymous is from me. Anywho, I’ve found out a little about how we go about getting someone nominated for a Nobel Prize in Physics. Go here:http://www.nobelprize.org/nomination/physics/
    I would bet that the best way would be probably to contact a member of the Nobel Committee or a Nobel Laureate. Now I don’t know anyone of them personally, but I could find out who they are and maybe you can contact them directly yourself. I’m confident that once you show them all of your amazing evidence and the logic used to come to your conclusion, they’ll have no choice but to nominate you for an award. Hell, they might just skip the ceremony altogether and award the prize to you on the spot!
    I’ll be in touch!

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