Here is another excerpt from Dr Stephen Uhl’s book Out of God’s Closet. He discusses a practical, pragmatic view of belief in a god. You can find out more about his book HERE.
Today we cannot take any responsibility for the ancient telling of tall tales, myths, mistakes and ignorance of past generations; but in this information age we need not continue to be victims of such blindness either. What Moses and St. Thomas freely, gratuitously, assumed and asserted, we can freely deny. This demonstrates an accepted principle of logic and law: anything that is gratuitously asserted can be gratuitously denied.
Many molders of public opinion today have held on to the old assumption of God who, they say, deserves respect and obedience. Instead of listening to these messengers of an assumed world, we may be better served by the wisdom of Mark Twain. He humbly admitted that “It ain’t what I don’t know that gets me in trouble; it’s what I know for sure that ain’t so—that’s what gets me in trouble.”
By now you can likely appreciate the practical need for frank and truthful humility regarding the old improbable assumption of the existence of some perfect and loving god. We have seen over and over how supernatural faith has been involved when the human race gets itself into its most difficult scrapes—from Ahuramazda to Zeus, not one god of the total pantheon has actually lifted a finger to lighten our natural load of human responsibilities.
Look around you and observe all the world’s evils and imperfections, the tsunamis, the hurricanes, floods, droughts, religious absurdities, childhood cancers, and other diseases. Look at the natural economy of the big fish eating the little fish, the powerful fox crushing the weaker rabbit, the pain and suffering in nature’s economy of the survival of the fittest. Surely it makes you wonder how these could possibly be evidence of a supposed powerful, wise and loving God. Such evident divine impotence or lack of love gives us strong arguments against there being a perfect god at all. And one of the very strongest arguments for there being no god at all is given by the most enthusiastic believers themselves. In the name of their gods, jihads of all sorts have divided and killed millions for centuries, in crusade after crusade (biblical, modern and in between).
The headline “Faithful religionists attack Atheists and other heretics” would hardly raise an eyebrow. By contrast, have you ever seen a headline like “Agnostics killing Humanists to convert them”? Or “Angry Atheists attack Agnostics and Skeptics for their heresies”? It is unlikely you ever will. “By their fruits you shall know them” is supposed to have come straight from the lips of Christ. Can you get bad fruit from a good tree? Humankind is still harvesting a lot of bad fruit from the trees of the God assumption and the thousands of divisive cults and sects springing from that assumption. And these divisive sects keep multiplying their schisms in the twenty-first century as they splinter further into those religious groups who, for example, reject homosexuals versus those that accept homosexuals as good human beings.
Pragmatism to The Rescue?
It is futile for natural man to try to logically prove or disprove an assumed supernatural being; it is simply beyond man’s ability to know beyond this world of nature. (Try lifting yourself by your own ankles. Or directly study your own brain in a state of total inactivity.) Logically we must humbly admit that we don’t know, we can’t know with purely logical certainty of any supernatural being. As purely natural human beings, we can only know of this natural universe. Of course, as imaginative beings, not constrained by reason, we can imagine or assume anything, real or not; in our imaginations, hopes and dreams, we can create anything, but that does not make any of it objectively real.
However, pragmatically or practically speaking, the natural evidence of no supernatural caring power can be quite convincing. The ancient Greek philosopher, Epicurus (ca. 300 BCE), made this very brief but strong case for No Good God:
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?”
These are important questions that beg for thoughtful answers. Try asking these Epicurean questions in situations such as: tsunamis, earthquakes and hurricanes destroying innocent families and homes, floods, droughts, wars, famines, epidemics, holocausts and other genocides.
Once we collectively have the truthful humility to admit that we are just natural, rational human beings who do not owe anything to anyone outside this great natural world, we will be able to shed a myriad of impediments to progress in our challenging battles with nature. Epicurus now makes so much sense that I think those fellow human beings who insist that they have supernatural knowledge may reasonably be seen to be victims of their own imaginations or of incorrigible pride. But, remember, if they are sincere, not hypocritical nor manipulative, conscientious, true to themselves, it behooves us to be tolerant and accepting of them as neighbors on this small planet!