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Gods

There’s a not-very-interesting religious question about whether or not God exists, with God defined as a limit and explanation of all experience.  It’s not very interesting because it’s undecidable.  At the end of the day you might call the limit beyond which human thought can’t go God or you might not.  And what does it matter?  Spinoza called everything that could exist God-Or-Nature, and that formulation just about sums up how little interest there is in the question, whether to call The All God or Nature.   Why should we care?

A more interesting religious question in whether gods exist.  A god is a being whose meaning and power is so overwhelming that it makes sense to worship it.  By “worship” I mean giving up one’s other commitments and staking one’s life on the relationship to this god.

Do they exist?  Did they ever exist?  Could they exist?   Could we build them?  Could one arrive from another planet?

There is a lot of discussion on the internet between so called “atheists” and so-called “believers” about whether God exists, but these punt on the more critical question: do gods exist and could they?

Is it a feature of the scientific world view to say that gods could not exist?  How could that be a scientific opinion?

I’m not sure how people break on the possible existence of gods.  I suspect that there are many secularists who believe in them or would be open to believing in them under the right circumstances, and, perhaps, some religious believers who do not.

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5 thoughts on “Gods

  1. N.S. Palmer says:

    Dunno. Just because the idea of God has no pragmatic application doesn’t make it pointless. It can be part of a way of looking at life and the world that help us be happy and productive people.

    By your definition, “gods” need not be supernatural. They only need to inspire overwhelming commitment. I can think of people like that: remarkable people for whom others would unhesitatingly take a bullet. But nobody would call them gods, at least not in the ordinary sense of the words.

  2. Mikey says:

    Yes! Gods exist. The god of a neuron is the person. The neuron might think “I’ll get on better in this world if I do my job, help out my friends, pass this electric signal on when it’s passed to me” but it makes more sense for the neuron to think “I’ll devote my existence to the worship of the Person, and I’ll tie my flourishing to the flourishing of the Person”.

    I know that makes sense because I am one such god, and I demand just such worship from my neurons. The truth is that if I discovered one disobedient neuron I probably wouldn’t do anything about it. But if I found an entire cult of egoist or blasphemous neurons, I’d be tempted to eradicate them in some way, or at least neutralise them.

      • Mikey says:

        Of course! There are egocentric neurons – the ones that serve only their own ends and do what they want. All the other neurons basically see egoist neurons as broken and annoying so they don’t last long and there’s no incentive. They’ve effectively insane. There are the me-worshippers, who want to do what’s best for me and do it. Then there are the job-doers, who just do their job and it helps me. It’s hard to tell which is best out of those last two, because really, what do I care what their motivations are, right? I think the case of the cultists helpfully points to the difference. The cultist is part of a big group of neurons who are all interested in a particular god, which isn’t me. There might be all kinds of cults in my brain with lots of different gods. I think there’s a cult of breathing, and a cult of kidney and a cult of Fight or Flight and a cult of human facial recognition and a cult of trusting in authority and a cult of fear of snails. Most of the cults are subservient to me, but sometimes they’re at odds with my overall plan and sometimes (like with the cult of fear of snails) they’re actually against my plans completely.

        So the neuron in the cult of fear of snails could ask these questions: Am I doing my job (pass the electrical impulse along)? Is my cult doing its job (freaking out about snails)? Are my fellow cultists doing their jobs properly? Could I do my job any more efficiently?

        But what I’d like him to say is: Am I worshipping Mikey by what I do?

        Obviously he’s just a neuron, so he wouldn’t have any good way of answering that question. But he’s got more chance than a nephron.

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