A Jaunt into Philosophy 2: The Issue of God and Religion

Here’s the second post in a short series in philosophy. The first one on Freedom vs Determinism can be found HERE!    This one is on God and Religion. 

Philosophers differ profoundly on the issue of God and religion. Many see the world in pure scientific eyes. There is nothing except that which can be tested by scientific method and natural law. Those that hold this view believe that evolution shows that through natural selection, mankind evolved from lesser species thereby refuting the statements about the origins of man contained in some religious scriptures. (Burr and Goldinger 105).

Others counter this purely scientific view of the world by evoking the idea of design. They contend that it would be highly improbable that such an intricately formed earth could have come into existence by chance, thus necessitating belief in a Creator who designed the universe. Some scientists do believe in God and state that evolution is not incompatible with a non-literal reading of, for instance, the Bible. Burr and Goldinger point out that some common arguments for God’s existence such as using ancient scriptures to justify God or pointing to the fact that the majority of the world believes in God are invalid arguments.  Many things that were once believed to be true have been proven untrue and there is no verifiable evidence that the ancient scriptures are actually from God (105).

Despite the arguments against belief in God, many people continue to believe in God. In their view, everything can be explained by pointing to God as the originator and ultimate arbitrator of life. Nagel states that “the idea of God seems to be the idea of something that can explain everything else, without having to be explained itself (99). He seems to have a problem with this type of reasoning. If God gives meaning to life, but the meaning of God itself cannot be explained, then how can this be helpful? It seems that the only logical explanation for believing in God is faith, and once again this lacks the empirical evidence that makes it something which can be studied. But perhaps, that is the point and is exactly what Nagel is getting at when he says “the belief in God is the belief that the universe is intelligible, but not to us” (100). We may never know what is beyond this life we see which is something Plato points out when he describes Socrates’ contemplation about what may lie beyond his life (26). At the end of the philosophical argument about the existence of God, many people continue to believe in God without question, which is a prospect that Nagel finds hard to understand (91). But ultimately, one cannot disprove the personal religious experiences of another. These experiences can reinforce and strengthen a person’s faith and becomes nearly like a proof that God exists. These types of personal experiences are powerful and a person is not likely to be talked out of his or her belief even by a well-meaning philosopher




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