You are tempted to caress them appreciatively while you also want to rub them angrily out of their sockets because those mischievous orbs, cord-connected to that gray, rubbery, wrinkled loaf of 100 billion cells—together becoming an infinitely creative set designer almost always scheming in its dark, solitary confinement, the domain of your soundless voice —that loaf and those orbs will profoundly but innocently deceive you while they jointly concoct the most beautiful, life-saving truths about all those light-reflecting mirages that you willingly regard as reality.
WHY I DON'T BELIEVE IN GOD AND WHY I DO
A guide for thoughtful people on the fence
Some of my friends are atheists – they are sure God doesn't exist. Some of my other friends and acquaintances do believe in God…to different degrees and in different ways. A few of my other friends are agnostics – they aren't sure if God exists or not. The title of this essay gives away my present thinking. This essay explains why I don't believe in God AND why I do. For most people, the title is intriguing; how can one not believe in God and also believe in God.
Although this essay will likely be of interest to both believers and atheists, it is written primarily for those who aren't sure, those who question the existence of God for any number of reasons. There are many questions that have been raised by thoughtful people since the time that God and gods were first conceived.
My goal is not to present a case in support of the faithful, or the doubters, or the atheists. My basic point of view can be summed up as follows: I don't believe in God -- because I do believe in science.
I believe in the prospect of a condition that might be called God because I believe in evolution.
Many books have been written that argue for God or against God, but I know of no book that argues for both positions concurrently in a logically integrated, non-religious way. The notion (arguing for and against god at the same time) must surely sound contradictory in a profound sense. But if a reader follows the logic of my argument, he or she may find these ideas far from mutually exclusive.
I do not believe in a God that was but rather in a form of God (a cosmic circumstance) that inevitably will be or will always be tending to be.
I do not believe in what I regard as the simplistic notion that a god started the universe and continues to rule it, control it, or inspire it in one fashion or another. That is to say that I don't believe in the God of any Bible or the Koran, or any other historic religious text.
I do believe in a universe that seems to be moving, through a complicated and nuanced process I call cosmic evolution, toward a future state that one could say has godlike properties. This godlike state will never be attained because I believe in a universe eternally unfolding in an infinite expanse of space. But the godlike state I envision will positively always be in front of us – not behind us. That godlike condition didn't exist at the beginning of time because I believe in a self-made universe, not a God-made universe. Certain findings of science support the idea of a self-made universe, unfolding and evolving, not according to a priori rules and laws of nature but according to rules (constraints and opportunities) that the emergent features and forces of the universe create of their own accord.
One might object immediately to what I am suggesting above by saying this concept sounds suspiciously teleological, that is to say, it sounds like the argument for the existence of God from the evidence of order, and hence, design in nature. In my judgment, the teleological argument is also overly simplistic and falls short when all the facts are on the table.
I should mention that I am a cultural Jew who was Bar Mitzvahed and Confirmed in a synagogue, but who, shortly thereafter, turned toward atheism. My mother was an atheist (except just before her death) as was her father who followed the writings of Bertrand Russell, the great English philosopher. My father was a conservative Jew who regularly went to synagogue but he was a Jew who followed the reconstructionist movement of Judaism. He once told me I could continue to be a cultural Jew, should I choose that course, at the same time that the door was wide open for me to explore any belief system I might choose. Initially, I chose atheism but more recently my interest in science, human behavior, and abstract thought has led me to modify my belief system.
As I said earlier, I now believe in what I call a self-made universe. In a book I started to write, I will present a case for that concept. If the case stands up to questioning by laypeople, philosophers, and scientists, then it seems that the unavoidable consequence of my belief in a self-made universe is the notion of future god. That means that God cannot be found at the beginning of time but is at the other end of the evolutionary cosmic calendar.
God is what might be regarded as a future state. The universe is concurrently both falling down and rising up. It is both on a course of entropic dissolution, at the same time it is on a course of entropic ascent (negentropy). What is happening on the surface of the earth is proof of that ascent. What is occurring here on earth and presumably in like places throughout the universe is not a universal winding down of energy forms but, in limited locales, a cranking up of energy forms, an elevation in what might be called the spirit of structure. Intelligence, an emergent property, has been born of biological processes and that intelligence has given birth to the intangibles of beauty, goodness, justice, compassion, respect, and also power; the power to do good, and the power to do evil. Now think of the traditional view of God; it is a being that supposedly promotes goodness, justice, compassion, respect. It's just that the sequence of emergence is reversed.
So God, as in the idea and goal of goodness, is an emergent property of cosmic evolution. That is why I Don't Believe in God and why I Do Believe in God. Those of our actions on this earth, if they are directed toward positive ends, are in the continuing process of weaving a fragile but certain cosmic fabric that one might call god. In this sense, I believe all creatures on this earth, in varying degrees, are god in the making. I don't regard this view as a religious construct but as an inescapable scientific inevitability.