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God ?

God ?
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Let’s figure out if God exists. Do you believe in God?

With all the holiday reveling, it is important to re-explore this question and bring some grander issues the surface. However, this question is bigger than our own beliefs as to whether or not God exists. No, this questions cuts at the baggage we attach to language, the way our idea of God can change (if we have one at all), and puts us in the peculiar position of articulating our world-view.  So here goes mine:

Omar Afra

Occupation (Mis)-Managing Editor, Free Press Houston

After-life status: 72 Virgins

The word God is loaded with so much baggage.  The very explanations of what constitutes God were much more sophisticated one thousand years ago.  This is really a question on whether we believe in ANYTHING immaterial or not. I gotta say YES. Love is definitely immaterial. There are just too many stupid things we do that do not jive in an simply evolutionary context. See, I have this ugly dog. This ugly dog offers me no companionship, does not fetch slippers, shits where he pleases, hates me, and is a general burden on my life and resources. There is no Darwinian explanation on why I love this dog and continue to allow him to drain me of treasure and life force.  Some people would argue that love is merely a collection of chemicals in the brain which force you to make dumb decisions. No, I think those chemicals a only symptomatic of something immaterial going down.  But this is very well one of those instances where human language fails us. Art and music are more adept at exploring such questions.  Either way, boobies.  That’s right, boobies.

Paul Smollen

Occupation: Scientist

After-life status: Eternal Bliss

I’m a deist. I don’t belong to or believe in most of any of the major organized religions. I simply believe there is a higher being that created our spirits and who probably created, at some point, the universe. Because, there is no other way to explain the unique spirit and consciousness each of us has. It is clear to me consciousness can’t just be explained as appearing when matter is rearranged in a specific way, to make cells and to make a brain. Consciousness is more than just matter, it is different than substance. Thus it must have been created by a higher being. That being is probably also guiding the future of the universe in a very subtle way that does not contradict scientific laws. Beyond this, I don’t know much about this God, and I don’t see how one can learn enough to claim one or another of the major religions is right.

Kwame Anderson

Occupation: Teacher

After-life status: Joy on tap

The question was asked whether or not I believed in God. The difficulty in answering this question lies in the thought of God Is vs. God As. Anytime that a new land is colonized, de-colonized, or re-colonized, first comes the army, next comes the doctors and the priests. The idea of God “as” connected to the religion controlled by some dominating entity in order to make oppression more palpable is a reoccurring phenomenon throughout history. The reverence of the lord has led many to just change the lord while maintaining the reverence amidst the subtraction of rights and liberties. The idea of the will of the “chosen,” the divine birthright and such are all factors which contribute more to God as thing, as idea, as the unchallengeable authority used to control and/or maintain/create willful submission. Also, there is Claus-ian idea of the “man in the sky” who purports goodness, while allowing evil, the idea of the deserved suffering of man, the tolerance of hell on Earth in order to live in the eternal happiness only achieved in death, well that too is a point of contention. However, if one (such as I) believes that God lives in and around us, and that man’s many interpretations do not overcome the force and power of God, that faith in God does not have to be justified or proven to man. They say to only pray if you believe, I’ve prayed and believed, and I believe those prayers have been answered. God is, regardless of what he/she has been used as.

Lina Dib

Occupation: Artist (un-employed)

After-life status: Fire and brimstone

The question isn’t about God. Who is that anyway? We like to name things. I mean that’s what we do right? We point and name because otherwise we’d be back to the beginning – to noise. Noise is God. Gods are noise and we enjoy defining. Or maybe its closer to the french root of the word devine, which means to guess. Indeed it is an extreme delight to feel as though we can get closer to that which is unnamable, to abandon oneself to the divine pleasure of dancing to the noise.

Nick Cooper

Occupation: Drummer ( not really a ‘job’)

After-life status: Stuck in limbo between planes of existence

To the extent that I can imagine a spiritual power, it is connected to systems of life on Earth, not to heaven, the afterlife, nor any narrative.  It has always seemed strange to me when others think they know the truth about the spiritual or supernatural.  I can’t take it seriously when people try to convince others about their beliefs and put on a whole show about it.  When someone walks up to me and says that Jesus loves me and wants to save me from eternal torture but
cannot unless I transform, it is no more convincing than being told that Zeus demands I hand over my wallet.

Tyler Barber

Occupation: Art Director, Free Press Houston

After-life status: Eternal Torment!

Cramming Thousands of Years’ of Debate, into 300 Words

I do not believe god exists. That may sound like a very resolute statement, and no doubt it will be misinterpreted. It is important to make a distinction between what type of belief we’re talking about. There are three ways in which one can believe in god: 1) monotheism, 2) polytheism and 3) deism. As for agnosticism, it exists in the overlap between where deism ends and atheism begins (so for the sake of brevity and focus, we’ll leave agnosticism aside for now).

As with mono- and polytheism, belief in either of these systems has to allow for miracles and supernatural intervention into our personal lives. With monotheism in particular, one has to take the position, for example, that god hears your prayers and takes sides in wars — assertions that seem absurd and childish in my view. No matter how progressive the individual, the belief in one, personal god, at some point, must yield to supernatural explanations of the natural world.

Deism, on the other hand, is the belief more-or-less in what Aristotle (and later St. Thomas Aquinas) described as the “unmoved-mover.” Or, that which started the universe. Whenever you hear a religious person attach belief in god to a famous scientist (namely, Einstein) they’re trying to wedge a monotheistic, personal god onto what’s clearly a deistic outlook (and one that is fundamentally different). Still, to me, deism is a weak assertion, and its claims are sitting ducks. Every few weeks the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland is unboxing the remaining puzzle-pieces of what Aristotle’s “unmoved-mover” is.

I believe in an evidence-based world. Philosophical Naturalism is the best doctrine that describes my “belief.” I do not believe in miracles or any supernatural intervention in the universe. Nor do I believe in a supernatural beginning to our universe. To me, all we have is this amazing, intricate, ever-fascinating reality to explore. And I’m not wasting any of my time here dreaming of some place “better,” where the grass is greener after death. Rather, I am not content, but elated, to think, wonder and discover our real world.

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