Just Don’t Think About It

dontthink1-e1324031637979There seem to be two basic explanations for the origin of all physical reality (i.e. the universe):

1. God caused it
2. There is no explanation

I’ve often been accused, simply on the grounds that I’m a theist, of attempting to halt inquiry. This strikes me as odd, of course, in that those making the accusation are generally of the position that “there is no explanation” or “we don’t know, and should therefore change the subject” is the correct answer to this issue. Surely, I could be forgiven for thinking that as inquiry goes, there isn’t much here to be halted.

But this doesn’t really defend the theist, and I think the more important point here is this: “God caused it” is not a halt to inquiry at all. To be certain, it is not a material explanation. It doesn’t further science to say that God did something without also saying how, in terms of matter and physical laws, he brought it about.

Still, that doesn’t mean that this is not an explanation, let alone a halt to all explanation. To insist that all explanation is scientific is to embrace materialism, which presumes that God does not exist. To use this as an argument against God, then, is wholly circular.

Rather, I find that most who argue that “God caused it” is a halt to inquiry are completely unaware that there is more to be said and discovered about that. I’ve even been told that God is a vague concept. I think this is mostly owing to our current poverty in theology (to which I cannot claim to be immune). The idea of God has been discussed, defined, argued over, and refined for millennia, to say that this is a vague answer or a “semantic cop-out” is simply to announce one’s own ignorance of the history of western academics.

How did God cause the universe?
What does that say about his traits?
Has he created other universes?

These are all interesting questions, and, so long as one is willing to let others ask and attempt to answer them, it can’t be said that one is halting inquiry by proposing God as a cause of the universe.

To halt inquiry is, literally, to stop asking. It seems to me that the dismissive way some suggest that we don’t know what caused the universe, and shouldn’t try to look at what that might be, are attempting to stop inquiry. But (falsely) suggesting that one’s opponent wants to stop asking questions right after concluding God acted is no reason to stop asking just before this.

Of course, most who make this argument are (in my experience) fond of saying that they are “okay with not knowing”. But it is hard to see how this is any different than saying one is “okay with halting inquiry” or “okay with being ignorant”.

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25 responses to “Just Don’t Think About It

  • tonyroberts64

    I fully concur. “The fear of the Lord” — respect for God’s creative power — is the beginning, not the end of wisdom.

  • Hank

    I believe, from experience, that most humans have an impossible time getting their minds around any concept that does not avail itself to a finite definition,or perfect visible proof. The concept of God is a concept that HAS to include no visible tangible proof, in order for to be accepted as the reason for our existence.
    The idea that there is a spiritual realm that is unseen, to us, including, not only God, but MILLIONS of angels, as described in the bible, is laughable to the atheist.
    Material nature is a kind of fun-house mirror image of the spiritual. More definitively, they are opposites.
    The spiritual realm is invisible. The material realm is visible. The spiritual realm is infinite. The material realm, as far as we know, is finite. We are finite, spirit creatures are infinite. ALL material nature can be proven by one or more of the five – easily provable human senses. Spiritual nature can only be believed to exist; and cannot be proven by any of the five senses. With intelligence and an open mind it can be believed tho.
    If we really look at what we do know about material nature, we see that there absolutely CANNOT be a limit to it. It has to be infinite. It is an easy fact to prove, BUT, only by THINKING about it. I remember being 14 or 15 and a friend making the point very clear to me. He said, IF there were a border, or barrier, to the universe, WHAT is behind or beyond that barrier ?
    Isn’t that interesting, hmmm. Here we have material nature having no end, and in fact, being infinite.
    IF a man can consider his actual physical size in all of the provable, physical universe, how can he claim that there is no God ?
    It takes a man of character to ask himself, ‘who am I to say that there is no God ?
    IF the universe is infinite, which I can’t think of a reason why it would not be so, IT, must have always been. Not necessarily all that we see has always been, but the infinity of all that IS, had to have always been. When any of us SANE people think about the idea of dying, we revolt from it. Every natural human instinct cries out against the idea of death. I cannot pick a day in the future on which I would wish to die. As a matter of fact I have the actual idea of eternity planted in my thoughts. Obviously, chances are good that I will die. I say chances because I do believe the God of the bible is and I do believe the end of ‘this system of things’ is close. To those that understand the bible, or, God’s Word, the tribulation, which is going on now, and getting worse, is not as scary as most people believe it is, IF they understand the bible and love God. People seem to miss the fact that Revelation 1:1, states that it is written IN SIGNS. “…..And he sent forth his angel and presented [it] in signs through him to his slave John,… ”
    Oh don’t the movies just love to make the truth appear so violent and scary!
    Revelation is in harmony with the visions given to Daniel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Ezekiel, which were written more the 700 years before Revelation. The angel that came to Daniel described what the beast(s) were in his visions, explaining some things Daniel saw were to be ‘sealed up’ (not understood) for the time of the end, and many would ‘rove about’, to spread the truth. Daniel 12:4: ” “And as for you, O Daniel, make secret the words and seal up the book, until the time of [the] end. Many will rove about, and the [true] knowledge will become abundant.” Remember, (to those who have read Matthew), in Matthew Jesus helps us to understand WHY Daniel was given the vision, as Jesus says in Matthew 24:14; ” And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come. ”
    When one really comes to read AND understand the bible that one comes to the conclusion that it was written most importantly for that “generation” that will not pass away, before ‘all these things happen, as described in Matthew, 24:34 by Jesus; ” “Truly I say to ​YOU​ that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.
    It is the only explanation. The bible was meant FOR US who are living NOW, more than any other time. The bible clearly states that understanding all the prophecy would not be possible until the generation that lives in the ‘end of this system of things’ exist. None of the words spoken by Jesus were for his disciples, concerning the signs of the end times that they wanted to know about. Jesus doesn’t tell them that tho. Certainly none of the things Jesus described were going on at that time, BUT the disciples had no idea when they would occur. For all they knew, it could have been in a few years from then.
    Of course, a person only understanding the bible will see this clearly.
    That book absolutely BLEW my mind! And THAT is nothing.

  • myatheistlife

    Saying god did it does not halt inquiry but it does allow those who are wont to to stop being inquisitive – and they are legion. To say I’m happy with not knowing is a mischaracterization. Being one who says this, I say it because we don’t know yet. I say it while we continue looking and support every effort to find out. It’s like saying you are ok with not knowing what is wrong with your car while the mechanic works feverishly to find out.

    The simple truth is that those who believe that god did it are not the ones looking for the answer. They may be assisting, but they already have their conclusion and are simply working on some small part of it, or collecting a check doing something they find interesting. When you know that god did it without any evidence to support that conclusion, you have no reason to inquire further. To say I don’t know is not to say ‘we’ will never know. There is some miniscule chance that after thousands of years of inquiry we will find that actually there is a god like being that did it. To accept that conclusion without evidence is to halt inquiry.

    When you say you know where your keys are is to halt the search for them. Nobody in their right mind looks for things that are already known. You seem to be advocating for looking for lost keys that you know the location of. This makes no sense. To search anyway is to either knowingly waste time or supports the idea that you don’t really know where they are, you simply lied and said you did.

    • Debilis

      Either statement allows people to stop thinking. This is at least as true of the materialist view as theism.

      In fact, it is more true. Passively waiting to find out from experts assumes no good reasons are being given to know something about the cause. And that is expressly refusing to think about the reasons why God is involved in the creation of the universe.

      But you completely mischaracterize the situation here. It is has been demonstrated that something very much like God is the initial cause of material reality. To refuse to accept that fact on the grounds that you’re waiting for someone to give you even more proof is to avoid the obvious conclusion.

      Hence, to halt inquiry.

  • Arkenaten

    Accepting ‘God did it’ based on the bible – which is pretty much all false doctrine or ‘personal revelation’ , which is nothing but self delusion, is like accepting Santa brought you presents after seeing your dad put on the false beard.

    • Debilis

      Who said anything about “based on the Bible”?

      And, for that matter, how have you shown that it is nothing but self-delusion? What is your evidence that there is nothing in the Bible than that?

      • Arkenaten

        The only evidence you have to claim a god was responsible IS the bible. “It is written…”

        Personal revelation is delusion, otherwise the message received would be the same.
        Based on the number of christian denominations alone, 40,000 and counting, let alone claimed revelation from other religions, this is patently false.

        And this in turn shows how ridiculous similar claims from the original Church Fathers and biblical compilers was.
        The bible has been shown conclusively to be errant in every claim.
        Surely you don’t require a list?
        For clarity sake, two examples. Noah and his flood and Moses and the Exodus.
        Spurious nonsense as proven by archaeology.

    • Debilis

      I’ve not appealed to the Bible as evidence anywhere in this post–or anywhere else on this blog. I’ve presented all kinds of evidence for my position without relying on the Bible at all. Simply claiming otherwise does not change this.

      Nor have I appealed to personal revelation. You can scour this site as long as you’d like. You’ll not find any point at which I appeal to it. But, if you call it a delusion, I would expect you to provide some support for that. That is, you need to offer evidence showing that whatever beliefs you think I’ve learned through “personal revelation” are false.

      So, none of this has anything (at all) to do with anything I’ve written anywhere on this blog.

      • Arkenaten

        As mentioned on other posts.Firstly you are a christian. To disregard this is disingenuous as it influences everything you believe.
        It would just as disingenuous for me to sidestep that I am an atheist.
        However, if your brand of theism does NOT include Yashu’a then I apologize.
        Please let me know?

      • Arkenaten

        Ah, I popped to your about page and found this…..

        ”For those who are interested, I happen to be a Christian.”
        This rather vindicates what I have been saying all along and pisses on the cornflakes of impartiality, does it not?

        Naughty Debilis.
        I thought you lot were supposed to be honest?
        Is your nose growing?

    • Debilis

      I’ve never once denied being a Christian. As you point out, I’ve stated it directly.

      What I said was that wether or not I am a Christian is completely irrelevant to the point I was making. My arguments are either sound, or they are not. Whatever else I might happen to think (I doubt your understanding of my beliefs is terribly accurate) has nothing at all to do with what I’ve said.

      If you made an excellent argument against God’s existence, and I responded with “but your are an atheist, and that influences what you think” would you consider that a good argument?

      The same goes here. I could be completely wrong about everything else I think, and that wouldn’t do the slightest to show me wrong about my arguments. They need to be dealt with on their own merits.

      • Arkenaten

        There would be nothing to argue or debate about if it were not for the bible, and your interpretation not it. Cannot you even grasp something so simple?
        You go on and on as if the two – god belief and scripture- are completely irrelevant to each other.

        You argument is solely based of your assumption that there is a god and you proceed from there.
        And your only awareness of this deity is from the bible.
        Furthermore, your god is based on the character of Yashu’a; a human being.

        For your argument to hold any water at all you first have to become solely a deist, divesting yourself of every single piece of Christian dogma and THEN you have to demonstrate where you derived the notion of a creator.
        Until that time you are, as I have oft said before, merely pissing i the wind.

        So I reiterate. All philosophical conjecture aside:

        1. Where do you derive your notion of a creator?

    • Debilis

      Of course there would be things to debate about here if it weren’t for the Bible. People have been debating this since before the Bible was written.

      Certainly, Plato was debating the topic before Christianity.

      But I completely agree with you that belief in the Christian God and scripture are related. What I said was that establishing that theism better explains the existence of the universe doesn’t require belief in scripture. It doesn’t even require belief in Christianity.

      So, while scripture and the cosmological argument (which is what this post is about) have something to do with each other, it’s a pretty distant relationship.

      More than that, belief in scripture follows from belief in God, not the other way around.

      So, nothing I’ve claimed here remotely requires that the Bible is true. We’ll get to that, but that doesn’t affect what I’ve said here.

      Nor do I have to become solely a deist to argue for things other than the Bible. That doesn’t make sense. I discuss things other than the Bible all the time; why should this be any different?

      Showing that theism in general is valid is simply one step in showing that Christianity is true. But that doesn’t remotely require me to start with the Bible. I’m starting here instead.

    • Debilis

      Where do I derive my notion?

      As in, where did I first hear about it, or what is my rational basis for believing it?

      I honestly have no memory of where I first heard it. Nor, incidentally, do I remember where I first heard that 2 + 2 = 4. And, since this has nothing to do with why I think these things are true, I don’t much care.

      As to why I think it is true, the answers are posted all over this blog. This particular thread happens to be about the cosmological arguments. Are you interested in discussing them?

      • Arkenaten

        I can guess you learned basic arithmetic at your mum’s knee of in kinder garden. That is not rocket science.
        Apply similar criteria to the creator issue. Both angles if you like. Simply take a guess if that’s easier.?
        I reiterate: Where do you derive your notion of a creator?

    • Debilis

      I derive it from the observations that are posted all over this blog.

      I noticed that there were quite a few things that weren’t remotely explained by materialism, but which are explained by theism.

      Hence, I concluded that theism is more likely to be true.

      This is where I derived my notion of a creator.

  • paarsurrey

    Reblogged this on paarsurrey and commented:
    Paarsurrey says:

    I agree with you. It does not halt inquiry to say that one true God did it. In fact it open two ways of inquiry. Firstly from the Word of Revelation of the one true God as to how he did it. Secondly from the available material/physical data, at a certain point of time, as to how it did happen. The one true God does not prohibit one to make this twofold inquiry; in fact He exhorts one to do it.
    Those who say we don’t know are not better poised in anyway.

  • Witty Ludwig

    Personally, I think your point (1) is a massive leap. You might as well follow it with:

    1.1 Or Glorb is responsible.
    1.12 Or Molarbi created it.
    1.13 Or Jitramalahad causes the sensation to occur.

    Etc. etc.

    • writtenbyafloridian

      Did you read this: “Rather, I find that most who argue that “God caused it” is a halt to inquiry are completely unaware that there is more to be said and discovered about that. I’ve even been told that God is a vague concept. I think this is mostly owing to our current poverty in theology (to which I cannot claim to be immune). The idea of God has been discussed, defined, argued over, and refined for millennia, to say that this is a vague answer or a “semantic cop-out” is simply to announce one’s own ignorance of the history of western academics.

      How did God cause the universe?
      What does that say about his traits?
      Has he created other universes?

      These are all interesting questions, and, so long as one is willing to let others ask and attempt to answer them, it can’t be said that one is halting inquiry by proposing God as a cause of the universe.”

      Also, do you mean a massive leap in logic? Or what exactly?

      Perhaps, I should also add that no one, Deb especially, is advocating a halt to empirical enquiry about the origin, evolution, and natural structure of the cosmos or the life that resides in that cosmos. As he said, “It doesn’t further science to say that God did something without also saying how, in terms of matter and physical laws, he brought it about.”

      Cheers

      • Witty Ludwig

        It contains the problem, though:

        “The idea of God has been discussed, defined, argued over, and refined for millennia, to say that this is a vague answer or a “semantic cop-out” is simply to announce one’s own ignorance of the history of western academics.”

        This isn’t true at all. Academics have had fun in the last two hundred years trying to ‘discuss, define, and refine’ an object or concept such as a ‘table’, or a ‘game’. The language games that take place with a metaphysical concept such as ‘god’ are even more varied. In terms of the leap, I suppose you could say logic but certainly not in a mathematical or predicate sense, etc..

        Look at the grammar of the word– let alone the different understandings between different religions of the word ‘god’, look to the arguments within one, such as Christianity, as to what is a permissible, correct, ignorant, misconceived, etc. understanding of the word and then compare this with how deists view (and by this, I really mean *use* the word) the word as well as the non-religious. Christian sects within the same country, within different countries, at different times, etc.. all with the scope and tendency for disagreement.

        “For example, people might dispute about how many arms God had, and someone might enter the dispute by denying that one could talk about arms of God. This would throw light on the use of the word. What is ridiculous or blasphemous also shows the grammar of the word.’”

        There are two main issues with (1), I suppose. The first is the substitutability of the word ‘god’ for absolutely anything, which would still let it have meaning provided there was a shared cultural usage of the word; the second is the presupposition of causation.

        In any case, interesting stuff being discussed. Out of interest, I presume the author(s) are either from the USA or live there?

  • Just don’t think about it: A response | Random thoughts

    […] You have met Debilis, our resident apologist whose main occupation is either to attack the claims of materialism or New Atheists without supporting his claims. To engage with him on his posts is usually a slippery affair because one can hardly ever pin point what it is he is defending. Having said that, let us look at this post. […]

  • paarsurrey

    I happen to visit the blog by makagutu and found from him.
    I wrote following posts there:

    paarsurrey says:
    July 22, 2013 at 01:19
    Quoting the words:
    “god is a vague a word without meaning”.

    The replace “God” with Allah. Please

    paarsurrey says:
    July 22, 2013 at 01:10
    I quote:
    “Please tell me, how does positing god did it answer the question he posed?”

    The one true “God did it” in a sense is a summary for all the stages that took place after when He commanded the words “to be”; for an ordinary man in the street who has minimum interest in the scientific details.

    Debilis writes with good reasons.

    paarsurrey says:
    July 22, 2013 at 01:30
    Quoting the words:
    ““God caused it” is not a halt to inquiry at all.

    And say it doesn’t halt inquiry is to be intellectually dishonest.”

    There is no dishonesty in it; as I wrote earlier it is in a sense a brief reply to an ordinary person who has least interest and no capacity to understand all the scientific details. Even if somebody tells such persons the details; they cannot understand them; it is beyond their comprehension.

    paarsurrey says:
    July 22, 2013 at 01:36
    Quoting the words:
    “claims of materialism is circular”
    They remain within the circle of matter; can’t look beyond it; while reality is not limited within the matter or the physical.
    Their vision is limited within matter.; they should broaden their vision, in my opinion.

    paarsurrey says:
    July 22, 2013 at 02:02
    I would like to say that the conclusions drawn are not correct.
    The Word Revealed is intended for guidance of man in ethical, moral and spiritual realms. Bible is not in its original text; the debris of time has added much to it and with translation after translation the original meanings have been lost to much extent.

    Anyway it was not intended as a text book of science; and those who want to take it as such are wrong.
    The founders of religions like Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad were practical men; they remained committed to the cause they were sent with from the one true God for uplift of human beings in ethical, moral and spiritual domains.
    They never uttered a word even against science or the scientists; that is a separate field dealing in the material and physical things; they left it open for those who were dealing in them.
    So the founders of religion did no block any field of inquiry rather they opened it wide.
    Things belonging in the physical or material domains are to be left with the experts in these fields; those belonging in ethical, moral and spiritual realms are to be dealt with the verses of the Word Revealed.
    There is absolutely no contradiction there, in my opinion.

    OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

    This is just for information

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