Why I believe in God particularly or more generally in a spiritual side to existence


(Mitchell W McKain) #1

Everyone should feel free to give their own reasons for belief concerning the nature of reality on a similar scale… or you can simply ask for details on any of these particular reasons I have given.

  1. As a physicist I have to ask myself as other physicists have asked themselves whether life as we experience really can be summed up in the mathematical equations of physics. My necessarily subjective conclusion, the same as many others, is that the very idea is absurd. Science puts our experience through the filter of mathematical glasses and to be sure this methodology has proven marvelously successful at not only explaining many things but discovering new things about the world that we never expected. But this is just looking at life in one particular way and I think it is quite foolish to confuse this way of looking at things with the reality itself.

  2. It was through existentialism that I made a connection that first gave some meaning to the word “God” for me (I was not raised in a religion unless it is the “religions” of liberalism and psychology). I came to the conclusion that the most fundamental existentialist faith was the faith that life was worth living. I also concluded that for theists their faith in God played the same role for them in their lives, suggesting that the two kinds of faith were really the same thing in different words. That equivalence basically became my working definition for “God”, and from there it was a matter of judging what understanding of God best served that purpose. This is the beginning of a long involved path that led me to Christianity.

  3. Physicists experience shock and cognitive dissonance when they first understand what quantum physics is saying for it seems to contradict the logical premises of physics and scientific inquiry itself. But there is one thing that makes sense of it to me at least. If the universe was the creation of a deity who wanted keep his fingers in events then these facts of quantum physics would provide a back door in the laws of nature through which He could do so without disturbing the laws of nature. I am not saying that any such conclusion is necessitated by the scientific facts; only that on this subjective level where quantum physics created such cognitive dissonance for so many physicists, that this idea would make sense of it – to me

  4. I have considerable sympathy with the sentiments of the eastern mystics that logic is stultifying trap for human thought and consciousness. The result is that even if I found no other reasons to believe in a God or a spiritual side to reality and human existence I would very much see the need to fabricate them for the sake of our own liberty of thought. We need a belief in something transcendent in order for us transcend the limitations of logic and mundane (or material) reasons to give our uniquely human ability for abstraction more substance and life.

  5. I feel there are profound pragmatic reasons to reject the idea that reality is exclusively objective because it immediately takes any conviction about reality to a conclusion that the people who disagree with you are detached from reality and delusional or in some other way defective, I don’t believe that this is at all conducive to the values and ideals of a free society. The plain fact is that our direct contact with reality is wholly subjective and it is the objective which is the abstraction that has to be fabricated. Now I certainly think there is very good evidence that there is an objective aspect to reality but I see nothing to support taking this to the extreme of presuming that reality is exclusively objective (i.e. exactly the same for everyone).


Two questions about how central the question of origins is to your core beliefs
#2

Now THAT is interesting!

I see no reason for existence itself without God. Nihilism is the ONLY other option.

If you do not assume an objective reality, you wind up trapped in an endless rabbit hole that may well lead to madness…


(Mitchell W McKain) #3

The above OP is something I have posted quite a few times in different places but it occurs to me now that I can do something different here. I can take a look at the connection these reasons have to the sort of God and spirituality that I believe in.

5 - This has one of the more significant impacts. It means that I pretty much equate the spiritual with the subjective side of existence, and the physical with the objective aspect of reality. I think this actually fits very well with many things. First of all, it makes the diversity of belief about spiritual things quite natural and expected. Second, it means that I am predisposed to reject the possibility of proof or evidence for anything spiritual. Third, while the objective aspect of reality can be expected to care nothing for our beliefs and desires, the subjective and thus the spiritual would be quite different. Indeed, I think if there are anything like natural laws for the spiritual they would be tied to the logical conclusions we can make about our desires – for example, the fulfillment of some desires may have a greater ability to make our existence worthwhile than is the case for other desires.

4 - This ties with my frequently pointing out the limitations of logic as depending entirely upon the premises we start with. I will thus grant the importance of logical coherence only as a requirement for meaningfulness but see logic as utterly incapable of generating any kind of singularity of truth. Furthermore, while I believe that the meaningful things we can say about God is restricted to the limitations of logical coherence, I will sometimes suggest that our understanding of logic may be somewhat incomplete. We can easily point to quantum physics as suggesting that we don’t quite have the whole picture with regards to logic. But this does not mean we can abandon the logic we do understand without descending into meaningless noise.

3 - This means that I would pretty much limit all spiritual effects upon physical reality to quantum indeterminacy. This brings me to several conclusion. First is that this is a very narrow window through which the spiritual can act on the physical and thus the relationship between physical and spiritual is mostly epi-phenomenal in the sense that most of the causality is one way from the physical to the spiritual. Second it means that all such effects can logically be dismissed as random and coincidental by the skeptic.

2 - My philosophical roots in existentialism means that I place a very high importance upon the freedom of the human will. And this leads to a number of other conclusions. First it explains why I am a libertarian incompatibilist and open theist. Second, there is the impact on my understanding of the human spirit as a creation of our choices in life. In fact, you could say that this is strongly connected to the existentialist maxim that existence precedes essence. But this also strongly confirmed by other Christian beliefs that our choices and resultant behavior has a significant impact on what happens to us after death – not as a matter of judgement but as a result of logical consequences. Third, it ties to why I believe God created the universe, because only a system of natural laws would give us a basis for existence and action with some freedom of will.

1 - This means that I strongly associate the mathematical structure, quantitative and measurable things with the physical aspect of reality and thus see the spiritual as being quite contrary to this – non-mathematical, non-quantitative, and certainly not measurable. So, in fact, this is typically how I explain the difference between the physical and spiritual forms of the same monistic pre-energy stuff: the physical forms are a part of this measurable space-time mathematical structure and the spiritual forms are not.


(Mark D.) #4

As do I. I think what has made God belief so compelling and widespread for so long is something inside us, and I assume it would fit nicely within the complexity of consciousness. And why shouldn’t that which gives rise to what I take to be who I am not also give rise to what is perceived as God? Works for me.

Left to our own rational capacities, all we can do is move the pieces around. Insight is a gift which is presented to us, not something we arrive at by moving the pieces around. I identify the rational capacity as residing within my conscious self. But the intuitive mind is not under our conscious dominion. Consciously we have only the power to refuse it but it is not our creation.

My favorite video, McGilchrist’s The Divided Mind, ends with a quote attributed to Einstein. As best I can recall now it says the rational mind is a faithful servant while the intuitive mind is a sacred gift but in our modern world we have elevated the servant and ignore the gift. But check it out for yourself. (The Einstein quote begins at 11:06.)

This one is beyond my pay grade.

This is why I cannot identify as a Christian. I do not think what has given rise to God belief had any role in physical creation even though it has everything to do with anchoring a meaningful life. There is a very real sense in which what that is may be said to have created our sense of who we are as well as the world as we conceptualize it. But I see that as entirely separate from the physical world.

Okay, but again beyond my pay grade. But the separation of the physical and spiritual I take as supporting my contention that God had nothing to do with the creation of the physical world. What has been perceived of as God may have created the world as we know it and in some sense what we are in our conscious minds, but not the universe itself. I think that is the kind of overreach that led our kind to perceive the universe as revolving around our planet in an earlier time.


(Mark D.) #5

Boy if any kindly mod/admin can make those first couple of quotes work (Mitchell’s points 5, 4 sonf 2) I would be grateful. It seems to be beyond me for now.


(Laura) #6

No problem! I’ve found that there needs to be a paragraph break between the text and the closing [/quote] tag. :slight_smile:


(Mark D.) #7

Caught me a fish AND set me up for the next catch. Nice. Thank you much!


(RiderOnTheClouds) #9

I agree with Immanuel Kant that ethics needs to be focused on duty, not on incentives, otherwise we will slip into committing the naturalistic fallacy. This then raises the question as to how we know what our duty is, which I think the three Abrahamic faiths answer. I reject Judaism because I think Jesus was the Messiah, I reject Islam because I think the messiah really was crucified.


(system) #10

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