Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Is God beautiful or ugly?

Statements like "god exists / does not exist" and statements about "truth and falsity" probably don't really belong in the same language game. We could call putting these together a "category mistake". In the same way statements about how to swing your tennis racket don't belong in discussions about football.

There is value in an understanding and appreciating of the interior realms just as there is in the exterior realms. Knowledge of the exterior realms gives you power with respect to building bridges and buildings and iPads and nuclear reactors and living longer and etc. Knowledge of the interior realms gives you power with respect to human solidarity, love, beauty, being reconciled and consoled in the face of the sadness and suffering that we have to live with until humanity gets to the point where pain and suffering has been effectively eliminated... and so on.

I suspect that telling people that their "belief in god" is superstitious nonsense tends not to go down so well with people who consider that they do believe in god. If instead, you say to those people: "I appreciate what you call your belief in god, in the same way that I appreciate picasso", you do at least have a place to start having a conversation.

If people could start thinking of their religion as a kind of cultural performance art, instead of as a bogus alternative science, we could hope that some of the confusions might just go away. It would allow people who enjoy such practices to go on enjoying them, without needing to justify doing so to the extent that they feel they need to apply to the courts to prevent school children being taught about Darwin.

Some people like to play tennis, others like to play football. If you happen to like tennis, it is slightly bizarre to find football repulsive - boring, uninteresting yes, but repulsive? ... that seems strange to me.

I completely understand people saying something like "worshipping God... nah that's not the game for me", but the animosity to someone else's hobby when it is not causing any trouble just does not compute.

Of course if someone wants to play a game called "crashing planes into high buildings" or "disrupting the educational curriculum" that is a completely different matter.

Educated people should choose their battles carefully. Otherwise you simply end up recruiting for the other side.

There are a category of statements such as "God exists" which simply don't belong in the same vocabulary as statements like "prove or disprove".

What would or could ever count as a proof? Are we expecting God to turn up for an interview on the Tonight Show?

Such statements as "God exists" should not be judged on the basis of whether they are true or false, but on the basis of whether they are beautiful or ugly. It might be that you think they are ugly, but it is the wrong question to ask whether they are true.

I'm not expecting anyone to think that what I am saying about "belief in God" is true, but I am hoping someone might think what I am saying is beautiful or useful.

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