Tuesday, April 5, 2011

God of Gaps

This morning I went through my usual internet routine:
1.  Check e-mail 
2.  Peek at (with one wary eye) my checking account balance
3. Update my Facebook status (because if I don't the world will implode)
4. Check out the current weather forecast
5. Make myself current on leading local, national and international news
6. (Favorite part of my internet activities) read new posts from my favorite blogs

Number six is the crucial purpose for my blog post today because it is all about Pharyngula's account of the debate between Lawrence Krauss and William Lane Craig. Particularly of interest to me was number THREE of Krauss's refutal of Craig's five arguments, in which Craig asserts " . . . that the existence of absolute morality gives evidence for God." (As an aside, I must ask where evidence of this "absolute morality" exists, as I've seen no proof of it in the history of Humankind.)

Once again, Christians put the cart before the horse. They rely on the old, "what came first, the chicken or the egg" argument in an effort to find proof for God's presumed existence. Hence the title of this blog post, a most apropos term coined by Krauss himself. Where ever Christians find a vacuum in their assertions, theories, and philosophies regarding the existence of God, rather than using logic to recognize that the existence of the vacuum as proof that there are flaws in the afore mentioned arguments and assertions, they instead claim that this vacuum, this absence of empirical data, is proof that God does indeed exist.  So, in a nutshell, what cannot be observed or understood, measured, or qualified is God. 

And in a strange reversal of logic (perhaps the crux of my argument that Christians don't have any) Christians expect Atheists to prove the non-existence of God by use of empirical data. In other words, we are expected to observe, understand, measure and qualify the absence of the God of Gaps.

Throughout history people have used superstition to explain that which was not understood; however, as humans have begun to understand the scientific mechanisms of nature we have left those superstitions by the wayside. Otherwise, we'd still be burning "witches" at the stake. 

But I digress. 

The reason I find Craig's "Argument Number Three" of interest is due to his assertion that God is the bastion of "absolute morality". How can that be? I will not get into the circular arguments of:
1.  Humans are imperfect in their interpretation of God's will
2. God tests us 
3. God puts strife and sorrow and horrors in our path to teach us Important Moral Lessons
4. Etc., ad nauseam [insert circular argument of your choice here]
Instead I will point out a flaw in the argument that God has morals and point out how the Christian belief of God as Moral Compass is another example of Cart-Before-Horse Syndrome.

My argument is grounded in the theory of morality as a product of the evolution of empathy. To understand the nature-and-nurture process of empathy, please watch this cute little video:

One Human Race

According to the New Testament (or at least according to those who claim the New Testament as proof) God is the God of Compassion, Kindness and Love. Yet, how can that be when there is no other like Him? All powerful (omnipotent), all knowing (omniscient), ever-present (omnipresent) (but especially in the gaps). In other words, not-human. The core value of morality is empathy. Empathy is derived from a connectivity between human beings individually, or as an ethnicity, as a gender, as a nation, as a species, etc.. Despite our vast array of differences and all that makes us individually us, we have identifiers that help us to connect and feel compassion for those with whom we relate. 

So how does God relate to us in any way? Because he is our Father? God doesn't have a father, so how would He connect with that assertion? Because we are His creation? That's a treacherous slope to slide on, for even children create things (such as sand castles) and then destroy them, simply because it is amusing. Children feel no connection or bond to sand castles; it's simply something to do rather than be bored. 

If we are "other" in God's eyes then we are alien to Him (and vice versa!). As human beings we tend to reject that which we do not understand, we reject strangers (those whom we classify as "other"). It is human instinct. It's a safety measure. So even if God created us in His image it doesn't mean a damned thing because we are still different in all the important ways: we are not omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent. We and God are strangers to each other.

Due to His aspect as the Ultimate Cosmic Power, it is in our hands (and in our desire) to connect with Him, not vice versa. That connection offers us comfort because it makes us feel safe in the hands of what could possibly (and probably) be an all-powerful tyrant. After all, why should He be bothered? Creating the myth of Jesus gives humans the ability to feel that connection. It protects us from having to consider the mind-boggling aspect of an U.C.P., cold, distant, different, and unconnected, indifferent to human feeling. Which proves to me that humans created God in Their image, not the other way around. And human beings, flawed as we are, have no concept of "absolute morality" because morality is that which we prescribe depending on with whom we connect.


  1. As a recovering fundamentalist Christian I find this debate really interesting. I would wager that your average Christian would argue that since morals stem from God, he created emotions like compassion and empathy. The concept of imago dei is important here. According to Genesis, we're created in the image of God. Therefore, we can assume that the traits we possess reflect traits that God also possesses. That's how he relates to us, presumably. And that's how I would answer if I'd seen this post a couple years ago.

  2. Ah, but then there's this passage: “Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.' ” Gen. 1:26

    Who/what is a god who refers to him/it/her/theirself as "Our?"

    Then comes this: "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."

    If God created Man AND woman in His image . . . what the heck does God look like- a hermaphrodite? And if THAT is so . . . then why don't we ALL look like hermaphrodites?

    But now I'm splitting hairs. The point is that God is mysterious because that's his function: to give comfort to humans who have qualms over that which they do not understand. But by creating this all-mighty being we HAD to create Jesus to soothe us from thoughts that the U.C.P. might decide he's bored with us and wipe us out like a kid with a magnifying glass over an ant hill.

    Also: every type of religious group (and even groups that do not claim a religion and/or reject religion) claims an ethical/moral code. God does not hold a monopoly on morals. This includes religions that pre-date Christianity. And we should never forget that large portions of Christianity have been copied from various other religions that existed pre-Christianity.

  3. Looking at the way our country has been detereorating in recent months I find myself wondering why anyone would assert that "the traits we possess reflect traits that God also possesses". That doesn't sound very comforting to me.