30th November 2010
Is there a God?
This is a question about which I've been curious but not sufficiently anxious to find a firm answer – given the huge amount of work involved and the low probability that mankind will ever be able to say something sensible on this matter that everyone can agree with. So I've kept this question open – whether there s a God or not, whether there is one God or many, whether there is a 'devil' or 'rakshsa', or even whether we are all part of 'God' (advaita). This question is, to me, work in progress. I politely listen to everyone, then move on, unconvinced. It is very hard, in my view, to scientifically prove or disprove the existence of God.
However, on matters on which evidence is clear – the harm that organised religion has caused – I do have a firm view. I firmly oppose organised religion. See my 1982 article in the Caravan magazine – a view that I've continued to hold. To me there are evidence-based costs and benefits of the God belief, and that's what really matters. And all roads lead to tolerance and religious freedom, a prototype classical liberal view.
Yesterday I accidentally chanced upon Victor Stenger's book : "God, the Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows that God Does Not Exist", and am currently browsing through it. From what little I've read let me say I'm thoroughly impressed with it, and will purchase one for my personal library. In particular, certain scientific facts that have not been as clear to me as they should have now become clear. It is always good to find a good book that teaches new things.
Have a read of the book yourself and tell me what you think.
Here's a presentation (here or here) in which Stenger summarises his book. And here's a short article by Stenger on this topic. Below, is a Youtube video where Stenger debates with a God believer: Stenger also has a number of other Youtube videos.
Before you get swept away, here are some contrarian views (and I'm sure many others)