I'm going to respond to Randy and Bernardo's discussion about God in two parts. First, in this post I'm going to largely agree with Bernardo despite coming to the opposite conclusion. In the next post I'll veer off on a tangent and ponder whether or not there is an "intelligence threshold".
So Randy and Bernardo are discussing whether or not it makes sense to believe in God, and Randy argues that there are a lot of things in the world with no other reasonable explanation. Bernardo points out that science has come up with explanations for lots of things that used to be mysterious but aren't anymore. Fine and good; I don't see much point in listing things that are hard to explain, because I think everyone will grant that there are a myriad. Bernardo's position can be summarized by one of his final paragraphs in a long series of comments:
I work pretty hard to understand where my beliefs and preferences come from, what depends on what, rather than taking the whole thing as "true" or "the only reasonable way of looking at it". It's kinda like geometry: I want to try to see how my beliefs are the result of some "axioms", and this allows me to see that if someone starts out with different axioms, they end up with different beliefs by similarly reasonable thinking. We can then compare the validity of the axioms we started out with, if you insist, but that gets real tricky, and in the end it does seem to me that those axioms are fairly arbitrary and a result of personal preference. Either you want to live in a world that has a God or you don't, and depending on that choice, you build a world-view that interprets your observations in one way or the other.
Basically I agree, and I've written a lot about the importance of faith to Christians, atheists, and everyone else. Here are a few of the posts:
- What is "real faith"?
- Can it be proven that God exists?
- Comments on essays by the inestimable Steven Den Beste (an atheist) who explains why atheism requires faith and more.
So, to summarize my position as I've done many times in the past, coming to God requires faith, and faith is antithetical to proof. Belief that is compelled by force of reason or argument is not faith. Reason and argument can certainly lead an atheist towards faith, but like a horse to water, mere persuasion cannot make him drink.
(As a side note, I find it ironic that atheism ends up losing, even under its own rules. Show me a thriving society full of atheists: there are none. Show me a just, moral, happy, peaceful civilization built on atheism: again, there are none. Show me a country dominated by secularism that even has replacement rate fertility: none. Atheism, right or wrong, is doomed to obscurity by cultural natural selection. What advantage does the atheist have, even if they are right, other than a smug sense of self-satisfaction?)