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Sunday, January 10, 2021

Disproving God - Not So Easy

Disproving God - Not So Easy
 © 2011 by Tom King

(Sorry this runs long - it's a long philosophical muse, written on a soft Sabbath afternoon.)

Someone recently told me with perfect certainty that God and all religion can be easily disproved.

Simply because you have not seen it, does not mean it does not exist. 

You can say you are reasonably certain the thing does not exist, but I'm pretty sure an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient trans-dimensional being might just be able to avoid appearing on your radar without a lot of trouble if it suited Him.

Easily disproved?


And how is it you can disprove the existence of a thing anyway?

Not having seen it yourself will not do. I have never seen an atom, but I'm fair certain they exist.  In "proving" the existence of black holes, for instance, you can only do so by observing what is happening around them to infer their existence. Physicists infer the existence of dark energy because something must be pushing the universe apart at ever increasing speed because otherwise it would be slowing down all the time due to gravity.

Physicists first postulated dark energy based things they observed in the heavens. Then, they sought to find mathematical proofs of their theory about dark energy, thereby building a case for its existence. In the same way no one can prove the existence of a multi-dimensional, powerful being, save by observation of the world around us and the ways in which God (or whatever you wish to call him) impacts that world.

Plenty of eye-witness testimony, some of it contemporary, claims to have witnessed or experienced acts of God. I have a couple of my own experiences that are not readily explainable by either physics or psychology. Does this mean that all who experience such events are liars because their conclusions about whether or not God exists differ from yours. I would hope, given most of you believe strongly in science, that you would wait for empirical evidence before drawing a conclusion.

Carl Sagan argued, that if God existed, he would surely provide unmistakable proof of His existence.

This might not be so, if God were deliberately limiting man's access to such absolute proof for a reason – some purpose he had for insuring that the evidence of His existence remained deliberately thin on the ground.

If this were true, you would only find hints of his existence in unexplainable phenomenon like dark energy, the properties of water, the exactitude of Earth's orbit, the presence of its moon to insure stability and perfect size and composition to promote life. As Freeman Dyson once said, “ looks as though the universe knew we were coming.”

Given that even the scientific community remains divided over whether God or some vast intelligence exists, it seems to me a truly open-minded person would wait for the theory to be tested. Christianity is just such a testing procedure for the theory that God does exist and cares for us personally. I came to Christianity making a deal with God. "Prove to me you exist. I'll follow the program You've laid out to the best of my ability and you show me that You exist.”

I have tested the hypothesis that God exists to the point that I am convinced that He does.

Unless you have thoroughly tested the hypothesis for yourself, you cannot say one way or another whether my own experiment is valid or not. The fact that Christians squabble among themselves over points of doctrine or church practices means nothing. Scientists do the same thing over points of scientific doctrine. The proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating.

My experience has been that God patiently changes a person as a result of that person's on-going relationship with Him. I find that I am free of things that once held me down. I find that I do what I want more than what I was once compelled to do by my nature or upbringing.

Do people abuse power as Christian leaders? Absolutely.

Do scientists abuse their power? For sure!

Do politicians? Ya, you betcha.

The great controversy in this world is not God vs. Not God. It is between those who serve themselves and those who serve others. If God wished to create an immortal race of individuals with complete free will; a people that God could be sure wouldn't mess things up again, who would do what is right, because it is right and not just when it suits their selfish purpose and, if, at the same time He could preserve the creativity, the energy and the vast potential of creatures with free will, how would He do that?

My theory is that God would plant those creatures alone on a planet, allow them to work out both sides of the argument - the mercenary vs the philanthropic approach to life and see what happens.

Then at the end of it all, save the essence of who they are, grant them immortal bodies and turn them loose in the galaxy to live, love and create. The only creature capable of such a thing would be one who exists beyond mere three dimensions, one who can see today, tomorrow and yesterday all at the same time, one to whom time and space are endless, who can work out ever detail so that in the end, the great goal is achieved -- a free people who, by their very nature, will never perpetrate evil upon each other or anyone else.

The idea makes sense, I'm not the only one who ever believed such an idea. Millions of Christians believe something along those lines. I can't think of any other way to make people with free will that won't wreck the universe. The Earth, I firmly believe, is a crucible in which free people are made. Everyone has a choice. Live for yourself and do what you want and you get this life and then die and disappear (Eccl. 9:5). The other choice means you accept the discipline and educational program God offers and you get eternal life and total freedom given back to you for completing the coursework.

I'm betting the second pathway is correct. Whichever way is correct, it shouldn't matter to anyone else. It is my choice and affects those who choose their own way not in the least. You may do as you wish, live as you want. The only thing I'll fight you on is if you try to limit my right to live as I choose.

It's a philosophical difference. It is not something you can play philosophical "Tag You're It" over. You believe one way or the other and it's hardly likely you'll ever agree. It comes down to majority rules in the end.

If religion is a fraud, it may perhaps one day be crushed by the preponderance of evidence. Or, Jesus may come back and settle the matter. As in science, the wisest thing to do is to wait for enough studies to come in before you plant your flag on one side or the other.

Tom King - Tyler, TX


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

One Man's Journey - Grandpa My Guide

My Grandpa Thomas Adolph King - My Hero

With my own father, I could never connect with his journey.
He mostly journeyed away from his own father's legacy and from his home town, which for a headstrong over-active male in the late 40s was anywhere but his one-church college town and the faith of his father. He was more influenced by his mother and his mother's people who were more like him. Impulsive, stubborn, prideful Scots-Indians. His father (my grandfather) was a quiet hard-working studious man who deferred to my strong-willed grandmother in almost all things. We grandkids loved him, but looked to my grandmother for any decisions about family matters. She was the axis about which we all rotated. She was for my dad too. He looked to the rowdy, disruptive McClure clan for his example rather than to his strong, quiet father, the culmination of a line of schoolteachers, preachers and farmers for his guides.  He later came to respect my grandfather, but by then he'd been to prison, fought a lifetime addiction to tobacco and alcohol (all things his own dad's family heartily disapproved of). In Grandpa's family 3 of the 4 siblings left their father's faith and went a-roving in the manner of my grandmother's clan, although the girls especially were always respectful and loving with their quiet, patient father. But it was my powerful grandmother who, in spite of her tacit acceptance of her adopted faith, remained independent of the King family culture and very much bound to the culture in which she'd grown up. This was despite her old wounds at how she was treated by her own clan.

My grandfather was my mentor. My Dad abandoned my Mom and his 3 kids when I was five. My grandfather, however, never wavered in his love for us. We remained close to Grandpa and by association, to my stern Scots grandmother.  My father went his own way, pursuing his own goals and dreams and left us largely to the care of others. I forgave him as I got older, though my grandmother could never figure out what Dad had done to forgive him for. Mom remarried and I never really bonded with my step father though I learned to appreciate him. He was from somewhere else and on some other journey that did not include me. With my 4 half siblings by him, and my Dad's two kids and step daughter by the women he got pregnant and ran off with, there were 10 of us total, divided between two widely separated houses. At the age of 52, Dad had a heart attack (he was a 4 pack a day smoker), fell off the wagon (AA for 15 years), and my step-mother ambushed him when he came home from work drunk. She shot him through the chest with his own shotgun. Dad's journey ended on the floor of his living room while my step-mom waited for him to die before calling 911.

I felt sorry for him. I wrote a poem for his funeral in which I said, "He was a fisherman, in a world unkind to fishermen some times." I'm not sure why I wrote that, but it seemed right to me somehow. His legacy was never mine. Unlike Abram's father, mine did not settle. He went off on his own way. Neither father that I had really shared a legacy journey that I needed to complete. I chose my own father figures, my grandpa first of all - paternal grandpa.  My maternal grandpa left my mother and grandmother when she was young to run off with a younger model and left behind an abandoned family that to my maternal grandmother remained true to our faith and scattered like missionaries from Texas to California. He lived his own life, much like my Dad did, aloof and distant from his kids. Visiting my grandfather was like a visit to a foreign country. I recognized few of the characteristics of home and the family I loved and grew up with.

I read books and chose male mentors to model how to be a man and a father.  King Arthur, Robin Hood, Captain Blood, Captain Horatio Hornblower and others. They all shared one thing. They were men on a mission. They fought with stubborn honor and integrity for what they believed was right. They were leaders and wise ones and that's what I attempted to be. My Uncle Bobby, a church leader was an influence. He stood for what was right, even when he had to oppose powerful church leaders he believed were doing wrong to the churches that were his job to care for and defend. 

As a result, I've gone down with more than one ship in my time. I don't regret a single one. I worked with abused, mentally ill and neglected children, people with disabilities, seniors, low income families, youth groups - basically anyone that seemed to need a defender.  I am deeply grateful to all of the people and organizations that have stepped up to aid me in my fight over the years. I especially am grateful to all of you, to Fred and to Dawn and the others who have helped me do what I was able to do until I couldn't do it anymore. From you guys I learned much. With your help, I was able to do some real good for real people.

I'm still teaching (night ESL classes with Chinese kids). I'm physically disabled with crippling arthritis from abusing my muscles and bones over the years. I always felt I was on a mission from God. Some of that may have come from having missed receiving any kind of legacy journey or direction from my father and from who I chose as my role models. From my Grandpa King, I got patience and devotion to my own family. From King Arthur I received a willingness to use might for right even though you may only get that "one brief shining moment" out of the struggle before it all collapses around you. From Robin Hood, I learned that just because someone has power, they aren't necessarily worthy of your obedience. You can do what is right in spite of them. I once got an angry letter from a very important person over one of my crusades. I've always been rather proud of that. Captain Blood, went to war on his own hook, because he refused to be slave to a tyrant. Captain Hornblower appealed to me because he was a smart leader who made the system work despite it's fundamental flaws and who was, in the heat of battle, cool-headed and courageous. In the eleven Hornblower books, CS Forester, the author, traced the growth and career of Horatio Hornblower from midshipman to admiral.

Keep up the good work. Folk like all of you play an essential role in keeping all those knights in dull and dented armor going out there on the front lines in the war on apathy, indifference, poverty, ignorance, and self-righteousness. God bless you for that.

© 2020 by Tom King