The vanishing god 18

His only existence was in the superstitions of human beings.

Now even that dim identity is fading away.

We have watched the religious retreating until their backs are to the wall.

Once firm beliefs – in the name of which believers would put disbelievers to torture and death – have quietly been abandoned within the stretch of living memory.

It’s not long since Christians believed in a physical Heaven and Hell. After all, a bodily resurrected Jesus Christ has to have a physical dwelling place. The Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ was physically hauled up into  Heaven – the hauling job by angels is called her Assumption – so there had to be some solid ground to put her on once they got her up there. And if sinners were to suffer in hell, they needed nerves and a brain to suffer pain from being burnt with actual fire.

What theologians speak of that now – or of the Trinity? Only simpletons do. Many among the laity do go on believing in an old bearded man named God, somewhere in the sky, dressed in a kind of nightshirt, with his son, a pretty young man – golden curly hair, blue eyes, also in nightwear – seated beside him on something-or-other, among billowing clouds in a rosy dawn. But that’s all for the commonalty in this twenty-first century since the chosen birthdate of the putative Savior Christ; not the great thinkers.

Science has done what it was bound to do: show up religious accounts of how the universe came into being, and how mankind arose, to be nonsense. Highly imaginative  nonsense. In some aspects, highly ingenious nonsense. But nonsense all the same.

Theological defense of the existence of “God” has steadily dwindled. It came all the way down to the dogma of “intelligent design”. And that’s also manifest nonsense. Whom does it deceive (not counting the gulls and simpletons)? Our universe is so obviously not designed. A design is for a purpose, and the propounders of the idea can point to no purpose. And where is the evidence of intelligence, when life forms fail, hideous deformities occur, animal survives by devouring animal …. the list of natural events that are easily explained by evolution but not by the idea of intelligent design could be very long.

Proponents of “intelligent design” at least had the sense to drop the notion that the supernatural Designer was benevolent. It must finally come home to even a dull mind that the Designer, or god, who made (for example) Ebola, is not a source of unqualified benefit to humankind.

The defense is worn down to the wire. The result is utter confusion.

The Catholic Church cannot allow the “intelligent designer” to take God’s place; cannot have God reduced to an architect who could shout “Hey presto!” at his drawing board and have his design spring into existence. Or don a robe decorated with moons and stars and meteors, and a tall pointed hat, and take a wand in his hand, and wave it about in some medium of ultra-space and so fill an infinite void with galaxies – and prepare Jesus Christ to be born from the womb of a virgin on the little planet Earth.

But how then can it cope with the challenge of science?

To see its best effort, witness this crap, this stew of anachronistic notions thrown into the pot with gobs of scientific truth. It shows how Roman Catholicism does not know what to say, and can only dither vague denials and assertions that add up to nothing – like these, gabbled just the other day by Pope Francis, head of that once powerful and terrible, tyrannical and cruel institution, the Catholic Church (a relic of the darkest centuries of human history):

Delivering an address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Pope Francis continued his habit of making provocative, seemingly progressive statements. The pontiff appeared to endorse the theory of the Big Bang and told the gathering at the Vatican that there was no contradiction between believing in God as well as the prevailing scientific theories regarding the expansion of our universe.

He said:

When we read about creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so. He created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach their fulfillment.

The pope avoids gesturing at the thorny issue (at least for some Christians) of whether humans descended from apes. Atheists argue, moreover, that understanding the Big Bang and what emerged from that cosmic moment obviates a need to believe in a deity. On that count, Francis obviously disagrees. He repeated the idea of God not being a “magician,” an entity that conjured all into being.

“God is not a divine being or a magician, but the Creator who brought everything to life,” Francis said. “Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”

In other words … God is more a clockmaker than a conjurer of miracles.

Could anything be less like a clock designed to work in a fixed unchanging manner for a particular purpose than this universe of ever-changing matter?*

Such thinking is not new for the Catholic Church, which for six decades — since the reforms of Pope Pius XII — has espoused belief in theistic evolution. That hinges, of course, on the fundamental acceptance of a higher power.

A 2006 article in the Vatican’s main newspaper also distanced the Catholic Church from the idea of “intelligent design,” which it said should not be taught in schools as science. …

What the church does insist upon is that the emergence of the human supposes a willful act of God, and that man cannot be seen as only the product of evolutionary processes, it said. The spiritual element of man is not something that could have developed from natural selection but required an “ontological leap”.

Francis’s more conservative predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, espoused this view and found the American debate between creationists and those who backed evolution “absurd’. He asked in 2007 why “those who believe in the Creator would not be able to conceive of evolution, and those who instead support evolution would have to exclude God”. And then went on:

This antithesis is absurd because, on the one hand, there are so many scientific proofs in favor of evolution which appears to be a reality we can see and which enriches our knowledge of life and being as such. But on the other, the doctrine of evolution does not answer every query, especially the great philosophical question: where does everything come from? And how did everything start which ultimately led to man? I believe this is of the utmost importance.

Skeptics and atheists, though, may agree with the importance of those questions. But they’re still looking for very different answers.

We sure are, bro!

The intellectually beleaguered theologians of the Catholic Church saw that some interpretation, some clarification of this garbage was needed. So they’ve come up with this, from the Catholic News Service, by John Thavis:

Intelligent design not science, says Vatican newspaper article

Intelligent design is not science and should not be taught as a scientific theory in schools alongside Darwinian evolution, an article in the Vatican newspaper said.

The article said that in pushing intelligent design some groups were improperly seeking miraculous explanations in a way that creates confusion between religious and scientific fields.

At the same time, scientists should recognize that evolutionary theory does not exclude an overall purpose in creation – a “superior design” that may be realized through secondary causes like natural selection, it said.

What overall purpose?

The article, published in the Jan. 17 edition of L’Osservatore Romano, was written by Fiorenzo Facchini, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Bologna in Italy.

The article noted that the debate over intelligent design – the idea that certain features of life and the universe are best explained by an intelligent designer rather than adaptive evolution – has spread from the United States to Europe.

The problem with intelligent design is that it turns to a “superior cause” – understood though not necessarily named as God – to explain supposed shortcomings of evolutionary science. But that’s not how science should work, the article said.

If the model proposed by Darwin is held to be inadequate, one should look for another model. But it is not correct methodology to stray from the field of science pretending to do science.

The article said a Pennsylvania judge had acted properly when he ruled in December that intelligent design could not be taught as science in schools. [The judge said:]

Intelligent design does not belong to science and there is no justification for the pretext that it be taught as a scientific theory alongside the Darwinian explanation.

From the church’s point of view, Catholic teaching says God created all things from nothing, but doesn’t say how, the article said. That leaves open the possibilities of evolutionary mechanisms like random mutation and natural selection.

God’s project of creation can be carried out through secondary causes in the natural course of events, without having to think of miraculous interventions that point in this or that direction.

What the church does insist upon is that the emergence of the human supposes a willful act of God, and that man cannot be seen as only the product of evolutionary processes .. The spiritual element of man is not something that could have developed from natural selection but required an “ontological leap’ … 

The article said that, unfortunately, what has helped fuel the intelligent design debate is a tendency among some Darwinian scientists to view evolution in absolute and ideological terms, as if everything — including first causes — can be attributed to chance.

Science as such, with its methods, can neither demonstrate nor exclude that a superior design has been carried out.

From a religious viewpoint, it said, there is no doubt that the human story “has a sense and a direction that is marked by a superior design”.

What direction? Going where? Why?

So if God may not be boiled down to an “intelligent designer”, then what is he? What is this new orthodoxy of the Catholic Church? He’s still “the creator of all things from nothing”. But he didn’t create things exactly as we know them at this passing moment. He launched evolution. By a special “willful” act he had humankind “emerge”. (Whether from earlier ape-like Hominoidea or not is left an open question.) Man’s unique “spiritual element” could not have developed through evolution. So it must have been put in him by God. Man’s spiritual element, it may be inferred, proves the existence of God.

God is a launcher of evolution, into which process he uniquely intervened to create humankind, to which he gave something new in the universe, a “spiritual element”.

This new Catholic God is not very different from the old Catholic God, but he seems to have shed his son and the Holy Ghost. At least neither the Professor of evolutionary biology nor the befuddled Pope says what’s happened to them.

So even the “intelligent designer” fades out. The old Creator is glimpsed as the launcher of a process through billions of years which finally did not result in the creation of humankind. That was a special new creation. For what purpose is still not said.

He is very frail, that being. Very thin, transparent, ghost-like. Going, going … almost gone.

 

* We do, however, accept Karl Popper’s splendidly explicated thesis that “all clouds are clocks and all clocks are clouds” in his lecture “Of Clouds and Clocks”. In his sense only, having nothing to do with theological “intelligent design”, organic things may be said to be clock-like. You can find the lecture here, or in the collection of Popper’s essays titled Objective Knowledge.

  • Frank
    • Thank you, Frank! Who is this marvelous writer?

      I’ve laughed so much, I can’t resist posting it soon.

    • liz

      I love it – from “creating the entire universe” to “appearing on toast”!

  • liz

    It’s funny. What it all seems to boil down to is that man has a “spiritual element” that can’t be explained except by the existence of a god.
    What a coincidence! We also have a “rational element” that makes us different from all other animals. In attempting to understand and explain to ourselves this rational element, we humans came up with “God”.
    As all ideas do, it had consequences. It was combined with the natural tendency that humans share with all animals to seek power and control, and resulted in religion.
    The question is, will even the attainment of full rationality by the entire human race ever conquer this tendency?

    • REALBEING

      When asked about “Spirit” they will usually state “I feel it whenever I pray, or think about the Lord, so I know that He is real!!”

      Think of this for a minute; we’re told in school to always use the process of reason to solve problems. IOW, don’t guess! Emotions are invaluable in everyday life. They have their place among our other senses and processes, but they must not run our lives.

      To rely on them ONLY for our truths is relying on an imposter.

      I once asked a believer if he used his reasonable side to subject his emotional beliefs to the test of authenticity, the test that successful adults use in their work.

      Then I asked him if he was so certain that his untested emotional bias was correct, would he make life-changing decisions strictly from them, as he has with his religious beliefs.

      Would he marry a girl strictly on looks and emotional ties, even though she was a murdering drug-smuggler?

      Would he take all of his money, go to Las Vegas and find the roulette wheel that he felt was the luckiest, place all of his money on the number that he felt was the luckiest, say red-23 and let it ride?

      I got the strangest look………

      • liz

        Right! It’s great that we have the capacity to be rational, but so underused. And misused. Without specific training in logic and critical thinking, it’s so easily neglected.
        It should be a mandatory subject of study for all students. But of course Christians don’t want to teach it because they’d lose believers, and leftists don’t want it for the same reason, even though they claim to be rational.
        So logic, along with the rest of the Greek classics of philosophy, politics, and law that so well informed our founding fathers, have been buried under piles of either religious or socialist indoctrination trash…..

        • REALBEING

          Religionists only use Reason when it suits their beliefs. And they ONLY use it up to the point where Reason starts to turn their “truths” into “fantasies.”

          Then, to save face, they relegate the facts which negate their beliefs as “mystical, God-Truth” which is unknown, and unknowable.

          Their bias will always be served to make their lives truthful and “complete.”

          • liz

            Yes. Reason serves their purpose, but only up to a point. They can even accuse leftists of irrationally following Marxism as a religion, yet fail to acknowledge that their own beliefs are even more irrational, and that following a religion is inherently irrational, period, otherwise there’d be no point in accusing leftists of it!

            • REALBEING

              My teacher once told me that anyone can turn anything into a religion…Its our duty to remain vigilant to prevent this from happening in our lives.

              As in the “Yin” and “Yang” philosophy, a person can only take a thing so far before it turns into it’s opposite.

              And there is a tiny ‘seed’ of it’s opposite placed in each side.
              IOW, you can only walk north so far. Then you start walking south.

            • Don L

              I have often thought of starting The Church of the Righteous Self: A belief in the individual. I just want to walk around dressed in a black suit with a priest-like collar so I can tell people there is no god…believe in your self!. And the looks on their faces would be precious to me. LOL.

            • liz

              LOL!

            • Don L

              Thank you Ma’am. Praise be to us…individually!

            • REALBEING

              For some reason your post reminds me of a true personal story told to me by a good friend who also happens to be an Atheist.

              He answered a knock on his door one day and there, standing in his doorway were two Jehovah Witnesses.

              They asked him if he could spare some time in order to hear the gospel of the Lord.

              He said, “Why yes…please come on in.” They proceeded to spend 30 or so minutes professing the gospel and also their love of God to my friend.

              When they were done, my friend brought out some writing paper and a pen. He then asked both of them for their names and addresses.

              One of the fellows stopped him and asked my friend why he wanted their names and addresses.

              He told the man “So that sometime in the near future I can come over to your houses and push my beliefs off on you!”

              They left……

            • Don L

              badaboom!

              I just usually ask them if they know why ‘their’ christ was believed to have walked on water. They inevitably shrug their shoulders, or otherwise indicate they don’t know, whereupon I let them know it is because s__t floats. They leave.

              Seinfeld treated telemarketers like your friend: can I have your phone # so I can call you during dinner. rimbam!

  • Kidyard Rupling

    Infallibility never looked so fallible.

  • REALBEING

    The Catholic Church, being mostly the leader among religions in America, has done it’s best to adapt real science into it’s beliefs, including the latest scientific findings and discoveries.

    Gradually, over hundreds of years, they’ve had to do this in order to not alienate their smarter patrons.

    If it’s leaders could just drop their dogmatic belief of “Spirit” they could join the rest of academia and enter the twenty-first century.

    But then……..they would just close down the churches and institute social clubs in their stead….

    ‘Bout time!

    • Don L

      “social clubs”

      This is still, with or without a god, a huge collectivist organization. Socialist clubs would not be a good thing. All they would have left is left.

      • REALBEING

        A social club may refer to a group of people or the place where
        they meet, generally formed around a common interest, occupation or activity (e.g. hunting, fishing, science, politics, or charity work).
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_club

        LOL! Of course, the common interest may be the study and cultivation of Saul Alinsky’s Rules For Radicals!!!