Saturday, August 12, 2006

Does God exist?

An argument, put forward by those who hold creationist beliefs, goes like this. If, some aliens were to visit Mount Rushmore and see the colossal sculptures of the US Presidents carved out on the mountains, common sense would tell them that it was created by design and did not evolve from sand and rock spontaneously or through random mutation. An extension of this logic reveals to us that the entire earth, the flora and the fauna therein and the intelligent human species were surely created by a Supreme Being as part of a grand design.

Evolutionists debunk this theory as nonsense. They believe that natural forces, without any intervention or machinations of a Master Designer, aligned themselves in such a way as to trigger the process of creation and the evolution thereafter.

This ‘evolutionists vs. creationists’ debate has been raging on for several centuries. Consider this old example discussed in a book called “Philosophy Gym” by Stephen Law:

Believer: God is the greatest being.
Non-believer: Who said that?
Believer: The Bible says so
Non-believer: Who wrote the Bible?
Believer: God.

What Microsoft Excel would have pointed out as “circular reference”. But, the believer clings to his position, while the non-believer remains skeptical.

Julian Baggini, who writes regularly for The Guardian, discusses in his latest book, the gambler’s logic propounded by Blaise Pascal, the mathematician-turned-philosopher. Based on Pascal's theological work titled “Pensees” written in 1670, Baggini analyses the various scenarios on a Joharis window as follows:

1) If Goes doesn’t actually exist, and you believe in him
2) If God doesn’t actually exist, and you don’t believe in him
3) If God exists and you believe in him.
4) If God exists and you don’t believe in him.

In Scenario 1, there is no upside; the minor downside is that that you need to invest time and effort when you are on earth, in going to church, in prayers, etc

In Scenario 2, there is no upside; there is no downside either

In Scenario 3, the upside is that, upon dying, heavenly bliss is yours for eternity; the minor downside, as in Scenario 1, is that you need to invest time and effort in going to church, in prayers, etc

In Scenario 4, there is no upside; but there is a terrible downside- eternal damnation in Hell awaits you

So, if you gamble that God doesn’t exist, the best is a short, carefree, life on earth, but the worst is eternal damnation. If you gamble that God exists, the worst is a short, devout life on earth, but the best is eternal heavenly bliss.

So, if you need to gamble, you are much better off believing that God exists.

But, as Woody Allen said, “If only God would provide clear evidence of his existence, for example, by depositing a few million dollars in my Swiss account…..”


B o o said...

What if I believe in him but dont invest time or effort in prayers, temples,...? Worse lot, huh?!
Great post BTW!

gawker said...

actually there's another possibility: that god exists but he doesn't give a rat's ass about us and all his so-called words are fiction concocted by humans.

Raj said...

Dear Boo : Better start praying. God.

Gawker : Or perhaps, he doesn't exist, but there is a hell .......