Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Why is Your God Real?

This idea was rolling around in my head for a little while now and I finally decided to put it to paper, digital paper I guess. There have been a great many gods and goddesses, deities existed in almost every ancient culture and there are still many deities who are believed in today. Most gods that man has believed in are no longer believed in. The Greek Gods are the easiest example I can give of a pantheon that simply isn't believed in anymore. Oh I suppose if you looked hard enough you could find a handful of crazy people still clinging to their beliefs in Athena, and maybe even a few who pretend to believe for tradition sake but the vast majority of people understand that the Greek gods simply aren't real. So my question is, what makes your God real? What makes Yahweh anymore real than Zeus? What makes Allah more real than Odin?

I understand that the phrase "more real" probably doesn't make a lot of sense but you get the idea I hope. Why is it that Jesus is seen as being real while so many other gods are tossed right out as being absurd or silly?

Yahweh Versus Zeus

Which one of these gods do you think is more likely to exist? If you answered Yahweh I would have to tell you that you're wrong, in my opinion of course. Think about it for a moment, Zeus isn't all powerful, he isn't the God who created the entire Universe and he doesn't necessarily love everyone on Earth. He's sometimes a total douche, he comes down to Earth to seduce mortal women and he throws lightning around. Zeus isn't the perfect all knowing creator of the Universe as Yahweh is believed to be. In my mind this makes Zeus far more plausible. After all Zeus is just an ultra-powerful human being, essentially anyway, he makes lightning and is in charge of things on Mount Olympus. The Christian God on the other hand is blown all out of proportion, being essentially infinite in power, love and everything else. Yahweh is limitless, Zeus is limited, so really who is more likely to exist?

Now obviously I don't believe that Yahweh or Zeus actually exist, at least I've never encountered any compelling evidence for either of them. So the question is what makes Yahweh real and Zeus fictional? Is it the fact that the Greek religion was co-opted by the Romans who then adopted Christianity as their empire collapsed? Obviously people drifted out of belief in Zeus and into belief in the Christian God but it seems clear that whether either deity actually existed had little bearing on the shifting beliefs. They used to spread Christ at the point of a sword with conquering armies bringing Jesus to indigenous peoples by force. If native peoples in Europe hadn't been forced into conversion would the gods of these ancient peoples have survived? Would we all be praying to Odin and avoiding the mischievous Loki? Would it be Thor's wrath that caused Hurricane Katrina instead of Yahweh's?

The Lack of Evidence

I could sit here and compare gods and goddesses all day and break down their characteristics or I could get right to the point. There's no evidence for any of these deities and many of the same arguments theists use today to prove their god have been in use for centuries or even longer. So why is it that we feel so comfortable calling Zeus imaginary but the moment someone calls Yahweh imaginary people get up in arms about it? Simply because Yahweh and Allah are the mainstream delusions of the day doesn't mean we shouldn't be able to come right out and say it. I understand the desire to be as agnostic as possible and to veer away from the arrogance that sometimes comes with Strong-Atheist territory but if these modern Gods are as indistinguishable from the imaginary as Zeus why shouldn't we say so? Of course they MIGHT exist, the possibility, however remote, is still there.

This is why I propose the invention of a new term, Approximately Imaginary, the term refers to things like fairies, mermaids, Bigfoot, ghosts, greys, goblins and gods and all manner of things that are indistinguishable from the imaginary. This way we can still be sort of sensitive to the fragile feelings of the theists while still explaining that as far as we know, and to a good degree of certainty, these things simply do not exist. We must leave room for doubt of course as there is always a possibility that one of these things exists but as far as we know they are imaginary, thus they are approximately imaginary. They are imaginary to the best of our knowledge and human knowledge as a whole.

The Question Remains

So to the theists the question remains. What is it that sets your god or gods apart from the ancient gods who have all gone into obscurity and are firmly considered mythical. Do you not see the hypocrisy in claiming your God is real while denouncing and attacking other Gods as false ones who do not exist? You have no evidence that your own God is more valid than the Hindu gods or the Norse gods or the Aztec gods.

The phrase has been oft repeated that theists are atheists to all gods but their own and my question is, WHY? There are gods that we all agree are approximately imaginary - which God isn't imaginary? Please understand that I don't mean we should simply label all gods imaginary but if a god doesn't have evidence supporting its existence than what else can we truly call it and why should we believe in it? Theists - What makes your God real and all the others fakes?