The existence of gods

The top topic in all discussions with atheists and even with monotheists is usually that of the existence of what’s being worshipped, with the answer shaping one’s stand on religion in general. Unbelievers will claim that the existence of gods has not been proven and they’re no less fiction than Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy or a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Believers will argue in favor of the existence of one or more divine beings by means of an authoritative reference (what’s written in X is true), philosophical arguments of various sorts or simple personal experience; they may even state that it’s atheists who have to disprove the supernatural or that a god is somehow outside the scope of scientific means.

As a theist, I do not claim my beliefs to be scientifically reasonable, rational, an equal to science or a form of objective knowledge. Rather I consider them to be subjective, personal and emotional; they’re compatible with scientific explanation only in the sense that both may co-exist on different grounds with limited crossing points. Sociology, Anthropology and History may have interest in religion as an object of study, and while science may explain things, it doesn’t prevent an emotional experience of reality from existing side-by-side with a rational explanation.

For instance, science suggests that chemical processes are on the background of every emotion. Every time I laugh, cry, hate, love, am happy or sad, there’s something at work in my organism and yet, if I was asked if I love someone, I would not present a blood or brain analysis as a reply. I would answer with an emotional gesture to a question on an emotional topic: a poem, a song, dinner by candle light, a homemade gift, a kiss at sunset. And I’d do these things knowing that there are chemical elements behind my feelings (hormones included).

I see religion in a very similar way. It’s not science, but an emotional way of living and seeing reality; it doesn’t have to be in direct competition with scientific knowledge, just like me being aware of the processes behind my feelings doesn’t prevent me from thinking and living them emotionally. Rational explanation doesn’t prevent passionate experience, and atheists seem to assume otherwise. I know the solstices are caused by the Earth’s axial tilt, but how does that prevent me from celebrating midwinter as the (re)birth of the sun? I know thunder is caused by changes in air pressure and temperature, but why should that stop me from seeing in a flashing sky a heavenly forge, a hammer or a god wielding a bolt? There is a rational filter that integrates scientific knowledge, yes, helping me to structure my beliefs and, for instance, consider Vulcanus to be the God of Earthquakes and not Neptune. But that’s a matter of organization, not of (dis)proving beliefs.

It is of course true that this sort of emotional experiencing can’t be left unchecked. It must be curbed the same way a romance has to in order to avoid exacerbated passions that lead to violence on yourself and others. And there are several ways of doing it: keeping a rational perspective in parallel, opening your beliefs to critical thinking and subjecting them to satire and humour, which are things that have the ability to keep ideas grounded and away from dogmatic pretensions. After all, laughter is all about ridicule and that can only happen if the object of one’s laughs is not untouchable (which is why dogmatic religions are so afraid of it).

I don’t have any objective evidences of the Gods’ existence to present, but then again I don’t believe it to be necessary. Once I decided that reason and emotion should have their own grounds, I gave myself the freedom to believe and stopped caring if flying anthropomorphic gods, beings who can take on animals forms or entities residing in rocks and trees are less rational than a “universal force”. And it’s liberating, to be honest, once you have checks-and-balances working. It may not be easy to reach that stage, as faith is something you either have or you don’t and there’s a click, a leap to be made at one point that slams the doors wide open. It’s a personal and subjective thing, not rational or scientific.

Not that atheists don’t have emotional experiences, too. It’s just that some people translate them into a religious context and see them through those lens, just as some would write poetry on the seasons or sing about human death to voice an emotional living of those rationally explainable moments

4 thoughts on “The existence of gods

  1. Holy Vanatru you’re a great writer (and thinker)!

    Even though I only agree with 97.4% of what I’ve read on this blog, you make succinct, compelling and entertaining arguments the likes of which are extremely rare. I especially like this entry. Have you written any books?

    Please keep writing.

    By the way, I’m not really a Goshawk. I don’t have nearly enough feathers…YET!

    • Well, I don’t expect people to agree 100% with that I write, so thanks, Goshawk :p

      No, I never wrote a book or contributed to one, though I am considering doing so for an upcoming volume on dog-friendly and dog gods to be published by Neos Alexandria. It’s just a matter of finding a precise subject for the text and make it a good one: no point in submitting something just because, it has to make a real contribution.

      And don’t worry: feathers may come with time 😉

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