Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What is God?

In an attempt to find out what I believe some have asked me “who is God”? I think that’s kind of a weird question. How would I know? The question also assumes that God is a person and that God has a name. Maybe that’s true but I wouldn’t know. I don’t think it is possible for anyone to know what God is. Many have made up stories about God as an attempt to understand what God is and some of these stories have become religions. It may also be that we humans have been designed with an innate yet primitive understanding of God and there is some truth to religious stories and belief systems.

While I don’t think we are intelligent enough to understand what God is I believe it is possible to understand some things about God and we can deduce these things from what we see around us. One of the things we know and experience every day is entropy. Entropy is the tendency for things to become unorganized. Intelligence, on the other hand, can make things organized. Life is highly organized and its existence is contrary to entropy. It is so organized that the combined intelligence of all mankind hasn’t yet be able to create life or anything like the simplest life form. My belief is that God is the intelligence that created life. God may be a person, or many persons, or nothing like that at all. I don’t know. I do know that life exists in a world of entropy and I consider that proof for the existence of intelligence that significantly supersedes human intelligence. The existence of life on the other hand does not imply the existence of an all-knowing intelligence (an omniscient God).

I have read several arguments by atheists against the existence of God. Most of these are arguments against a Christian concept of God who is all-knowing, all-powerful and all-loving. The “problem of evil” arguments made by atheists are convincing to me, but I don’t draw the conclusion that God doesn’t exist. Instead I draw the conclusion that God isn’t omniscient, omnipotent, and all-loving. In fact God may not be powerful at all. Instead God may use intelligence to act powerfully, like the way I might use a jack to lift a car or like the way others have used their intelligence to build nuclear weapons.

It’s been my experience that God doesn’t answer prayers. However, I will admit that I sometimes pray for the health and well-being of my loved ones. I have also entertained the idea that we are part of God and we have found a way to make ourselves “live” -- and being part of God we are connected to one another on an extra-conscious level (we could also be connected to one another without being part of God). Because of this my prayers usually take the form encouraging thoughts directed toward specific people.

I am not a religious person. By that I mean that I don’t practice a particular religion by going to church regularly, reading holy books, or participating in religious ceremonies -- and I don’t ask God to find me parking spots or deliver me from the consequences of acting stupid. I don’t believe that God wants or needs to be worshiped. It may be that God wants to be appreciated for his creation, like what we do when we enjoy a sunset. Taken to an extreme, appreciation takes the form of doing the hard work of science to discover how the universe works. Whenever I see a picture of Albert Einstein, with raised eyebrows of curiosity imprinted on his face, I think to myself that that is the face of a profoundly “religious” man. It may also be that God wants to be respected and we do this by respecting Gods creation which includes the environment, our fellow human beings and ourselves.

I don’t think of God as good or bad. I don’t think good and bad have meaning in the context of God. I think of God as a creator that has built into us an instinct to stay alive and a desire to live freely. This translates into a respect for life and freedom that forms the basis for our morality. The differences that we have in regard to what we perceive as right and wrong often relate to how we choose to emphasize life and/or freedom in a given context.

Lastly, I don’t think the ideas of intelligent design and evolution are mutually exclusive. In fact, in my occupation as a software engineer they play quite nicely together. Developing software is a creative and evolutionary process driven by intelligent design (thus the name of my blog). What doesn’t work for me is the idea that evolution could ever be driven by random mutation and natural selection in a universe of entropy.