God, the universe and us

Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.

Carl Sagan
In his post god…, John, has attempted to respond to a comment, I am assuming by an atheist, and tells us nothing really. The comment

The idea that is some super powerful entity created the universe 13.8 billion years ago, then waited about 9 billion years before creating our solar system, then waited another 4 billion years before creating humans, then waited until about a few thousand years ago to reveal himself. He did all of this, created a universe with billions and billions of galaxies, each containing billions and billions of stars, most of which we cannot see, all for the benefit of a species of carbon based organisms on a small planet orbiting a small to medium sized sun. And this species has only inhabited its planet for less than 1/100 of 1 percent of the life of the planet. And this super powerful being in this gigantic universe watches what people do and listens to their wishes and cares whether someone gets a job, or recovers from an illness or wins a football game. This idea is so ridiculous, so outlandish that it should be considered effectively impossible.

So that’s why people don’t believe in your mythological deity…. because it’s stupid.

A comment I agree with. It is not of interest to us. I copy it here for those uninterested in going to check John’s post.

John attempts to turn the comment on its head to argue the probabilities of our existing are close to nil but forgets the little detail that regardless of what possibilities/ probabilities say, we are. This is one fact you can’t assail. And our being, does not shine a light on the existence of a god.

John writes

This notwithstanding, what interested me most about this reply was the portrait of God presupposed in the description. The argument only really works if you presuppose that God does not conform to a concept of God, but to the realities of what it’s like to be a human being.

I hope he intends to tell us about his conception of god is.

He tells us the above portrayal of god is inaccurate. He says

These are no doubt interesting questions but they presuppose a rather anthropomorphic understanding of God.

But one must ask, isn’t a god who suffers, who dies, who hears prayers, loves and hates anthropomorphic? How else would one describe the god of the Abrahamic religions? Isn’t it anything but anthropomorphic?

The god of the bible, is said to have given man dominion over all things on land and in water. Essentially, to this god, man is at the apex of creation. John, by denying this should at least tell us which god he serves.

In Genesis god rested on the seventh day. I don’t know whether it was out of tiredness or lack of ideas. Whatever linguists want to take the rest to mean, it is there in the bible. So when John says

when one doesn’t have to rest

he at least should tell us why the author of that part of Genesis had god resting. And the claim that is metaphorical will not wash for everywhere, Christians justify resting on their chosen days of worship by referring to god’s rest.

While I don’t know what god is, I would be interested in knowing how John purports to know the mind of god. I would like to know how he knows

God can at any single time have before him with full attention every single piece of existence, as it were, as if it were the only thing that exists. In other words, there is nothing exceptional from God’s perspective in his ability to be interested in prayers, ponies, water-polo, and the Polish all at the same time—intimately and immediately.

this about god. The only perspective I can claim knowledge of is mine. I can from my own experience make inductive judgments on other humans, but how John can make such statements about god waits to be demonstrated.

I don’t know about you, but at the end when John writes

In fact, to construe God any other way, is, I proffer, to misunderstand what the concept of God is.

I am left unconvinced that he has shown his conception of god to be not anthropomorphic. What he has done is to increase the abilities of god infinitely but still, it is, as far as I can tell, a man with superpowers.

I don’t think John has answered to the critique raised in the comment above. Neither has he demonstrated how his god isn’t anthropomorphic.

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

137 thoughts on “God, the universe and us

  1. Tish Farrell says:

    It is humans claiming to know the mind of god that I have the biggest problems with. If he were real, how could humans possibly know his mind. He wouldn’t be a god then would he, or am I approaching this too simplistically. Duh. 🙂


  2. john zande says:

    The time scales are always a good argument for the silliness of a personal god, but I think the immense, unfathomable scale of the universe is even better. It renders the personal god concept so utterly absurd that one cannot even engage the subject seriously. What it does do, though, is bring Scott Adam’s God Debris god closer to the warmth of reasonableness.


  3. So, to this brilliant fellow, god isn’t anthropomorphic, eh? He refers to it as him, then says it isn’t anthropomorphic. Idjit. Plain and simple. This fellow is an idjit. I’ve never heard any description of a god or gods that wasn’t anthropomorphic. Humans create gods, so gods are like us. Though, we at least actually exist.


  4. archaeopteryx1 says:

    Actually, the Yahwist (J) Source (of the Torah), a group of priests writing in the Southern Kingdom of Judea, in Jerusalem, about 950 BCE, who wrote Gen 1 – 4 and others, the first to write of a god, conceived of an anthropic god who popped down to earth often for walks “in the cool of the day” – what kind of god cares about temperatures? He personally sewed clothing for the First Family, and become such a common visitor that Cain felt familiar with him to dare to retort, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

    It was nearly a half-millennium later that the Priestly (P) Source, a group of Aaronid priests in captivity in Babylon, decided that all of Israel’s troubles were caused, not by actions of their own making regarding their relationships with their more powerful neighbors, but rather because they had disrespected their god, so having had several hundred years of being led by kings, created a more royal god, who sat regally on his throne all day while his angels performed his errands for him, like the servants of a king, and so, wrote Gen 1, intending that it replace entirely Gen 2. Unfortunately they neglected to leave instructions regarding their intentions, and so a hundred + years later, those who redacted the four sources into a combined Torah, simply included both stories, hence two different personalities in the same god.

    PS – tell John we could certainly use him over on Nate’s site – Mike is back!


    • makagutu says:

      John doesn’t have a comment feature on his blog. I am not feeling like sending him email either.
      I think, the best evidence for evolution is how the conception of god has changed over time


  5. AC/DC “Who made who…” /smirk


    • makagutu says:

      I am still thinking

      Liked by 1 person

      • C/C met A/D; then C left C and A left D; then the first C hooked up with A and the second C hooked up with D. Now we have A/C and D/C, see?


        • I like the band name because they swinge both ways like I do. My wife is not really into men so much but I like em just fine. Like her better but men can be cool.


          • They’re an amazing band.


            • being born deaf I loved heavy music I could feel their music. I now hear but tend to still “listen” deaf. More fun to not care and just boogie down.

              Liked by 1 person

              • I was friends with a gal who wasn’t born deaf, but lost her hearing later in life. She really enjoyed the metal bands too. Like you, she said she enjoyed just feeling the music vibrate through her. I’m fairly efficient in ASL. Haven’t used it in quite awhile as I’ve fallen out of touch with my friend, but I was fairly fluent in it.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Nice, I read lips well, have spoken about 900 words before my CI. I now hear with the CI and am pretty fluent with speech and can say most anything, though I still rely heavy on reading lips I now can identify about 3,000 words by sound. So communication is easier but I find myself signing when I speak. As does my wife and partner for 16 years and life long friend sign when she speaks.

                  It’s fun to sit in a restaurant and sign without a word. People can’t understand what you are saying.


              • ratamacue0 says:

                By “listen deaf”, do you mean you turn down your cochlear (IIRC)?


                • The battery is external to my head, by removing it I am fully deaf again. Batteries last about 10-14 hours depending on use and some conditions. (Haven’t figured out all the conditions yet) But outside they die faster.

                  So I just take off the battery. Since I have an inner ear but no auditory nerve mine are hybrid CI tech “Nucleus 6” I take out the battery and the ear insert (hearing aid kind of).The battery attaches to a connection beneath my hair in my skull that powers the wires which replace my auditory nerve and the hearing aid like ear insert. (Not a doctor though so not sure what the proper names are.)

                  So for me it’s all in am I wearing the external pieces or not. 🙂

                  Liked by 1 person

  6. Arkenaten says:

    One thing that can be said for these frakking dingbats is they appear to be running out of arguments, while the business of science marches inexorably on and every generation or so these dimwits are obliged to indulge in one or two major paradigm shifts. Eventually they will be nothing but quaint oddities.

    One wonders where was this frakking personal god during the fun times the Church was almost the absolute authority.
    Imagine what would have happened should you have opened your pie hole and said: ”Oh, Yahweh and I chat all the time, I don’t need the Pope or the church.”

    Kindling matches, anyone?


  7. John Garrett Bolton says:

    MAKAGUTU, I thank you for your treatment of my post.
    Since you haven’t actually dealt with either my probability argument or efficiency argument I will not respond to either of those issues, which were I think more at the centre of the content of my post then the specific issues that you have raised.

    However, the question of anthropomorphism and knowing the mind of God are two important issues, which I think you’ve rightly drawn attention to. Obviously one cannot say everything one can possibly say in a post, especially when the intention of the post is to point out certain things (rather than others).

    You are quite right in saying that the bible is full of anthropomorphisms. God rested, God was angry, God heard, God is a “he,” etc. I take these not as literal descriptions of God, but as representing in the best way that humans can what God is. One will have to anthropomorphize God at some points. For instance, I refer to God as “He” since this is something Jesus himself (God’s Son, in the Christian tradition) refers to him as, i.e, “Father.” I am merely following the example. I don’t actually think that God has a penis or testosterone, etc., or a body for the matter. There is no way around some anthropomorphizing, but it is unnecessary to do so at every point. And even in the bible itself you get both anthropomorphic language as well as language that tries to distance itself from anthropomorphisms and the error in thinking that result. For instance, Jesus in the Gospel of John says that “God is spirit” (John 4:24). When it does occur and needs to occur I suspect it’s an attempt to personalize something that is very different from us, in the hopes that we can relate to it better. I think that ought to be understandable. The points I think I have indicated, however, are instances where anthropomorphism is not only unnecessary but detrimental to a proper understanding of God.

    As for the mind of God issue. I don’t think I’ve claimed to know the mind of God in any absolute sense. (Your point is that I know all about it, which would be impossible, and obviously something I would not claim.) I think it would be fair to say, however, that have claimed to know *something* about it, which should not be thought of as unresonable. One of your commenters mentioned that he/she did not know the mind of his/her own partner. I don’t doubt this, but surely he/she knows something about it, namely in every instance where the partner speaks or gives him/her a “piece of his/her mind.” That something of God’s mind is knowable can I think be deduced from a number of premises, which I don’t think are unreasonable in themselves. 1) that God is not bound by time, which would then suggest he can attend to every time, and thus to everything within the spatio-temporal “area.” If God were bound by time, there would be something problematic, I think, about the concept of God. 2) That God is loving, which I take from the fact that he sent his son to save the world (according to the Christian belief). That there is loving God outside or in the universe is not an impossibility, and it is something that Christianity claims, regardless of what other religions might say. 3) that God is infinite, in some way, which would mean that he was able to be present everywhere at once. If God is not infinite, there would be once again a problem in the conception of God. These are positions that theologians have held to for centuries, and in different religious traditions. It is from these that I think it is reasonable to say that God, since he is not limited (i.e., infinite), can be interested in everything he has created at the same time, and find those things interesting or important to himself, since he is supposedly loving. I don’t know why this would be problematic, and certainly does not entail that I personally know everything there is to know about God’s mind. I hope this helps to clarify some of the points you’ve raised, whether you agree with them or not.



    • makagutu says:

      Hello JGB thanks for taking time to read and respond.
      As to the efficiency argument; I think you agree with me that the only perspective we know is man’s. We can’t say anything about gods’, even if we allowed them to exist.
      It is man who has said god has this and this ability. I have no knowledge of a time when a god said that. I am open to be taught.


    • makagutu says:

      I think I didn’t respond to some part of this comment.
      I think the premises are not valid. They carry with them the assumption that god is, that this god is known and so on. I don’t accept the premises. That said, there are theologians who in their theodicies have sought to reduce either the knowledge or the power of god.
      Apart from infinity being an abstract thing to us, to think an infinite and omni god can also be caring and personal is, to me, a little illogical for lack of a better word.


  8. ejwinner says:

    “In Genesis god rested on the seventh day. I don’t know whether it was out of tiredness or lack of ideas.” – Got drunk the night before; all-knowing, all-powerful, all-drunk, all-hungover.

    The only way to explain away the incoherence of the god-concept is to claim god is beyond human comprehension. Maybe; but that also means god is beyond human interest. An unfathomable god is irrelevant, a god we can understand is too limited to be god. god seems to lose out in any event.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. ratamacue0 says:

    God can at any single time have before him with full attention every single piece of existence, as it were, as if it were the only thing that exists. In other words, there is nothing exceptional from God’s perspective in his ability to be interested in prayers, ponies, water-polo, and the Polish all at the same time—intimately and immediately.

    The composer of this list forgot a few things – like rape, lynchings, genocide…


  10. A Guy Without Boxers says:

    My Nairobi brother, I was about to post a very profound thought on your post today. However, I began to read the thread of comments here and became completely distracted by the “showing up naked with beer and pizza” dialogue. Now, I have totally forgotten my thought! Forgive me, my friend. Mentally, I’m on “summer mode!” Also, I am a year older! Much love and naked hugs, my friend! 😉


  11. emmylgant says:

    Man was made in the image of God we are told in the bbl…. presumably so folks can relate/love/worship. Because we undestand naturally love kindness cooperation family and problem solving. Anthropomorphic attributes are desirable in that context.
    However, when life/shit/random events of catastrophic consequence, beit personal or collective, occur, the same bbl tells us that god’s thoughts are unknowable and we are just too plain dumb to get his reasons for allowing horrors to thrive…. That’s when anthropomorphic features breakdown. We have countless accounts of madmen’s actions resulting in suffering and chaos. ..
    so ‘god can’t have human feelings or needs’ becomes the fall back position of the brainwashed and desperate.


  12. Arkenaten says:

    In Genesis god rested on the seventh day. I don’t know whether it was out of tiredness or lack of ideas.

    Doesn’t look as it you made those plastic models as a kid, Mak, as if you had, you would know why Yahweh rested – he was waiting for the glue to dry before painting.


  13. ‘Presuppose’ the favoured word of most theists when debating.

    In order to have even a rudimentary leg to stand on, they need this word to drive home their (pointless) point.

    Their whole argument rests on it, thereby creating in their own minds the idea that we atheists DO believe in a supernatural deity figure and are just attempting to deny his/her/its existence due to our anger and hatred of God.

    Theists seem to be unable to grasp the simple concept that WE DO NOT BELIEVE IN THEIR GOD!

    This is but one of the reasons I tire of debating theists nowadays.


  14. I thought John’s blog was boring. See, I did go and read. And he’s into all that original sin twaddle too. Now, naked discussions and beer are more interesting. Except I want vegetarian pizza. Well vegan to be really honest.

    Have a good weekend Mak.


We sure would love to hear your comments, compliments and thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s