Tuesday, 11 July 2017
At the end of my last post, I said I am working on a post explaining why your god does not exist. It was written to be comedically inflammatory, but it was not in fact a joke. I didn't think I could write it this quickly, but it was a genuine statement. After mulling over it last week, I have the steps laid out pretty simply. Now, it gets a little convoluted, since I am preemptively countering dissent, but let's get to it. I honestly know that your god does not exist, and I plan to explain in simple, logical steps why that is the case. If you want to come to understand, as I do, that it is not logical to believe in god, you need merely to care about what is true, and come to understand ghosts, magic, the year 1850 and basic science.
The Word of the Day is: 'SOUL'
Soul /sōl/ n. 1. The principle of life, feeling, thought, and action in humans, believed to be separate in existence from the body, and living after death; the spiritual part of humans as distinct from the physical. 2. High-mindedness; noble warmth of feeling, spirit or courage, etc. 3. A leader or inspirer of some movement, etc.; moving spirit: He was the soul of the Resistance. 4. The spirit of a dead person. 5. A human being; person: She was a kindly soul.
So, why is the word of the day soul and not "blasphemy" or "godless" or something? Well, because I feel like the reason it's difficult to explain to people why their religious beliefs are wrong are because when you talk about god, you are missing the true target. When a person sneezes, you can get them a tissue, but that is merely the symptom of an underlying sickness.
So, when we talk about religion, a personal belief in god is merely a falsehood built upon a greater fallacy - the belief in magic.
You may disagree, you may think I'm putting words into your mouth - and I freely admit that I am putting a word in your mouth, which is the word "magic", but I'm not doing so carelessly. Magic is, essentially, the supernatural. You may use the word "omnipotence" or "supernatural" or "angelic" or "heavenly". Which is to say, that which is beyond nature and natural law. So, when I say magic, I mean "something which is naturally impossible".
But the reason why people believe in magic is because most people have a fundamental presumption about themselves which is false. That presumption is, in simplest terms, that human beings have a non-corporeal ghost that lives within the meat-based machine that is our body, and encompasses our consciousness, life and sense of self. The fact of the matter is, not only is this unscientific and wrong, it is entirely ridiculous when you approach it with the simplest scientific scrutiny.
Now, I believe you have a consciousness, you have a self. And whilst I am not about to get into a philosophical debate about it any time soon, pragmatically speaking we have free will. But from, every evidence, from neural scans, scientific researches, brain surgery and head injuries, we know that what physically happens in your head (and therefore brain) has a direct impact upon yourself.
As a simple thought experiment, If I take a scalpel to your mind, I can cut out your memories. I can sever the connection that makes you feel your legs. If you are born with a part of your brain missing or misshapen, or you grow a tumour, you can think differently, you can think wrong, you can miss fundamental aspects of this complex mechanism which can make it hard to read, sleep, emote or speak.
Because, in simplest terms, your brain is you.
For some reason, people believe that when they die, their soul will somehow break free of their physical body and drift up . . . or down . . . or "out"?? Either way, It will somehow transcend this reality and enter some new paradigm where they will encounter some untold wonder or horror depending upon the moral inventory of their lifetime.
There are several issues with this, but let's just cover the first one, simply. The fact of the matter is that everything we identify as you, your memories, your ability to make decisions, your sense of humour and your intelligence, are all part of your brain. That's not just hearsay or supposition. There are conditions of losing the capacity to actually think, such as anhedonia which is an inability to feel positive feelings; agnosia, the inability to comprehend your senses & aboulia, the inability to make decisions - a fundamental aspect of what we call humanity, free will, can be lost just by suffering a stroke.
And this isn't like a driver letting go of the controls - this isn't as though for a moment, your "soul" lost its connection to your brain, and you tried to do something but couldn't pull the lever. People experience these as present and real experiences of losing an ability that we take for granted. They, as a person, lose a part of what is themselves.
Memories are the most apparent form of this. Cases of people with anterograde amnesia lose the ability to make memories. The meat of their brain which turns experiences into memories, by establishing connections in the fibres of their brain, is lost. So, if a person with these malfunctions died, how is it that they would experience these things in an afterlife? In fact, how can one experience anything in an afterlife without the part of their brain that interprets senses. How can you feel without a spinal cord? How can you see without an optic nerve?
The fact of the matter is that you can't.
And what is this soul "made" of? At one point, people suggested ectoplasm (like what they talk about in Ghostbusters), but when people realised that was a photographic trick done with cheesecloth, people eventually reinterpreted the "soul" to be formed by energy. Something that you cannot see, but which is a fundamental force. However, this too is just as ridiculous when people suggest such a soul can outlive death, because energy is something we've understood for a long time.
Energy does not have memories, energy is either a force through a medium, like a shockwave or sound; motion and light. Or, force is electricity, chemical reaction or potential energy within an object. You can measure energy, and energy is made up of fundamental, understood elements. There's no life in energy, there's no magic.
So, at the end of the day, the soul just does not exist. It is nothing more than a hypothesis about consciousness that has been disproven by science.
As many people have said before me, I like the poetic version of the soul and I reinterpret the word to mean "people", "conscience", "kindness" or "consciousness" when I use it. For many stories I've written, I write about magic and I deliberately base magic around the soul, because it's a pseudoscience useful for mining ideas out of - just like how Frankenstein uses the pseudoscience of alchemy.
But the reason we've disproved the soul is because, well, magic doesn't exist. Things that exist, have form. They have observable features and facets. Even those things which you and I know exist, but cannot see - like electrons, microbes and quantum physics - these are observed using the tools at our disposal.
They may seem astounding, but no matter how outlandish these things are, they are based upon testing, observation, experimentation and inductive reasoning.
That's not to say that some things may exist which we have not found yet, but the soul is not one of them, because we have biological explanations for everything people "suggest" that the soul does. We know where consciousness, morality and emotion comes from, we know why people die and we know about some of the strange things that happen during death as the brain stops functioning.
And all of this leads to my main point in regards to a god.
See, there's a specific reason I have titled this post "Your God Does Not Exist", and not "God is a dumb idea" or something equally inflammatory. I cannot honestly say "no God exists" for the same reason that I cannot honestly say "no fourth spatial dimension exists". I can understand what a dimension is, and everything I understand seems to show that we live in a three- dimensional reality (maybe four- if you count time) and that's it. But, dismissing the possibility of another is beyond me, because I lack the capacity to even prove it false. I don't even know how I'd begin, because I don't know what form this dimension would take.
However, it would be just as foolish to assume it's true based on the evidence. In the instance of not knowing the objective truth, it is wrong to make any assumptions. Because even if you're "right", you can still be wrong.
I think the best example of this is flight. If I went to a person in the year 1850 and said "Human beings are capable of flying", if she said "No, that's impossible", then she would be wrong. As we all know, human beings are capable of flying, but only by specific means, by applying the science of flight to create flying machines.
However, if I found another person and said "Human beings are capable of flying" and he said "Absolutely, that's totally true" then jumped off the cliff to prove it, he too would be wrong. Even though he is right, he agrees with the facts, he is still wrong because he doesn't understand why he's right - even if he had faith that I was telling the truth.
See, until we know the facts and the science, until we have replicable results and answers and until we know not only what is possible but also what is not, we cannot just assume that we know the answers. The reason why scientists, inventors and engineers are so important is because they can look at a statement like "humans can't fly" and ask "Well, how do we know?"
To me, a person saying "Oh yes, a god exists, watch and I'll prove it" and praying for a miracle is just as stupid as that uneducated man jumping off a roof. We don't know that god exists, but even if for the sake of argument one 'did' or even 'could', you are still wrong because you still leaping before you look. There is no evidence that a god exists, and doing anything before you have knowledge or proof is absolutely foolish. Always and every time.
And that is my point, there is no evidence that a god does exist, and so I have adopted the only rational position in response to that - accepting that there is no evidence of a god. And since I cannot believe in a god when there is no evidence for one, I am an atheist.
So, I know that your god does not exist, because when I say your god, I mean the one you believe in. The one you pray to. I know that this god does not exist, because belief in a god, religious worship and prayer all require assumptions on your part, which apply features and factors to a god. But, as soon as you believe that you can in some way determine the features or facets of a god, you have left the realms of reality, since in reality we have no evidence for that kind of thing.
See, we have come to understand why the sun moves the way it does, why the tide goes in and out and how magnets work. These are not miracles or magic, they are understood. At one point, a god could have described these things by their origin or function. But whenever someone tries to utilize a god in the modern day, it is often to fulfil some magical need which does not exist.
The most common one is, of course, the soul. Souls are magical, unseen ghosts that don't arrive naturally, so of course they must be endowed by a magical being. But, once you realize that souls don't exist, you don't need a god to explain what life is, we already know that it is complex biochemistry.
Then people use god to explain the "spiritual" things in life . . . but, just by applying science and reasoning, then we can come to see that, there aren't any spiritual things. Most of the things we call spiritual are either outdated, pseudoscientific, moral or emotional. And despite how religion may insist that we are immoral without belief in god, that's just an outright lie.
Some people say god hears our prayers. Not only has intercessory prayer been disproven by testing, but it presumes some ability to somehow either transmit and perceive thought, which is patently ridiculous, or some capacity to hear a sound from beyond the stretch of a spoken word's earshot, perhaps even from within an alternate dimension.
That's what I will never understand, where exactly god is supposed to be, since heaven clearly isn't "here". It was above the clouds before we built rockets, now nobody can seem to point to god's domain on a map. I've even heard people say that he exists beyond reality . . . which I have to agree with since I believe that, like most things which don't exist in reality, the concept they are describing is fictitious.
And don't even try to ask what god is "made" of. Despite being unknown, unseen, intangible, omnipotent and/or endless, they still think it's a thinking man. Despite the fact that in order for both of those things to be true, it would need to have a brain and a penis; unless of course god is transgender, and even then no one is prepared to explain how our transcendental tranny has a vagina despite not even having a body. Some people want us to believe in a mind without a brain, a great, all-powerful soul.
This is why I started with the initial premise, that souls do not exist. The fact of the matter is that souls, especially this religious account of immortal souls, do not exist. Magic does not exist, and the only way for a god to exist, you would need to believe in magic, in souls, in the ability for something to exist, yet defy every single definition of existence. But once you realize that souls do not exist, there's nowhere for this magical being to hide - not in this natural universe.
So, why do people believe in this nonsense? Personally, I believe it's because of the last claim to fame of most religions. Often people will try to explain that once we die, our soul needs to "go somewhere" (for some reason), and so that domain is under the command of a god. However, since souls don't exist, I'm sorry to inform you - if you do not already know - that when you die you will be dead. Religion may attempt to offer us that "deathless death" and promise eternity, but when you die you will cease to be alive, and everything that is you, except for your body, will be gone. If that concept scares you, don't worry, that's an understood dysfunction of human intellect. But to butcher the words of some other famous atheists - if you are scared of dying, then you must be just scared of 1850. After all, that was before you were born, you did not exist and nothing of you was there. If you do not fear the history before you were alive, why would you fear the destiny that is after you are alive?
And hey, if it makes you feel any better, whilst the soul does not exist, that doesn't mean that there is no afterlife. Just like with god or a fourth spatial dimension, I do not have the means to conclude that there is no afterlife, since I cannot even define what one is.
All science regarding consciousness seems to conclude that when you die, you won't experience it. But since no one has come back to tell us there isn't one, technically, the possibility remains. Personally, I view the possibility of an afterlife like the possibility of cupcakes to start falling from the sky above me. It's not "definitely" impossible, but let's just say I'm not going to set the dinner table for a downfall of pastry. I am still going to make my own dinner, but hey, if it happens I certainly won't complain.
Just live your life, do the best you can and be happy. It is a disgusting waste that so many people spend the time of the only life we know for a fact that we have - praying to a god which, according to every science we have, cannot exist - in the hopes of maybe possibly getting a better life that probably can't even happen.
I'm the Absurd Word Nerd, and although I wish this could help to unveil the disillusioned masses of their myths, the fact of the matter is that most religious belief is based on a foundation of emotion. Sometimes it's fear of death; sometimes it's the comfort of the religious community; sometimes it's the sadness of those friends and family that have died & sometimes it's just confusion, due to the complex emotions relating to having grown up in a religious family.
But, at the end of the day, I don't care why you're religious, because the fact of the matter is, your god does not exist. If that bothers you, well, do something about it and prove that it exists. But even if you do, it doesn't change the fact that you were wrong to believe based on faith.