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The God Hypothesis

Carl Sagan

If want to discuss idea of God and restrict to rational arguments, first need to define what mean by God.Judaic/Xian/Moslem god seen as omnipotent, omniscient, creator of universe, responsive to prayers and intervenes in human affairs

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But just as likely that the Creator could indifferent to prayer, or oblivious to human beings. Gods that never die, gods that do die. Gods with zero, one or many saviours. Gods with zero, one or many resurrections. Presence of an afterlife or reincarnation. Human sacrifice, temple prostitution, jihads etc etc. Wide range possible, so have to ask "What kind of god are you talking about, and what is the evidence that this god exists?"

Why don't details of religious beliefs cross cultural barriers? In India there are many devotees of a rel of a blue, elephant headed-god, but nobody in the West experiences a conversion to this rel. Why are apparitions of the Virgin Mary common in the West but rarely occur in places where there isn't a strong Christian tradition?

Suppose a new prophet arises who claims revelation from God, but that revelation contravenes previous revelations. How is another person to judge this claim? Not usually enough to say "Well there's this extremely charismatic person who said he had a religious experience." Problem is that there are too many of them. They can't all be right. You ask "Where's the evidence?"

Standard Proofs

Everything must have a cause; something must have made everything.
- then who made god?

The world isn't falling so something must be holding it up.
- but we now know that it's spinning on axis and speeding through the cosmos

Two conflicting ideas - that God was always here and the universe was always here. If you say God made universe, reasonable to ask, who made God? We have no information as to what existed before Big Bang; we have no idea what was there before God.

Emmanuel Kant that we wouldn't know how to be moral if not for rel
- but plenty of studies show morality in non-rel people
- evolution explains - those who showed altruism toward young and relatives passed on their genes

Religious experiences
- but a million people believe they have had a personal contact with a UFO/alien in last 60 years, and as far as we can tell that doesn't equate to any proof that ET is amongst us

Standard Problems With God

4 propositions held to be true (by xians): Evil exists, God is benevolent, God is omniscient, God is omnipotent.
- at least one of these has to be false, given the amount of suffering in the world
- apologists try to maintain that the suffering is for "God's greater plan" but the sheer scale of suffering challenges that.

Why is it necessary for a God to micromanage human affairs, as almost all religions believe? Why is it necessary for God to come down and tell humans "Do this, don't do that, don't pray this way, don't worship anyone else, mutilate your children as follows, don't eat this, grow your hair this way? If these things are so important, why didn't God just design humans that way in the first place?

Easy proof. God could have engraved 10 commandments on surface of the moon, or arranged for a 100 kilometer crucifix in Earth orbit. Instead, all the alleged 'God stuff' - his writings and instructions - are things that primitive shepherds living 3000 years ago knew.

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