Weblog of a Christian philosophy student

Weblog of a Christian philosophy student. Please feel free to comment. All of my posts are public domain. Subscribe to posts [Atom]. Email me at countaltair [at] yahoo.com.au. I also run a Chinese to English translation business at www.willfanyi.com.

Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Friday, October 15, 2010

Is belief in God natural?

Suppose I created a robot to pick up rocks and for some reason gave it consciousness. In that circumstance, it would be OK for that robot to feel an obligation to pick up rocks and have beliefs reflecting that desire, because that's what it's been programmed to do and think. In the same way, if God has programmed humans to believe in a 'divine reality', then it would be intellectually acceptable for humans to believe in a divine reality under that circumstance. We'd just be fulfilling our 'programming', which would make religious belief perfectly fine regardless of other considerations.

But what if such a God doesn't exist? If there's only a 1% chance of such a God existing, then this viewpoint should sound silly.

Yet, it's not silly to affirm this point of view if there's a 90% chance of such a God existing.

So then what are the chances that there is a God who wires religious belief in this way? If it's 90%, then we can easily affirm the point-of-view described above. If it's 50% or a bit less, then maybe we can believe that it applies to us but in a way that leaves room for a fair amount of doubt.

If there's no evidence for or against God, then the principle of parsimony (if you can cut something out of an explanation without losing anything, cut it out) reduces the chance of God existing. But the chance that God exists does not thereby become nothing, because the debate about God is also part of a broader debate: is the realm of subjective experiences (mind) one of reality's accidents? Or something that has a place at the very foundation of reality? The latter idea will always be somewhat appealing to people in some form or other, even if it has no other evidence for it.

Also, a lot of believers would say that looking at the beauty of the natural world and the physical laws of the universe (the 'fine-tuning' argument), arguments from the big bang, other apologetics, etc., gives some evidence for a God. If so, then there would be a higher chance of a 'hard wiring' God existing.

What's the lowest chance that a 'hard wiring' God exists for believers to take the scenario above as seriously applying to humanity? In one study people found a 'reasonable doubt' that someone is guilty of a crime to exist at about a 25+% chance of innocence, given the evidence. I suppose that indicates you can get reasonable people believing in something with a 25+% likelihood that it's true. So if you bring this idea into the discussion, then there needs to be a 25+% chance of such a God existing for believers to take the scenario above seriously on purely rational grounds.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I am from Melbourne too.

Please find a completely different Illuminated Understanding of God via these references.






Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will, I like your thoughtful and rigorous blogging. Where are you studying, if I may ask?

Blogger Will G said...

Hey, thanks for your comments.

I actually finished studying at the end of last year and since I have graduated I have been working and doing a teaching course part-time. I've kept the name of the blog though. I studied at the University of Melbourne, did an Arts degree with honours in philosophy and political science.


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