Do we need God?

23 augusti 2009


In Sweden today not many people care about religion. People think it is something that belongs to history, but we still need it as an inspiration in our lives.


Fewer and fewer people in the Western society believe in God. He is considered to be outdated and Christians are often seen as backwards people. Christians say that God is loving and gives people a reason to live, but atheists and apatheists seem pretty happy to. This raises the question; do we really need God or should we let him belong to the history?


First of all we need to get our terms straight. “We” means all human beings on this earth. “God” refers to the highest being. This God could appear in different shapes to different people and no one is right to say that his or her image of God is better or more correct than anyone else’s, because we can never be totally sure whose image is the most complete. This is one of the advantages of religion; everyone is free to believe in whatever they want to, there is no right or wrong. We also need to some basis for God’s existence, but since belief is called belief for a reason we cannot know for sure, so there will be arguments against atheism.

To answer whether we need God or not we need to know why there is religion. The most common reason is probably that people seek answers. This could be answers to any question, big or small. Why do we exist? Where do we come from? What created the universe? As the centuries have passed we have learned a lot and science has answered some of these questions. We exist because the earth has perfect conditions for life, it is on a perfect distance from the sun, the temperature allows us to live and have access to liquid water and we have an atmosphere that allows us to breathe. We have evolved from the early primates and if you go even longer back from simple bacteria. The universe was created by the Big Bang, an enormous explosion.

Ok, so science can answer our questions, then religion must have played out its role? Not really, science does not really know that all this is really true, and a lot are only theories. Even though it does seem likely and makes some kind of sense it might not be perfect explanations. Atheists often abuse this knowledge to prove religion wrong, and claim that believing in something there is no evidence for is plain stupid, why believe when you can know? But atheists do not know either, sure theists believe but atheists only believe they know. One of these atheists is the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, known for his books The Selfish Gene (1976), The Blind Watchmaker (1986) and The God Delusion (2006); the latter has become some kind of an atheist bible. Dawkins says that the Christian God does not exist since the Big Bang created universe, not God. However the Big Bang is just a theory that has never been proven. It also shows the outdated image of God that he shares with other atheists; the one as the creator who created the earth in six days, following the Book of Genesis to the letter. However, as most other texts in the bible, this is a symbolic text. God did not write the bible, men did. There were not even any scientists by the time the Book of Genesis was written, so how can you expect someone to write a totally correct description of how the universe was created? The message of this text is simply “God created the universe”, God is the Big Bang. There simply has to be a first mover, even a scientist has to agree on that point. There can be no uncaused cause, and saying that there out of nothing, with no reason or cause suddenly appears an infinite, and expanding, universe is not logical and does not follow the laws of nature. And the laws of nature are what atheists use to base their philosophy of life on. In that way atheism proves itself to be wrong, or at least incomplete.

In an effort to prove that God cannot be the first mover Dawkins argues that he is a too complex being. As an evolutionary biologist Dawkins knows that complex structures are preceded by more simple structures in a chain of development. But God is neither biological nor physical. Dawkins’ own description of complexity is something, whose “elements are combined in such a way that chance itself could not be the reason”,[1] but God is a unique spiritual being and has no elements. So God is no improbable complex being. This shows one of Dawkins’ disadvantages; he argues about philosophical questions, but he is no philosopher. He is a biologist who assumes that materialism is true, just because he experiences it, but what if it is not? While the never-ending search for a first cause will continue ad infinitum for atheists, who seek a material explanation, a theist can solve it by saying God, who is immaterial, is the first mover. Atheists can at their best say that it was just chance, but that is not very scientific. As Albert Einstein said, “God does not play dice”.[2]

But at the same time it is important to remember that science and religion do not have to be opposites. Many scientists are religious and scientific discoveries only strengthen their belief. They have often kept their belief secret, but many have come out of the closet recently. This started in the late 20th century when astronomers, physicists and mathematicians saw the complex, yet perfectly designed structures and physical constants that allows the universe and life as we know it to exist, if they had been slightly different from what they are, we would never have been here. [3]

If we cannot know whether there is a God or not, then why should we care about it at all? Why cannot everyone be agnostic? Some people might refer to Pascal’s Wager and say that you could gain a lot by believing, but lose a lot by not believing. The safest bet should therefore be to believe in God.

Believing just because you could gain something from it is not real belief though, and both you yourself and an omniscient God would know that you are only a “gold digger” and you would not gain any of the advantages of belief, so Pascal’s Wager is irrelevant in that aspect. However, the reasoning behind Pascal’s Wager might help people find God. If someone, by using reason decides to look up what religion really is about and finds it nice and helpful for him or her, then Pascal’s Wager is indeed very useful.

However, you could argue that Pascal’s Wager is incomplete, as it only gives you a choice between the Christian God and no higher power at all. What if the Norse God Odin is the highest power? A possible counter argument might be that all the different Gods that people believe are ultimately the same God, but that people experience and interpret him in different ways.

Besides, there does not even have to be a God to make religion help people. So what if there is no God? A religious person could still have gained a lot from his or her belief. Religion gives people a purpose in life, and makes them feel loved; important ingredients in what we call happiness. It is also the reason why Karl Marx claimed religion to be the opium of the people. Marx said that religion offers a false happiness, but how can it be false if you experience it? If religion makes someone’s life better, then what is false about it? And would not it be better with “false” happiness than real unhappiness? The material world offers few things that we have total control over and that we can be certain of, but we can control our spiritual belief (though atheists want to take away that only thing from people too). You can lose your job, your house, your family, your arms and legs, but you will always have your faith and hope.

No person, not even humans are of any importance in nature, as we are nothing in relation to infinity (the universe), but if you believe there is a God and that he loves you and cares about you, then you are important. Of course this is not the only thing that gives people a reason to live; many other things do as well. But what if your partner, friends and family for some reason leave you? What if you suddenly lose everything you have taken for granted? Would not it be nice to have some kind of backup? Someone who might not always like what you do, but who still loves you?

Personal thoughts

I do believe in both God and scientific theories like evolution and the Big Bang. I consider myself a Christian Lutheran pandeist. Being a pandeist means that I believe God is the first mover, who caused the Big Bang and now is omnipresent (present in all living beings and non-living things). In short, I believe that God created the universe, and that the universe – is God. I believe there is a reason behind our existence, the atheist view that the universe was created by chance and that life began was pure luck is not appealing to me. It actually scares me a bit, what would make life worth living if there was no reason for anything? That everything is just the result of chance or luck? So what if someone loves me if it ultimately is only the result of luck? Would life really be as nice as it is if the only purpose in life was to spread your genes? Is true happiness only about maximizing your dopamine levels? I think there is more to it. The atheist philosophy of life seems dull and boring to me, there is so much more that makes life worth living!

It is not like I go around thinking about God all day long, and I very rarely pray. But it helps me appreciate more things in life. The closest thing I have had to a religious experience was when I was watching an astronomy programme on TV. As said earlier, some scientists experience God by looking into science. This was exactly that kind of moment for me. My belief has also helped me understand the meaning of life is. It is to explore and enjoy myself, others and nature. It is meeting other people, having fun with them and loving them for what they are. For me this equals to loving and coming in contact with God, since he is present in everyone and the connections between people.

[1] (2008-05-14)

[2] (2008-05-14)

[3] (2008-05-14)



22 maj 2009

En man hittade en gång en kokong, en plats där fjärilen precis hade påbörjat den mödosamma kampen för att göra sig fri. Mannen satt fascinerad och betraktade detta naturens drama i flera timmar. Men det gick ett bra tag och ingenting hände på en lång, lång stund. Det verkade som att fjärilen inte hade några krafter kvar och att den omöjligt skulle kunna ta sig igenom den sista biten av kokongen. Mannen som studerade fjärilen ville så hemskt gärna hjälpa den kämpande fjärilen, så han hämtade en sax och klippte försiktigt upp den sista delen i kokongen som just hindrade fjärilen.

Nu var fjärilen fri och kunde enkelt frigöra sig. Men dess kropp var svullen och vingarna små och skrumpna. Mannen väntade och väntade därför på att få se vingarna bli större så att de kunde bära kroppen och fjärilen flyga iväg. Men så skedde inte. Fjärilen fortsatte att kravla på marken. Mannen hade tydligen inte förstått att kampen i kokongen var nödvändig för fjärilen. Genom kämpa så skulle vingarna växa sig starka så att fjärilen var redo att flyga när den blev fri.

Ibland önskar vi att Gud skulle låta oss gå genom livet helt utan att möta några svårigheter, men ett liv utan kamp skulle göra oss handikappade. Vi skulle aldrig bli så starka som vi kunde ha blivit och vi skulle då aldrig heller kunna flyga.