Forum Question 

 If You Had Your Way, 
 Would There Be A God? 

December, 1998

    I appeared on the Rick Emerson show, a local radio talk show (is the word "appear" appropriate for radio?), and he asked me a real stumper of a question. I forgot exactly how he worded it, but basically, he wanted to know: If I had my way, would there be a god?

    After rehearsing in my mind how many qualifying questions I would have to ask in order to give an understandable reply, I resigned and said, "I don't know." Of course, the first counter-question would have to be: "Which god?" Certainly none that I have ever heard of.

    But the main point in approaching this question, for me, is the fact that I seek to find out what is and live with that, rather than wishing that the world would conform to my desires and ideals.

    I have since been pondering this question and that led me to wonder if a world where the supernatural existed would be superior to the one that is. Or, is this the best of all possible worlds?

    If anyone is still given to pretending, then pretend there was a god (any god; you can create your own, here), and tell us if that world would be better. Please give your make-believe god the benefit of the doubt when making your case; no fair pretending that there exists one of the volcano gods such as Jehovah of Allah.

    Cliff Walker
    "Positive Atheism" Magazine
    editor@positiveatheism.org

  • Answer this Question

LC:

Hello, Cliff

As for your questions about whether a world with the supernatural would be better than the world that is.

We already have that. It's called religion. It's called parapsychology. It's called conspiracy theory. It's called alien abduction, psychic friends and survivalists in the mountains. It's called make your fortune in six months or your money back. Can't get more supernatural than that!

The supernatural exists here and now. Or should I say the belief in the supernatural exists here and now, and it is the world that is.

Is it better to believe in the supernatural? I suppose it might be, if you are willing to resign responsibility for your decisions to færies, angels, gods, aliens, financial planners.

Best regards,
LC

Jyoti:

In other words you want me to become a minister. After all what the minister does is how god, the fiction of his imagination will save the world, save you from damnation. He imagines that the bible is the word of god and interprets how it will explain the bad state of the world as it exists today, to justify bible's contradictions, atrocities and obscenities, i.e., if you dare to question him. To be saved all you need to do is to believe me and open your wallets and check books when I pass the platter (so I can go on doing this for the rest of my life to live comfortably until I die of the venereal diseases I got from the beautiful women from my congregation, because my old fat ugly wife does not inspire me sexually anymore). And I will include your address in my database (so I can suck on your gullibility again and again).

Did I get your question right?

Dorman:

I think that one of the issues is that of a personal "GOD." That is, one god that is concerned with our own individual affairs either as a species or individuals. No case can be made for individual god -- that idea is anthropocentric.

It could be said that all matter and energy is god, but then there would be nothing like the concept of a god like any religion has. No revealed religion, just the properties that the scientific method shows matter and energy to have. The major difference between ourselves and others.

Would there be a God? I think what is meant is would there be something we would bow down without question. The answer is no.

Rob:

Answer should be: Absolutely, not! I have a brain and am able to think for myself. The last thing that I would ever want would be for some divine puppeteer to do my thinking for me or to have any influence or control over me.

Mary:

If there was a god who would protect me, my loved ones, and everyone else on earth, that would be marvelous. I'd love to see an end to the news stories in the paper and on tv about people who've been murdered or killed in accidents or by diseases. That would all certainly stop if my pretend god existed. And then no one would have to cry when someone died because we would all know that that person was going to heaven -- no loving god would send his/her children to fry ... the children would be forgiven no matter what and end up in heaven.

If a god ended up being someone like the bible said, watching over my every move and making sure I did the right thing or else suffer the consequences, I'd rather remain godless. I moved out of my mother's house for that reason -- I like being independent and I'm proud of the fact that I'm a good, moral person all on my own.

Ray:

[This] question strikes me as the very reason there have been so many gods in the past, someone had their way and foisted it off on the gullible. Science fiction creates gods today, and does a much better job of it that the ancients with their mystic scribbling. Would the world be a better place? -- how could it be, because Christianity has the ultimate message of love, peace and forgiveness and that has accomplished little in the real world.

Ray

Bob:

Cliff,

Here is a thought to ponder. According to Frijof Capra in The Turning Point the universe consists of energy. There are no itty-bitty particles, only energy. They call this reality the quantum space-time continuum. If this is true, we are necessarily part and parcel of it. So what is consciousness? I wonder if our individual sense of consciousness is our particular slice of the space-time continuum and I further wonder if we can merge with and emerge from the continuum at will. This would explain a lot of otherwise inexplicable phenomena such as the experience which some people claim to have had with a god. Years ago I was taught deep-muscle relaxation by a psychologist as a means of disposing of stress. I have been informed that this strictly secular activity is known to others as meditation. Well, the truth is, some mighty strange things can happen in a person's mind during this activity, like meeting with persons known and unknown, alive and dead, good and evil, which could be called self-induced illusion or could be called something else, heaven, hell, god, whatever, or it could be we are tapping into this energy field which is apparently the foundation of the universe. What do you think?

as ever,
Bob

Jessica:

I think it is too much for us to comprehend about god or life after death or anything of the sort. Who really knows what is real and what isn't. For all we know we could be someone's dream or someone's science project. I mean are we really real? Think about it. What if everything you believed in was false? It is really hard for me to think about your question because I don't know what to believe and I don't know. I hear so many different stories and some make sense and some don't. I believe a lot of religious beliefs are false such as the rapture and shit like that. I mean if there was a god and people that weren't saved would be damned to an eternity of hell and not be allowed into heaven wouldn't that make the devil more powerful than god? I mean 99 percent of the world wouldn't go to heaven or when the saved people were suppose to fly away when the rapture came about there would be a hell of a lot more people on earth than in heaven. I mean so much about religion doesn't make sense. I prefer to look at everything from a more open mind and not so close-minded as most religions and their beliefs. What is god really and what is religion? Also I this world is really horrible in certain ways such as poverty and murder and all sorts of sins. Since god is suppose to know everything why would he create and let us corrupt ourselves and why would he create the world and everything in it by destroying his creation with damning most people to hell and stuff like that. I don't know what to believe anymore and god just doesn't seem real to me anymore like he use to because it seems that my prayers are never answered and religious beliefs just don't make sense. Especially ones that tell you how to eat and to dress and crazy stuff like that. Religion is not suppose to be like a dictatorship.

I mean are we really real?

Sorry for rambling.
Thanks, Jessica

Short Graphic Rule

Cliff:

    If we aren't, then to whom did you address your response? The problem with defending solipsism is that you cannot even describe your theory without demonstrating that it is false -- or at least demonstrating that you don't really believe it!

Ted:

This is really what we (humankind) has done, isn't it? If I now had a choice about it I would much prefer not to have any (God). I would , I am sure, find myself in endless arguments with Him over His decisions, and would constantly be asking "Now why did You do that?" I am not good at just surrendering my own judgement to saying "I guess I just can't fathom your ways, but it must be okay because you're God! I haven't even learned to do that with my wife. I only see it making my life more complex and unhappy.

Michael:

I think the question needs more parameters: Is this god a creator, or just a supervisor/nanny? (I've often joked, looking at a beautiful woman or a magnificent mountain scene, that God is a superb architect but a miserable administrator.)

I'd want a creator-god to leave out the fleas, Democrats, salmonella, rats, humidity, taxes ... well, I already said Democrats. I'd want that creator-god to create with more foresight: Make his (or her) humans more kindly and innovative and gentle and artistic, and more-frequent readers and less-frequent TV watchers.

And I'd want the creator-god to give me a better metabolism so I could still eat chocolate but not be so fat.

Then this would be the best of all possible worlds.

Tim:

Hello Cliff!

That was an excellent question. But not the usual. No wonder you were unsure of how to respond. Now I wish someone would ask me, though. My answer:

If I had my way, yes, there would be a god who took care to see that no one ever came to harm, that everyone had enough to eat, and that those who undertook to harm others had their brains rewired so as to make them benevolent people. But, if this were true, we would already live in a very different world than that we see around us.

Best regards,

Tim Gorski, Pastor
The North Texas Church of Freethought
http://church.freethought.org

James:

Since radio characters do "appear" in your mind (sort of like god), "appear" is indeed an appropriate word for radio. To be strictly literal, "was a guest on," may be more accurate. However, I think I would say "appear."

Now, "If I had my way, would there be a god?" My first thot was, "what a silly question." But then I thot about it some more and decided that it is a silly question. I mean I would like to live forever in The Big Rock Candy Mountain with the people I love (or Hugh Hefner's mansion). I would like to believe in the god that pretty much everybody believes in. But ...

... if wishes were horses ...

PS: In rereading your question I detected a question that I didn't address in my first flippant answer. And it is, "Would an imagined world be better than the natural one?" In other words, "Would a world without pain be better than what we have now?" My still-flip answer is, "sure."

Debora:

I'll keep this short ... I don't believe in a "GOD"! Why does one being have to be superior than the other?

Maybe we are all one? :)

Have a good day!!

D.

Soraya:

I always want to answer your questions but I never have been good at putting my thoughts onto paper -- but for this one I think it deserves at least a try.

I cannot imagine anything better than our world. We may have troubles and we have no one but ourselves to blame but on the other side of the coin -- we have a world and a universe so wide and full that we can appreciate and marvel at. It is world where we have the power to wonder and explore: our minds, each other's minds, the universe. There are no answers unless we believe them, we find them. I would say that having a God would only make our lives less exciting, unanswerable questions would be automatically answered -- "It is God's will, God created it." We would no longer search for the beauty that is in each atom, each relationship. We are not a species that should be led like lambs in a herd. The greatest thing about an unanswered question, a puzzling prospect is that we hold the power of curiosity, the power to ponder and dig deeper to find the truth. I think that a world where a God would exist would take this away. We would lose what makes us human.

Nicole:

My answer is: NO WAY!

Janet:

July 31, 2000

Millions before me have designed a "god' and come up sorrowfully lacking and the debris left in their wake has been heartbreaking to multitudes.

"god" has always been mankind's interpretation of his world. What of the lowly ant? Your question might as well be put to his "civilization" as ours.

Ultimate reality is "god" -- the quest goes on.

It seems the more that truth is revealed thru the sciences, the more frightened the religious become -- to the point of suicidal determination to quench the human spirit no matter what the cost.

I do not understand such hatred -- yet that is what religion is...hatred of pleasure, of knowledge, of human kindness , clothed in the loving "word of god" -- and you ask me if I would make up a"god."

I would dare not.

Susan:

August 22, 2000

Actually You got me to thinking, if a person was left to themself with no one over them, how would they from the time they come to be growing up, act to respond to the things around them if they had no type of training at all and they were responsible for their own upbrining how would they go about living? What choices ould they choose to make etc.

Susan


Added: March 14, 2002

[unsigned]

March 14, 2002

Yes. If there was a god this world would be an infinitely better place. A personal god who cared for His or Her creation would be too wonderful to imagine: no war, famine, or disease. Imagine that!

Imagine a god who existed and did not hide Itself from us?

Of course I would reject any god who threatens people with eternal pain and torture.

Gregory

Short Graphic Rule

Cliff:


Added: March 15, 2002

Ned:

March 14, 2002

There will always be an inexhaustible supply of gods with new variants cropping up every day. I suppose that the question could be rephrased as "If god revealed himself to the satisfaction of you and everyone else, would you be pleased?"

I would, simply for the novelty of it, but I'd be scared witless too. I'd be delighted that all these factions of all our current religions would be brought to heel and stop fighting and persecuting. A true god would be undeniable, hard wired into our psyche, and not subject to or tolerant of interpretive analysis.

My primary reservation is "Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?" All powerful is real scary unless there is a benevolent streak or an apathetic streak a mile wide. A benevolent god could not be credible. History would be so much different if there had been a kindly god. An apathetic god, perhaps similar to an 18th century deist's god, would be a bit of a letdown because what would we do different?

I'll bet that some of your readers could pull the name of a truly tolerant and amiable god out of the hat -- there's 5,000 of them to choose from -- but the trend in gods seems to be bloodthirsty and vengeful creatures with no sense of the diversity of their people. Since we are postulating that there is a god, it would be prudent to assume that our god would be a general synopsis of all our previous stabs at describing him and his personality. He'll pick a chosen people, subjugate the rest, rule with an iron and hamfisted hand, and reintroduce sacrificial rituals. Ho Boy!

Ned Dibble

Material by Cliff Walker (including unsigned editorial commentary) is copyright ©1995-2006 by Cliff Walker. Each submission is copyrighted by its writer, who retains control of the work except that by submitting it to Positive Atheism, permission has been granted to use the material or an edited version: (1) on the Positive Atheism web site; (2) in Positive Atheism Magazine; (3) in subsequent works controlled by Cliff Walker or Positive Atheism Magazine (including published or posted compilations). Excerpts not exceeding 500 words are allowed provided the proper copyright notice is affixed. Other use requires permission; Positive Atheism will work to protect the rights of all who submit their writings to us.