In The Bottomline episode aired last February 4, Red Tani agreed with Boy Abunda that no one actually wins in debates on the existence of God. And I concur because the god concept has too many facets lumped together and discussions often shift from one facet to another.
For example, in order to prove the existence of God (or at least the high probability thereof), apologists like William Lane Craig put forth logical arguments like First Cause and Fine-Tuning. Even granting that these are based on correct premises and sound reasoning, they only support the deistic concept of a generic creator that does not necessarily intervene in the affairs of the universe, while God with a capital “G” is a proper noun referring to the Judeo-Christian god who gave specific instructions on how to live our lives.
As such, I think what’s more important than the God/creator question is whether we have immortal souls, and especially if the welfare of our souls depends so much on us believing in God’s existence. Can the apologists offer evidence or even philosophical arguments for Heaven and Hell (as well as the entrance rules) that are at least as challenging to refute as the cosmological and teleological arguments?
Going back to Boy Abunda’s interview with Red Tani, I think it would have been more interesting if the discussion focused on secularism instead of atheism. As Red said, the only difference between believers and nonbelievers is their position on the God question, and this is really not a big deal because most of the day most believers act and make decisions without thinking of God, so belief (or nonbelief) does not necessarily dictate our actions, politics, or morality.
But if there is a specific god we are talking about, like the Roman Catholic god who abhors contraception, divorce, and gay marriage, then the issue is no longer about theism and atheism, but which religion or sect correctly represents God. And here the debate would degenerate into disarray because unlike the discussions on the existence of God where the contenders at least try to stick to the rules of logic in the absence of empirical evidence, different religions would simply attempt to ram their opposing “revealed” doctrines into each other’s throat.
While I do not mean to assert the logical positivist position that any unverified proposition is meaningless, being a freethinker compels me to require evidence that is more than circumstantial before accepting something as true. And such skepticism is one of the foundations of secularism, which is “a form of opinion which concerns itself only with questions the issues of which can be tested by the experience of this life.”
So going back to the question of souls and whether nonbelief or even doubt jeopardizes them, I think an even more important question would be, whose representation of God, assuming God exists, should we follow for the sake of our souls, assuming we have souls? And if we cannot figure that out, doesn’t this demand that we give precedence to our welfare in this life instead of denying ourselves carnal pleasures for the sake of some imaginable spiritual pleasures in the next life?
We really don’t know if there is an afterlife, and we have absolutely no idea how to secure our welfare in it – unless we seriously believe that the Bible is the true word of God (which is highly questionable given its circular claims) and that God revealed his will to certain individuals as claimed by the popes and some charismatic ministers (which is mere hearsay). All we really know about is the here and now, that there is real joy and real suffering in this world, and that we humans have the capacity to multiply this joy and reduce the suffering. Isn’t that a lot more important than trying to convince each other that there really is or isn’t a god?
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Image from Starmometer