God: Why argue?

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (sentience@pobox.com)
Thu, 25 Feb 1999 14:45:21 -0600

Questions like "Is there a God?" are totally irrelevant. Under all circumstances. Even if you're debating whether a particular religion is correct.

Maybe the Reality has a "cockpit" that was either pre-occupied or which the first Singularity-generating race climbed into. I cannot think of any practical choice that binds to exactly this question rather than a general version of it, i.e. "Does any entity exist having the power to do X".

Atheists who try to "prove" the nonexistence of God are simply being silly. Not because they're trying to prove a negative, either. Finding or creating God is like inventing antigravity. Maybe God doesn't exist and you can't make one. But we're going to keep trying forever, because it would be so damn useful.

If some religious authority decided that "Science will never equal (the powers we have attributed to) God", you'd be the first to object to the idea that some theologian's limited imagination constitutes an ultimate limit on sentient life. Likewise, just because you personally don't know how to make a God doesn't mean it's impossible.

Romanticizing this fact, or romanticizing God, are equally silly.

Most real arguments focus on the character of God; would an immortal, un-evolved, omnipotent, ultraintelligent entity do X? An atheist has exactly one argument: "Occam's Razor makes it easier for me to assume that your religion was invented by humans." Stick to it.

        sentience@pobox.com         Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Disclaimer:  Unless otherwise specified, I'm not telling you
everything I think I know.