The Unfathomable

M. E. Smith (
Tue, 2 Nov 1999 10:02:19 -0800 (PST)

Several Internet years ago, it only took being flamed a little bit for me to realize that the vocal and rabid atheists on this list would always dominate the list's atmosphere with regards to religious thought, and I accepted it as inevitable, even though I found their hostility strange, as if they personally had been stretched on the rack next to Galileo instead of growing up in societies where freethinkers have long been celebrated and in charge. (Anyone who does not admit this fact must be living in a cave without TV. The very existence and nature of the Internet is proof that the societies we live in are largely free.)

So I have remained on the sidelines watching yet another argument about religion wash over the list, until now.

Obviously, I am not the only one who is
frusted by those who seem to equate all
religious thought with fundamental
Christianity. Aarrgh! What century do
you think this

Look, you guys, I think it's safe to say we all know that evolutionary theory is correct, that our planet is millions of years old and was not created in seven days, and that
Christianity was largely made up by a Roman government committee hundreds of years
after the life of Jesus, if he ever really existed. We all know that there is no "God" in the sense of some huge all-powerful man with a beard who created us and gets upset when we have sex for any other reason than
procreation. Among intelligent people, which probably includes anyone on this list, these arguments have been won a long time ago. As Nietzche said; that God is dead.

The "God" that is harder to vanquish is the ineffable one that the mystics talk about, the one that is defined as undefinable. This "God" will never be disproven, for the same reason that a child can always say "Why?" to
whatever explanation you give him. Like
"infinity", this "God" is a symbol and a useful
meme. To get upset when this symbol is used is like getting upset when someone says
"infinity". If you're so lacking in a poetic sense
that you cannot appreciate this "God", that's no reason to verbally abuse those that do.
Would you insult Douglas Hofstadter when he uses the word "God" in this sense?

I don't find it hard to imagine an advanced SI with a brain the size of a planet thinking, analyzing, constructing and testing mental models, expending the energies of whole stars, for countless terateraflops, trying to understand the universe, why it's here, and ultimately giving up, realizing it'll never know, and at that moment feeling a great awe.

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M. E. Smith
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