moby-dick-(or-the-whale)-50
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PROJECT-G: LOOKING AHEAD

17 March 2007

In my previous rant, I spoke of the God of the gap; the well-known phenomenon that God is being driven further and further into the ever-decreasing amount of things we still can't yet explain. I argued that it was philosophically strange to believe in something when there was no reason to do so whatsoever outside of cultural benefits such as a feeling of community or a superstitious fear for retribution in some afterlife (which could also be taken as blackmail: believe in God or be tortured forever). That, however, belongs to the distinct realm of religion, rather than believing in God. They are two quite different things and I will try not to muddle the argument, by keeping them apart. Religion is a different beast altogether, that I might delve into at a later junction. For now, I would like to give you a theory of mine what might happen in the future as regards the strange behaviour of believing in a god.

Note that this is not what I think will happen, it is what I think could happen if all the planets are aligned and the tide is high and -well, you get the point.

The idea of the God of the gap leads us to an interesting notion: what if there are no more gaps left? What happens when science has unlocked all the mysteries of life and we understand, in the most plausible and likely of scenarios, that there's no mysterious force behind it that has created and directed everything from a cloud up high. From a personal standpoint, I can only hope that mankind is still alive at that time, and that we'll have given up believing in things without any good reason for it, but that's beside the point. What might happen?

It might not even have to get that far, actually. Even if there are still enough gaps left, it isn't unthinkable that the forthcoming theory might take place simply because the majority of people get tired of seeing God retreat, and adopt the following viewpoint: God is outside reality. If we are all so inclined to keep believing in God, then it is the only logical thing to believe outside of simply ceasing to believe. When God has no place to go to anymore, then he must be outside of reality. Call it an alternative dimension, or heaven, or beyond space and time: he is not in this universe. And he has no influence on us, because all wonders of the world are understood according to their natural processes.

Now, it is of course a slightly strange notion to keep believing in a god when everything or most of the important things have been explained in that way, but my idea isn't about metaphysics, it's about psychology. God exists outside of our existence. What would that do to the beliefs of the believers? It would cause them to adopt a viewpoint that is actually more like a philosophy than a belief. They understand that all the things in this world are not directly caused by God, nor does he have any influence on us. Praying takes on even more of a ritualistic expression (if it survives at all), and 'believing' in God becomes an almost academic feature; more concerned with the theory and the morality and history of it all than really Communicating with Him. God being outside of reality, it is understood that prayers are unheard and wonders impossible -because there's no link between us and Him. God might simply become a compulsory habit that glues people together. He is no longer a 'real' figure in everyday life, but rather an abstract notion or even a symbol of spirituality, an metaphore for our existence: evolution and life anthropomorphized.

It amuses me that one of the possible future roads of believing might be actually its return to whence it came: a philosophical idea. Unambitious and simple, and not worth fighting over. Of course, we haven't taken into account where religion fits in this, and as always when it is involved; little good will come of it. This pipe dream is then only an ideal situation ,should people absolutely insist on believing, that is. It might not be a particularly good or plausible theory, but then this is no scientific journal, and I'm not a sociologist. Still, it's interesting to ponder about where it's all going.

Roderick.