This past Wednesday morning, two heavily armed assassins burst into an editorial board meeting into the Charlie Hebdo’s Paris office and yelled “Allahu akbar”! (God is the greatest) then sprayed bullets across the second floor newsroom fleeing the scene, leaving 12 bodies behind. It would be the beginning of a violent rampage “in the name of God”.
So… Does God exist?
Since the dawn of time man has used reason to ponder this question. Throughout recorded history people have lived under some form of religious belief. Our historical record allows us to track the many gods and belief systems that have come and gone over time. In general, we can see that human beings have proclaimed to believe, either in a single God, or various gods or deities that bring meaning to spiritual quests and provide us with peace and/or hope throughout life. These belief systems also provide rules to live by and most offer punishment or rewards for our deeds.
How many people believe in God today? WIN/Gallup International’s Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism (2012) surveyed 57 countries and found that 13% of the population identified themselves as atheists, 23% identified as not religious (but not atheists), and 59% identified as religious.
Ontology is a discipline and field of study concerned with the nature of being and addresses topics including ‘why is there a God?’ This is a valuable question to consider when we ask if God exists. The question is did we invent deities to follow or do they actually exist with or without us?
To establish that God exists people have offered different ideas over the course of history. You might consider the ontological argument of Anselm of Aost (Saint Anselm of Canterbury) or the “Five Thomistic Ways” written by Thomas of Aquinas (Saint Thomas of Aquino). And of course, with compelling topics such as the existence of God, there are counter arguments refuting each proposition mentioned above. For example, the works of Karl Marx claimed that the existence of God is nothing but a deception in order to justify the domination of the upper classes over the lower. Or consider Ludwig Feuerbach who argued that God is merely a projection of man, so man is God. Or Friedrich Nietzsche’s writing that God is dead in “The Gay Science” (Die fröhliche Wissenschaft) and in his work “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” (Also Sprach Zarathustra).
Today, one of the most respected scientists of our time, theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, claims to have found evidence of a force that ‘governs everything’. A “cum laude” graduate of Harvard as the best student of physics in 1968, he followed that with a stint at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of Berkeley where he received his doctorate in physics, then to Princeton University, and is currently professor at City College of New York. Kaku has the gift of explaining science to lay people in an engaging way and is often called to appear as a speaker or on TV for just that reason.
Kaku is one of the creators and developers of String Theory and claims to have found evidence for the existence of intelligent design. Kaku theorized ‘primitive semi-radius tachyons’. The hypothetical tachyon or tachyonic particle moves faster than light and is able to ‘unstick’ matter or vacuum space between matter particles, leaving everything free from the influences of the surrounding universe. His critics and most physicists reason that faster-than-light particles cannot exist because they are not consistent with the known laws of physics. Kaku feels that others will change their beliefs as we learn more over time and states:
“I have concluded that we are in a world made by rules created by intelligence. Believe me; everything that we call chance today won’t make sense anymore. To me it is clear that we exist in a plan which is governed by rules that were created and shaped by a universal intelligence and not by chance.”
So, where are we now and what have we learned over time? We can review the earliest religious beliefs and see how knowledge and science have changed us. We no longer believe that the sun and the moon are gods, or that the Earth is flat or that beyond the horizon lies a great abyss inhabited by mythological creatures. We also agree that the Earth is not the center of the universe. Overall, we have made significant progress through the hundreds of thousands of advances in the field of science. Nevertheless, when it comes to religion and religious tolerance, we are standing motionless as we were a hundred or two thousand and fourteen years ago. Meanwhile, oceans of blood have been spilled in “the name of God”.
There are examples by the thousands of events that have taken place in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, America or Asia and it does not seem to matter if it was through Buddhism, Taoism, Shinto, Islam or Catholicism, just as it does not seem to matter whether we are referring to the Middle Ages with the Crusades or the conquest of America by imposing upon the conquered natives the religion of the victor. Unfortunately, today, in the XXI century we read, hear and, what is ever worse, we find ourselves face to face with religious fundamentalists such as the ones in France, that still interpret their “sacred writings” in their own way… and so we find intolerant Catholics who condemn Protestantism, Christian groups who hide behind their religion to attack Judaism using an ancient, false and dishonest premise that claims they crucified Jesus Christ. So too, Jews against Muslims, who also in its radical wing have declared a “holy war to defend and propagate Islam by force if necessary “… and as the circle has neither beginning nor end, we return to the starting point.
In most of the stories of the gods, from Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, India, the Central Andes, Norte Chico or Mesoamerica, and in the Judeo-Christian and Muslim tradition, there is one factor in common: The deities came to earth and then disappeared. Some left without a trace or hint of their destination, but others left with a promise, a promise that one day they would return. We would have to ask ourselves… Have we made any progress? Have we not learned anything…?
If they do return, what will they find…? What will they think of us?
José Eugenio Palomeque-Urioste/ email@example.com
Jan-09-´14 / Mérida Yucatan, Mexico,
José Eugenio Palomeque-Urioste is a Business Intelligence professional in the area of Research and Development. He began his training process in mass media writing scripts for radio programs, commercials and advertising campaigns. Since then, he has written for newspapers, magazines and mass media in Mexico and the United States, ranging from the professional to the editorial and has written 3 fiction novels that have been presented in numerous forums and literary competitions causing much controversy as to its content.
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