Believing in God through Analogy

Sometimes I wonder why humans are so obsessed with pushing the envelope. Do we really need cars like this? Will our kids survive without this car? Yes.

But I’ve realized something else — much of how we learn is through analogy. We relate new information to principles and concepts that we already understand. So even though this car (and many other technologies) may not be necessary, they increase the number of things we can draw analogies from.

That’s probably the point of human curiosity — to aid in our understanding of the world.

What I want to talk about is how analogy can help us believe in God. I want to preface by saying that I was raised a Christian, and I understand that many of our beliefs as humans stem from our upbringing.

I listened to a talk by Richard Dawkins, where he made a good point, and then followed it up with what I believe is a wrong and misguided point.

He stated that it is up to the Creationist/Christian to prove that their is a God, rather than the Atheist to prove that there is not a God.

I think this is the good point. If I’m going to say something, I should be able to back it up.

He then went on to make his second point (the one I disagree with) by giving an example, creating a scenario similar to the following:

  • I, Brad Goldsberry could state that their is a coffee cup orbiting Saturn. It is not up to Richard Dawkins to prove that there is not a coffee cup in orbit around Saturn, it is up to me to prove that there is a coffee cup going around Saturn.

This makes sense. If I tell you there is a coffee cup going around Saturn, then I should have to prove it.

By the same logic (according to Dawkins), if I state their is a God that created our existence, then I should need to prove it.

Why does Dawkins choose to relate a coffee cup, to the God of the universe and creation of all that we know? This seems ridiculous.

An analogy is a similarity between like features of two things, on which a comparison may be based. It seems like Dawkins just doesn’t believe in God, and uses a far-stretch of an analogy to try and confirm his already-held conception that God doesn’t exist.

(The floating coffee cup was not an original idea of Dawkins — it was coined as Russel’s teapot by an early 20th century philosopher. I’ll still just refer to Dawkins though, since he used the same analogy in the video I watched.)

What if we replace Dawkins analogy with an analogy that I believe makes more sense. (Hopefully in doing this, you don’t think I am confirming my already-held beliefs that there is a God that created me and this world.)

So finally, back to the car in the beginning.

The analogy I want to create is one from the existence of that car, to the existence of ourselves and this world.

If I told Richard Dawkins that somebody created that car, should I need to prove it? Or should he need to prove that it created itself?

Of course I realize that this is not a perfect analogy either, as if we really wanted to, we could trace our car back to its roots. But in the future, when robots are creating robots, which then create cars, and humans are further removed from the equation, we will still know that a human was behind the design of cars, right? And that the evolution of cars was guided by humans, right?

In the future, as more of our lives becomes automated, it will be harder to trace our car back to the original creator, but in 1 million years, in 1 million “parallel universes”, can we really believe that the car pictured above will just create itself?

And if we can’t do that for the car, which is just a small part of the world we live in, then how can we hold those beliefs for the entire Earth, or for our own selves?

How many of us have really tried to trace back the existence of God and Jesus? I understand that we all don’t have time to do this, just like we all don’t have time to trace back to the creation of our car, but that doesn’t mean we just assume our cars created themselves from nothing.

The car is just an analogy — something we as humans can wrap our heads around. But I believe the existence of a complex object (car) is a better analogy to the existence of a complex object (humans, Earth, everything) than is an arbitrary object performing an arbitrary task (coffee cup circling Saturn).

Since we’re humans, we probably think we are the end of the line. Just like an ant probably thinks it is the end of the line, and has no concept for humans. We are limited by our own interaction with the world.

One logical point is that if God created the Universe, then what created God? I don’t know. But what I do know is that I/we don’t know everything. Ants probably think they understand the world, just like we do. But their model of the world is likely much different than ours. So although I/we can’t explain what created God, I trust that God knows more than I do.

Please let me know if you think this is a copout, as I definitely don’t have all the answers either.

It doesn’t appear that God is going to write us all letters to answer these questions. If he did, we wouldn’t believe them anyway. But I don’t need a letter to know my car was created by a human, and I don’t need a letter to know my existence was created by God.

I’d like to conclude by addressing the point of “So what? Whether my car was created by a human or not, it’s still just a car. And whether I was created by God or not, I’m still a human.” My response to that is that the car created by a human was built for a purpose — to transport.

The car that randomly assembled itself has no purpose, it just happened. I don’t know if this is my bias from growing up Christian, but I can’t understand a life without purpose. To relate to the analogy I have been using, I can’t picture a world where everything we use and rely upon just randomly made itself.

And since we didn’t build ourselves, we can’t be sure of our purpose. But you can infer a car’s purpose by studying it’s engine, noticing it’s tires, etc. And I think you can infer our purpose by noticing our propensity to love, connect with each other, and help each other (among many other things).

In the future I really want to learn more about different religions, as this doesn’t really address the difference. But for now I just wanted to share my thoughts. I encourage anybody to tell me where I am subconsciously favoring my own beliefs, and present any different ways of thinking about this! If you want to continue this conversation in any way, my email is me@bradgoldsberry.me — I’d love to talk!