02.24.2013 11:25 AM

Does God exist? A daughter’s view (updated)

I wanted my daughter to go to Mass with me. Here, fittingly for modern times, is our text exchange.




UPDATE: She came in at the end of the Mass. Wow.


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    Boris Kicks says:

    Of course, science also tells us that beings didn’t just pop into existence spontaneously. It also explains the mechanics for how it actually happens quite elegantly.

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      Swervin' Merv says:

      Does Warren also believe that a complex thing like the Liberal Party of Canada could not have evolved into existence and therefore must be divinely destined?

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    John Matheson says:

    A bunch of neural resources starting from an internal word consisting of three letters (G,O,D) (which cannot be said not to exist, or you would not have recognized it), plus everything associated with it in a person’s conception of what that word means, is a complex subsystem within the brain. Like everything else in the body, it needs sustenance to survive. Thus anyone can say as a matter of fact: “There is a living God within me”. Whatever it is out there, we can never really know. But if God exists within us as matter of fact, God may exist elsewhere.

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      Phil Terrell says:

      John, I think rather than present a cogent argument for the existence of God you’ve merely pointed out why god is a cognitively meaningless term. That being the case, then theological noncognitivism is the most rational position, not deism, pantheism, and certainly not some variant of Christianity. No one can prove or disprove the existence of something that is undefined since it has no tangible properties or characteristics. However that proves only the ambiguity of the proposition, not the veracity. Equivocation is a common logical fallacy employed by enlightened theists that capitalizes on this ambiguity. Generally starts with the proposition there could be a God, whose properties and characteristics are undefined, then somehow segues from the proposition that something may exist to the proposition that [insert god/deity] exists. Anything we imagine could exist, may exist, but this isn’t a meaningful threshold on which to base a rational decision. There could be a lion in my closet – not much of a chance of course, but it is possible. This doesn’t mean I should go to work naked.

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    Redina says:

    Warren, I am glad that you are keeping at it and it is nice to see that she came at the end of Mass. We all struggle with our beliefs – the focus on the institutional church and its problems often distracts us from God’s message. Mass helps us celebrate together as a community supporting one another on our journey. Hopefully she will keep that in mind! Good job Warren!

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    Ian says:

    It shouldn’t matter whether there is a god or not.

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    Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Is there intelligence behind the Big Bang and all that followed, including evolution? Is that God? If God exists, one would think that communion with God would be a two-way street — as John Matheson said, God would communicate with us from within while we would communicate with God by other manifestations of our belief system.

    It is not important what I believe. What is crucial is what each individual on the planet believes.

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    Bruce the painter says:

    Where else do you get glimpses of real-life existential discussions like this. I love this site. My son was being bullied at school and he asked our priest “where was God when that kid was picking on my?” Priest: “he was in your fist – why didn’t you use it?”

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    Caspar Sinnige says:

    I had trouble figuring out which was the smart kid and which was the dad.
    Either the kid is reading science, which is good, or the dad is not . . .
    PS. Nice fudge of the old ontological argument, John.

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    bigcitylib says:

    Hang tough kid. Your old man’s nuts.

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      Warren says:

      There’s scientific evidence for that, too.

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    patrick says:

    There is no god.
    From the day that genetic quirk enabled our species to ask who, what, where, when and why our brains have been trying to answer those questions. When our understanding of the world was based on magic “God” provided safe and easy answers. Of course there have always been those who have known better but within the context of the times those voices were either ignored or silent since there weren’t answers for who, what, where, when and why.
    Then science started to fill the void and not just with answers based on “faith” but provable answers that can be tested and retested.
    Evolution and physics are the destroyers of the deity fantasy for it answers all our basic questions and does something else – it shows how our existence is magical.
    With a God we are a whim, a cosmic fart done by a rather petty and petulant deity who needs constant reinforcement that he is adored. An Odin, a Yahweh, an Isis, a magical Mr. Magoo who can create a cosmos here can do one there and there and there at his negligent pleasure. We are nothing special. A test tube culture in a field of millions of test tubes created by a sad creature to make himself feel good.
    With science, with reality, our existence becomes precious and unique. We, our consciousness is the genesis of just the right time and location that has enabled us to become aware of our surroundings. On a hunk of rock, in a minor little solar system, we have evolved to the point where we can be overwhelmed by our cosmic insignificance and realize that we are fortunate to know it.
    We are special because we exist, not because we are created.
    As for the morals, species don’t kill each other arbitrarily, it’s inefficient and self defeating. Over time, once again dealing with the who, what, where and why, we defined our actions and behaviours, some inherent and some chosen, as being moral or immoral. Once we became conscious of our actions we had a choice of how to behave. Our morals or lack of them are intrinsic not imposed and we are responsible for our choices.
    The claim that without God we would have no morals is absurd. I would argue that beyond everything else our ability to create the concept of “morality or ethics” is what truly defines us as human. We can make a choice and that choice is the true definition of the “self”. Where we are born, who we love, our politics are minor fashions that are great for choosing sports teams and clothing but are meaningless in comparison to our ability to chose to be, or not be, moral and ethical. Morals makes us human.
    As for religion itself, my belief that it is a comfortable crutch has slowly given way to the belief that it is a dead weight on our social development.
    Religion, beyond the fiction of a God and a rosy after life, teaches idolatry and a belief in magic. So our leaders orate bombastically and drape themselves in icons of greatness with self served medals and flags and promise miracle solutions because they know this works. With these trinkets of faith we are sold a bill of goods time after time by cynics and opportunists who exploit our conditioning for their lust for power.
    This is how tyrants and incompetents get swept into power by slogans, rampant nationalism and rallies. We are conditioned to “believe”, not understand.

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    Monica says:

    Your daughter’s a smart person.

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    P.Z. says:

    Good on you for not giving up. I’d suggest reading and sharing the ideas in Dr. Peter Kreeft’s writing on the problem of evil: http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0019.html

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    patrick Deberg says:

    Who knows the heart of God?

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    GPAlta says:

    Science, in point of fact, does not tell us that beings as complex as us (not to mention all of the time, space, matter, energy, etc, of the universe) could not have happened spontaneously. It tells us that it is unlikely that we could have happened spontaneously, but that it is possible that it did happen spontaneously.

    The next question is this: what is more likely- something as complex as us happening spontaneously, which we already know to be possible, OR, something infinitely more complex than us (God) existing at all?

    If science actually did tell us that beings as complex as us could not have happened spontaneously (which it does not), it would then also tell us that a being so much more complex than us couldn’t have happened spontaneously either. That is only fair, isn’t it? So the creationists among us should be demanding that another creator of God exist to explain how God was created, because surely God would require an intelligent designer, how else could s/he exist? It is the creationists who are the ones who can only imagine one source for anything, so how is it that they don’t apply the same logic to God?

    Luckily for atheists and non-atheists alike, science does not tell us a single thing about the existence or non-existence of God. That is why it is called faith.

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      GPAlta says:

      Correction, I meant to say in the last sentence of the first paragraph “It tells us that it is unlikely that we WOULD have happened spontaneously, but that it is possible that we did”

      As amazingly unlikely as our natural origins are, a natural origin is an infinitely more simple and elegant model for our origins than is the infinitely more complex and complicated model that requires somehow explaining the presence of God– if we can’t even explain ourselves, how could we explain him/her.

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    John says:


    Its all faith based isn’t it? I mean I’ve seen some very good arguements, but I must admit I always find its interesting how verbose these arguments get when a lot of it could be tore down to simple plain text. In my opinion god is simply about faith, I’m not a hardcroe believe that god moves stuff out of the way for you, in fact I don’t presume that I know what some being that apparently spawned our race and used to speak directly to us has in mind. I try not to assume that I could wrap my head around what that being would be thinking. Ultimately is just which faith you have, science has a good faith structure and so naturally a lot of people bank on that, but there are many instances where even science falls down, Godel gave some good examples of where acts of faith were required for mathamatical formula to work. As far as God the whole situation ends with faith, I understand thats a tough pill to swallow and don’t expect everyone willing to take it. With science it ends with proof/observation, most folks don’t trace the origins of sciences “proof” far enough back to something there is no proof of, but their are plenty of examples where the case is exactly that. Thats to say nothing about the validity of the observational method your using either, which could also be flawed aswell.

    Just a thought.

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    Philippe says:

    Smart kid.

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    Chubsy Ubsy says:

    God speaks through Brian Wilson. i.e. `God Only Knows`and `That`s Why God Made The Radio`. Turn her on to The Beach Boys, Warren. 🙂

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