I’m currently reading Dennis Praeger’s Rational Bible series.
As an atheist, I have an issue with the concept of God. Even though I used to believe in it as a child and teenager, it stemmed more from the desire for stability than as an outcome of evidence or reason. That’s how I view faith, a desire for stability. A necessary drive in a human mind, which ventures far and wide in its exploration and needs a stable base to return to.
The existence of God is low resolution thinking, in my opinion. It suits people who don’t want to – or can’t afford to – think too hard about how the world works. It’s helpful to just have a set of rules to follow. Faith provides a certainty upon which an individual can build a life in which he can have a firm foundation to then venture into uncertainty. If every individual in a society started from zero, we wouldn’t go past deciding not to kill each other by the end of our life, and none of the progress and human creation would be possible.
It’s like in training – you can’t shoot a cannon out of a canoe, they say. We create tension and stability in the legs when we lock out a snatch. We plant the feet firmly when we want to transmit power from the hips through the core into the shoulders and into the object. Is this the same, but intellectually?
Because the rationale that Dennis Praeger provides reminds me of rationale I heard in the religious school. It’s simplistic and unsatisfying. It’s there to pacify the inquisitive mind of a child but not there to dig deep for the actual understanding of how the world works. It’s purpose, in other words, isn’t the truth, but faith.
When seeking truth, one has to be able to exist on a shaky ground. Because truth isn’t always as easy to see as interpreting someone’s book.
It’s also intellectually lazy beyond belief. To take a book, call it The Book, and then apply all your intellect to studying it. That’s narrow. And it’s wrong.
You study life and truth not through books alone, and especially not through just one book, but through observing the world, making notes, talking to people, including reading their books, creating hypothesis, living them out, being proven wrong. Yes, there needs to be a record of all the wisdom you have collected, and it needs to be added to the one of generations before you. Humans, after all are a COMMUNAL LEARNING SPECIES.
So perhaps this God, is a symbol, a representation in the human brain, of the human ultimate survival tool – communal learning. God is the depository of all the learning of generations from which each new human can begin, and to which it can return as solid ground in times of doubt and uncertainty. Because uncertainty is essential for further learning and exploration. And being able to tolerate uncertainty is a strength that some cultivate, and others don’t. Or a predisposition that some have a lot of and others don’t have much.
There are two competing forces in a human body – mobility and stability. Both are needed for movement, but more of one means less of the other. A hip is a stable joint but it’s less mobile than the shoulder. A shoulder is a mobile joint, but to be that, it’s also less stable than the hip. The serve different functions in the human physical survival. What makes the inherently relatively unstable shoulder more stable is well balanced muscle of the rotator cuff, many little muscles, each not very strong. Because if one becomes too much stronger than others, it’ll throw this unstable joint out. The purpose of the shoulder isn’t to generate power, but to transmit it by being a whip lash.
What makes the relatively stable hip joint able to produce so much force? It’s relative stability. The large muscles of the hip can be so large because applying force through this joint isn’t going to dislocate it easily.
That’s why a snatch or a jerk are far more in line with the function of the shoulder than a press. We use shoulder like a slingshot and stabilize at the top, rather than press with it. Why press with such a small muscle and unstable joint when you have legs? By the same token, we don’t use the hip as a slingshot. Unless we’re doing gymnastics, where everything is in reverse, because it’s more reminiscent of our tree-swinging ancestral past. In gymnastics, we want to have a very stable shoulder – that’s why gymnasts have such powerfully built shoulders, men and women alike. And we want to have a relatively more mobile hip, and that’s why gymnasts continuously stretch their lower body.
Notice that gymnasts, at least male gymnasts who don’t do a floor routine, do not do much pressing through the legs, I.e. They do not perform squats and lunges – they do more of that with their arms, and their legs are used as slingshot and a ‘tail’ to produce momentum. They keep the legs straight. Female gymnasts of course, rely more on legs, and perhaps that’s why it’s easier for female gymnasts to transition into lifting.
Males press with their shoulders more than females, whose shoulders are weaker, and who rely on their legs more. Males AND females can of course do both, but males are relatively more predisposed to pressing and pulling with their upper body aka shoulder joint than females. Males are more physical in general. Due to different evolutionary purposes between the sexes.
Going back to God, could it be that the God setting in the human brain provides the stability needed to exert intellectual force on the world. If a human lives in uncertainty about its purpose and the rules governing it’s society, it would be constantly preoccupied with seeking that stability. Just like a body, when unstable (think about a juggler standing on a wobble board) is unable to produce force.
And just like a body that’s become too weak from sitting down, and having lost stability in the hips and shoulders, have tightened up the muscles in search of that stability, even if it means that the mobility, and thus performance, is vastly reduced. The body seeks stability. They mind must do the same.
Otherwise the mind is doomed to never stray past its front porch in its explorations, constantly navel gazing and trying to find a stable base from which to launch and to which to return.
God is a stabilizer. And human mind without a stabilizer is as potentially obsessed with itself and it’s elusive stability, as weak and tight and unable to produce force, as a human body. It flails like a baby, erratic, unfocused and wasteful in its movements.
So that’s why a human mind needs faith and God. That’s why my own endlessly inquisitive mind has always felt quite restful in the notion of a concentrated human wisdom that is presented as God, even though it couldn’t accept the supernatural element on rational ground.