oh all right, i'm bored and not sleepy yet and its a sunday night:
tim, you're a real true believer eh? I get the feeling you're in the minority here, but kudos for speaking your mind, which is never easy to do especially when one is obviously outnumbered.
first some disclosures: count me as an apathetic agnostic (o2dazone, i'd like to join your brother's friend's group! any web address?). i'm indifferent about whether or not god exists, since I believe it cant be shown one way or another.
now one response and some questions:
Science asks can you prove it, and you just said you can't prove the Big Bang? How's that Scientific?
two reponses off top of head: a) how is it religious? on what grounds are you inserting religion in there if you think its not scientific? why do you think it has to be one or the other? b) its scientific because science isnt just about proof (a common misunderstanding esp by religious folk); science is primarily about theory
- testable theory (the 'testable' is what makes it different from mere belief or pure faith). Testable doesnt mean proveable; it merely means you can set up an experiment (that follows the regular testable laws of math or the regular testable laws of the physical material universe) to test for it, testable by anyone, anywhere (it assumes no one has priveleged secret information, too, therefore; the results must be both demonstrable and repeatable). All these things are what make up science and the experimental method and all these things constitute the domain of authority that science has held since the enlightenment.
Whats more, when confronted with something that isnt testable, where one only has a theory (derived from available but incomplete evidence), a big part of the scientific method is the discipline to suspend a conclusion if one does not have the ability to test or know. Thats a perfectly valid 'scientific' position to hold. Its the space of scientific theory.
So just because something is not conclusively proveable, that doesnt automatically mean that that is the space of faith.
Its the space of agnosticism, for instance.
So its valid to theorize and suspend judgement within the realm of science. What this does is it brings up other, to me more interesting, questions. The question of whether or not god 'exists' becomes moot, because its not testable, though one can make "a strong case" for non-existence. (Which is sort of what Hume said. He said we cant "know" that the sun will rise tomorrow. But we can be reasonably certain based on past performance, and thats a deduction we can make based on available evidence, its not an assumption pulled simply "out of the air").
So the question of god's 'existence' is moot, from a scientific point of view, and probably a strong case can be made for non-existence, in this humean sense. But for me, the more interesting questions really are not whether or not god exists, but things like "what kind
of god" do you believe in? Or for atheists, what kind
That takes us into a space that most strong believers and most strong atheists dont like to go, for some reason.
of belief/unbelief is what is decisive and relevant, if you ask me.
Because if you believe in an avenging monotheistic jealous god, by golly, those folks have done as much brutal damage as any atheist communist.
On the other hand, you have atheistic humanists who have done a lot of constructive and beneficial work by extending their sympathy and investment to other living beings and helped develop institutions and ideas of coexistence and ecology. And you also have a lot of religious folk who have abandoned the jealous church/mosque and said 'live and let live'.
THey've done a lot of good work too, but they've abandoned evangelicalism havent they. And you have buddhists and quakers and confucians and so forth outside the monotheistic tradition who have long histories of religious tolerance and coexistence. Gandhi was a hindu, drawing on hinduism's non-dualist philosophical traditions. Decent folk turn up nearly everywhere, from nearly any tradition, religious or atheist or anywhere in between.
So I dont particularly care if god exists, nor do I care if the person i'm dealing with believes or doesnt believe. Its what you do on that basis, which matters. And a lot of that has to do with how you imagine your place in the world (vis-a-vis others). If you think you or your particular tradition (atheist or religious) has a total monopoly on the Good, then the rest of us are probably in trouble.