By: Dr Irengbam Mohendra Singh
My journey of hopes and dreams of finding a God fell in ruins around me. It was like the Spanish conquistadors of the sixteenth century, who set off to find El Dorado – the mystic city of gold in South America. They never found it.
It had perhaps, been started upon false tracts. What began as a noble spiritual journey ended in the calm realisation that there cannot be a God
St Augustine’s journey to find God in his young adulthood ended in exhausted despair. He reports: “I had lost all hope of discovering the truth.” In the end he said God found him.
I may perhaps, be the first Meitei who set off on a journey to find God, any God. In the last leg of my journey of faith I came to perceive that life is not a journey towards God. As I wrote in my book – My Search for God, published in 2003.
The core of religion is God, the provider and moral keeper of suffering humanity. Philosophy plus God is religion. The English word “God” is used by multiple religions as a noun to refer to different deities.
The God who is above scientific thinking and commands religious and political adherence to him and to whom we must pay our gratitude and personal tributes for our proud civilisations, rules humanity from a safe place in Heaven – the eclectic choice for the spiritual philosophers.
I am not a philosopher, nor am I a theologian, nor an atheist. I was simply investing myself into finding a rational view of the concept of God in the light of new scientific discoveries.
‘Brevity is the soul wit’. I will be brief. For a start, I have travailed with the paradigm of God and his existence with such logical arguments in its favour as previously accepted by theologians.
The monotheist Abrahmic faiths – Jewish, Christian and Muslim religions still believe that God created human beings in the Garden of Eden (The Bible Genesis 2:8-14). The 2nd century Christians identified the place, located by the River Euphrates in Iraq, just west of the border between Iraq and Iran and just above the northern shore of the Persian Gulf.
But the present consensus among the palaeontologists and biologists is that human beings evolved through natural processes. The birthplace of humankind, according to the current consensus focuses on North East Africa.
Evolution means there has been ‘a change through time’ in certain lines of organisms giving rise to other lines or groups called macroevolution. The organisms do undergo changes during their lifespan, called microevolution.
While there is still a conflict between human evolution by natural processes, and human creation by God, evolution has now a strong standing power. It has been progressively accepted by researchers, following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge, conducted independently.
Even Pope John Paul II issued a message to the Pontifical Academy of Science, reaffirming the Roman Catholic Church’s long-standing position on evolution: that it does not necessarily
conflict with Christianity.
While there is no evidence for the existence of God there has been no attempt by the theologians to prove that there is a God or the validity of religion. Still there is belief that the Judeo-Christian God created this earth and everything in it.
A book appealing to Christians to accept as a proven fact the Darwinian theory of evolution, titled The Language of God, was published in 2006 by well-known genetic scientist Francis S. Collins, himself a believing non-Catholic Christian.
In his book Dr. Collins de¬clares that all living organisms have evolved from species to species by means of random change and natural selection without any intervention by God.
That human beings have evolved from lower animals and have not been created by a God has been proven by scientific methods, 150 years after Darwin’s hypothesis of evolution.
A scientific method is the process of proposing a hypothesis, and then testing its accuracy by collecting data on events the hypothesis predicts. If the predictions match the new data the
hypothesis is supported. Generally the best supported hypothesis is considered correct.
Evolution is the result of the frequency of the appearance of alleles in a population of organisms that changes over time. The alleles are the pieces of DNA that cause a particular trait eg “blue eyes” or “flat nose”.
My belief is that evolution and religion do not always contradict with each other except that the literal interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis in the Bible is unscientific and therefore unacceptable to students of evolution. They are not provable like gravity or electricity.
A religious belief can not be tested scientifically as there are no empirical tests that give different results whether the belief is true or not. Religion usually presupposes a driving force – an intelligent designer. This intelligent being is not always predictable and thus experiments judging religious beliefs cannot have predictable results.
Different religions have different names of God. For example: the Meitei Sanamahi religion has Tengbanba Mapu (Lord of the universe). The question whether different names used by different religions are equivalent has been raised and discussed.
Correlation between various theories and interpretations of the name of God, used to signify a monotheistic or ultimate Supreme Being from which all other divine attributes derive, has been a subject of ecumenical discourse between Eastern and Western scholars for over two centuries.
Many of the world’s religions are based on ‘revelations’ eg the final book of the New Testament; Krishna’s revelation in the Gita; Mohammad’s revelation in the Koran; or Yahweh’s in Torah. Usually these predictions or prophesies can not always be verified.
American creationists are forever trying to build up Christian beliefs around scientific principles. But the belief is no more a fact than painting a brick with gold paint makes it a bar of gold.
American creationists are now infiltrating US geology. They are ridiculously claiming that the Grand Canyon in Arizona was created by Noah’s Flood (Bible).
The Biblical narrative is that God became aggrieved when he saw that the earth was polluted by wickedness. He commanded Noah to build an Ark (a vessel) to save himself, his family and the world’s animals before he sent a Great Flood to cleanse the wickedness.
What is more ludicrous is that the biblical literalists continue to explore the mountains of Ararat in present-day Turkey where the Bible says the Ark came to rest, in search of archaeological remnants of the vessel, without success.
I have just been to see the Grand Canyon in Arizona. It is 433 Km (277m) long and 1.6 km (1m) deep gorge. It was formed during the six mullion years of geological activity and erosion by the Colorado River on the tectonically upraised earth’s crust.
In my search for God on the principle of free enquiry and with scientific method, the biological science began casting doubts and created difficulties for a teleological view.
I am an agnostic – a believer in the practicality of science. I look the universe in the face with an open mind for conviction. Historically, agnosticism does not merely mean a suspension of judgement. Rather it means intellectual justification for a discard of theology.
Agnosticism rose in the West after the Industrial Revolution as a by-product of the rise in the standard of living measured by GDP and increase in the Human Development Index, measured by longevity, years of education of a typical citizen.
Thomas Huxley in 1869 invented the word ‘Agnosticism’ but it took twenty years for him to openly write his essay entitled – Agnosticism. Agnostic is anti-Gnostic. Gnostic is a believer in the intuitive spiritual knowledge (of God).
An atheist is one who affirms that there is no God but he can not make a dogmatic statement on God’s non-existence. Many famous intellectuals such as George Bernard Shaw, Wordsworth, Shelley and Byron were atheists.
Atheism reared its head in 1811 when Percy Shelley (1792-1822), friend of Byron, wrote a pamphlet – The Necessity of Atheism as an undergraduate at the University College, Oxford. He was expelled from the University. Shelley argued about the development of a distinction between the workings of reason and imagination. He rejected revealed religion and its dogmas.
Many religions have different ideas of what God is and there is a disagreement whether God is male, female or neuter (Islam). The existence or non-existence of a God or Gods is a matter of faith. Our glimpse of God in this world and the next is hierarchical and ordered, and the meaning of the term religion has no single definition.
Every man should be able to give a reason for the faith that is in him. I know reality can not always been proved by logic, as logic does not always preserve the truth, It simply gives the idea about the subject matter.
And this article is my idea. Unlike St Augustine, God has not found me yet.
The writer is based in the UK