THE BLOG

Is God Overrated (And How Could We Know)?

01/11/2011 09:40 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

When I listed the 11 Most Overrated Things about the Decade, I should have remembered the old rule: don't argue about sex, politics or religion (or classic rock albums... but that was fine).

In particular, many people took great offense to what I wrote about The New Atheism, which was very cool in the past decade, and (in passing) the gay movement, which was cool the decade before. Believe it or not, no offense was meant. But may I ask that, if you want to comment (especially with rage), that you please read what I wrote? Properly.

It was only a paragraph. Still, it seems that many people didn't read it properly -- just as they claim I didn't read Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion" properly. (What does it mean to read that book "properly"? To be convinced unwaveringly by the arguments? What is it -- The New Testament or something?)

I'm sorry, but many born-again atheists I know did seem to have done it simply because it was "cool." Not all of them, of course. Sure, a few people have decided to become Atheists through their own accord. As one person says, "Atheists think for themselves." (Am I wrong, or does that person presume to speak for all Atheists?) I'm sure that's true in many cases (though others suggest that we should unquestionably agree with Richard Dawkins).

Still don't get it? OK, here's the gist of what I believe:

1. God, real or not, is a huge concept. Like, really huge.
2. The human mind (even Dawkins' mind) is limited in what it can comprehend. (This is not just my opinion. If you truly think you can understand everything, well, you're obviously much smarter than Einstein, Darwin or Stephen Hawking ever thought they were.)
3. Whether or not God exists, a list of science-based analyses (like Dawkins') can't prove anything, as it stems from a human mind. Perfectly valid criticism of religion (like Christopher Hitchens) also can't prove anything, except that some religious practice sucks.
4. That's all.

As I don't really have the time or the energy, I'll refrain from replying to each angry argument. (Well, I say "argument." The person who wrote "Wrong... Wrong... Wrong... Wrong... Wrong. Next" didn't actually argue anything. Why waste so much time?) Oh, but special mention to the person who suggested that I can't criticize atheists because I'm a "churcher"? Presuming that a churcher is someone who actually goes to Church, then I am not a churcher. (That's another thing that I mention in that obviously confusing entry.) But what are you saying? Nobody should argue with you if they clearly disagree with you? (No, really, that's what it sounds like. Seriously. Read it to yourself.)

As for the "cool" aspect of being gay... OK, perhaps I should elaborate on that. Yes, most gay people in my acquaintance were born with that preference. However, the 1990s was a time for sexual experimentation. Once again, I knew a lot of people who seemed to try homosexuality because it was "cool". Many of them have since returned to opposite-sex partners. I have no problem with homosexuality (though if anyone wants to take offense, well, who can stop you?), and I'm not especially proud of being straight. (It's the way I was born, so I have no choice.)

If you're gay, that's fine. If you're proud of it, good for you. If you're Atheist, for whatever reason, that's wonderful (whatever religious people might say). If you're religious, that's wonderful too (whatever Atheists might tell you). If you don't like being challenged (except by Richard Dawkins), and you want to yell at anyone who disagrees with you... well, that's why we have the internet.

But I still say that there is no technical proof that God exists, nor any proof that he doesn't exist. As we know from various religious people: just because you feel passionately about something, it doesn't mean you're right.