God: The Central Question of Worldview
By Tom Gilson
Of all the issues affecting every person’s picture of reality, nothing is more fundamental than questions about God. Is there one God, Creator and Sovereign of all? Could there be more than one god? Or no God at all? If there is a God (or gods), then what is that God (or gods) like? Nothing determines your worldview—and the course of your life—more than how you answer those questions.
And yet some atheists like to make light of the God question. Richard Dawkins brushed it aside this way in The God Delusion:
I have found it an amusing strategy, when asked whether I am an atheist, to point out that the questioner is also an atheist when considering Zeus, Apollo, Amon-Ra, Mithras, Baal, Thor, Wotan, the Golden Calf and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I just go one god further.
I like to call that the arithmetical atheism argument. Its force (such as it is) depends on the idea that in counting gods, as in counting inches on a ruler, the distance between one and zero is no different than the distance between two and one. Just tick off the gods one by one, and gradually, without fanfare, you find yourself believing not in ten gods, not two, not one, but finally no gods at all. Knocking off that last one is just as easy and inconsequential as subtracting the several before.
Amusing? or Silly?
Dawkins thinks this is “amusing.” I think it’s downright silly. Consider this analogy. Suppose we were go out on Fifth Avenue next Monday to count all the unicorns trotting down the street, and we came up with a grand total of zero. That wouldn’t mean much, would it? Suppose instead we counted a pair of unicorns: it would be an instant worldwide sensation. But then what if we counted exactly one unicorn? Would its significance be halfway between zero unicorns and two? Certainly not. Whether we saw one or two (or a hundred), still it would be all over the news. The distance between two unicorns and one is not at all the same as between one and zero.
Now, even though unicorns in the Big Apple would make quite a splash, still the world would mostly be the same with or without them. That’s not so for God. In worldview terms, our view of God has everything to do with how we see the world we live in and the decisions we make every day. Nothing could be more different than a worldview with God in it, and one without.
The Difference God Makes In the Universe
We who believe in one God see all of creation as permeated with personality, packed with moral meaning, and filled with eternal purpose. One God is not just slightly less than two, by the way. There’s a huge difference between monotheism and any kind of polytheism. There is no cosmic battle going on between deities, no ultimate contest over what’s really right or what’s best. These things are forever settled in heaven, without strife or competition. The universe is suffused with God’s goodness, even where it’s hard to see it, and it is heading toward a good and perfect end.
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