Holy Long Post of Serious-ness, Batman!! Things just got real in here. Weeeirrrd.
(I’m not-so-secretly trying out different ways to say that in front of my computer screen. Yeah, I’m a dork.)
But I won’t lie to you.
I am not an atheist. At one time I thought, perhaps, that I could be, but I’m not. I don’t think that science can explain everything. On the other hand, I don’t believe that one higher, magical being created every. single. thing, and is stalking us in our everyday lives to make sure that we teach our kids not to lie and make them believe that if they say a few words then everything will be okay. I was raised Roman Catholic; organized religion for me, now, is a bit of a turn-off.
In plain language, I am a skeptic, and haven’t quite decided where I fall on the spectrum just yet.
This article , written by Harry Stottle, is a piece of work. Stottle is an atheist, and his writing this article strikes me very much as a move Neil Gaiman or Steven Moffat might make. Just enough to make it seem real, but on the whole a piece of fiction. Or is it?
It is bruising for a skeptic, because it simply gives us more to think about. If we thought we were finally getting somewhere in our beliefs, this article simply adds more fuel to our fire of constant thinking and analyzing.
What’s interesting, though, is that Stottle still claims atheism as his belief system:
“Well, I’ll explain as we go along, but basically he convinced me by having all,
and I do mean ALL, the answers. Every question I flung at him he batted
back with a plausible and satisfactory answer. In the end, it was easier to
accept that he was god than otherwise.
Which is odd, because I’m still an atheist and we even agree on that!”
The thing is, it’s hard to accept that something like this really happened. And that is where you have to take the leap of faith, so to speak. Short of tracking Stottle down and putting him through a lie detector test, there is nothing that can be done to prove it. Even if he wasn’t lying, he couldn’t actually prove the existence of the man that he talked to. Of “god”.
Not all is lost, however. It is an interesting article to think about, so let’s do that.
As a cynic, I found myself automatically questioning the article. What is the point of publishing this supposed conversation? Is Stottle trying to send a message; one in morality perhaps? Is he just another scholar putting his predictions for the future out there? Is he just trying to philosophize on what God might be like, if he actually did exist? Did this conversation even happen? Did Stottle just have a really fabulous conversation with someone who was well-versed in science fiction? Or maybe he did have a conversation with an actual higher being. He was slightly skeptical of it as well, as he should be.
Some humor (as a woman), and my reaction to a lot of things.
As a skeptical spiritualist, however, I found myself nodding my head slightly and saying, “okay, this makes sense”. God (using the same term as the article) is an older brother figure. He’s the one protecting you when you need it the most when you’re little, but for the most part he’s busy playing with the big kids and doesn’t pay much attention to you unless you do something awesome – like invent flying machines. He disdains anything that isn’t “cool” (organized religion), but is the one saying that if he can’t mess with you, then no-one else can (i.e., getting rid of the dinosaurs). I also tend to believe that we are not the only ones in the universe, and I think that whatever is out there is simply waiting for us to catch up.
What’s fascinating to me, in any case, is the amount of detail that went into recording this ‘conversation’. Unless Stottle has an eidetic memory (ala Sheldon of the Big Bang Theory fame), then it is a little hard to believe that he could remember every single detail of this conversation if he did not record it. For example, when Stottle asks about the significance of humans in the vast realm of the universe (implying that the race of humans as a whole is about the equivalent to the average Joe), “god” replies with the following:
“‘a little less. Level One, the level your species has reached, begins with the invention of the flying machine. The next level is achieved when a species is no longer dominated by or dependent upon it’s own primary – your Sun. They are able to prosper away from their own, or indeed any other, stellar system. Humanity is only just into the flying machine phase, so as you can imagine, on that scale, the human race is somewhat near the bottom of the level one pack’”
Now, any good journalist knows the value of detail when interviewing. Some do it with recordings. Some do it with shorthand, taking notes the whole while. Observation is key when conducting an interview. A spontaneous conversation with a deity (or The Deity, as Stottle is reminded) does not seem to fall into the realm of planned, prepared interviews and as Stottle is a computer programmer by trade, it does not seem likely that he was prepared for such a thing.
I’m willing to give Stottle the benefit of the doubt based on my own skepticism, because what was explained made sense to me, given my own beliefs and doubts. However, I’m more willing to fall on the cynical side of things for now, and regard this article as a piece of fiction. It would make a wonderful episode of Doctor Who, or Sherlock.
Right, time to flex those thinking muscles, kids. What do you think? Are you particularly religious, and does this seem utterly blasphemous to you? Are you a complete atheist, and the idea of attaining godhood completely unlikely? Are you a skeptic, like me, and willing to see both sides before coming to a conclusion? Do you think he’s trying to prove a point? What are your thoughts on the possibilities revealed through Stottle’s conversation with “god”?
Read the article, and then let me know your thoughts in your comments. I – literally – can NOT wait to hear from you.
Picture via Ladies Who Do Skepticism