To Thaddeus Dombrowski: Is God a Part of the Brain

It has been a while since this comment was made to my “Why I Believe In God” article, but it is worth making a small note, even though I don’t intend to get into a debate about whether God exists. I don’t think either philosophy or science can decide this question : at our current stage of evolution. But since most people do think about it, the question probably deserves some philosophical attention.

Of course Thaddeus is right, very early on in any personal choice whether to believe in God, as a thinking, analytical person, we have to ask if the whole notion is just an illusion, a construct of our minds. As he puts it in his question, since I see God as the Logos, does that not mean it’s an invention of my thinking apparatus.

I’ve tried to convey in several articles in this blog that there is a fundamental order in the universe itself, an order that transcends the observer and is not just a creation of his imagintion. This means the order exists outside our minds, as well as inside. Which is not to say we may not add something to the scenery. Sherlock Holmes is certainly an embroidery, a construct of the imagination that has no reality (beyond being a part of an actual story). But I don’t think we can reasonably contend that all of the order in the world is a product of our imaginations.

My favorite argument that external order is not entirely a brain construction is an observation about cows: they don’t float away and get stuck in trees. If gravity were a fanciful mental construction and nothing more, there should be companies that specialize in collecting wayward farm animals that have drifted off, got stuck against buildings, caught in trees, or are just obscuring the view as they float over Mt. Rushmore. But as far as I can tell, cows are a verifiable part of the world, they have mass, they take up space, they have to be fed, and they regularly produce manure. And they stay on the ground, due to the action of gravity. We may be in doubt as to the exact nature of gravity, but that there is such a force is not to be questioned. Not if you’re sitting as you read this. If you’re floating in a corner of the room, you may have a point.

No. Wrapping up the fact that the universe has external order, in some kind of entity, force, or power that manifests that order may have relative merits and difficulties of support, but that it exists only as a feature of our brain-thingies is not a tenable hypothesis. It doesn’t worry me in the slightest.

Dombrowski’s question might also be taken in this form: An external order (Logos) exists in the world apart from our speculations as to its detailed form and content, but to suppose there is an agency that is the cause of that order is making an unjustified leap. If that’s the point of the question, it’s good, but it’s not the same as supposing that we create all the order we see. And if we suppose there is an external order, then it’s also reasonable to ask why there is an external order, and how is it made manifest.

Mostly science evades the question entirely and takes it that external order exists, without asking how or why. The scientific question is just a determination of what the rules are.

There are other comments on the God question that I would like to give front-page space to, but all in due time. Thank you for your question, Mr. Dombrowski.

About John Valley

Born in Michigan, USA, in 1948, I've since lived all over the US, but back here again. I've worked as operating systems developer, consultant, and published three books on Unix and programming back in the 90's. My interests include philosophy and cooking chili. I can usually be found online in the mornings, on Undernet, chatting with people in the #Philosophical channel.
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