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The word “god” is used to cover a vast multitude of mutually exclusive ideas. And the distinctions are, I believe in some cases, intentionally fuzzed so that no one will be offended that people are not talking about their god …

The word “god” is used to cover a vast multitude of mutually exclusive ideas. And the distinctions are, I believe in some cases, intentionally fuzzed so that no one will be offended that people are not talking about their god …

— Carl Sagan

The word “god” is used to cover a vast multitude of mutually exclusive ideas. And the distinctions are, I believe in some cases, intentionally fuzzed so that no one will be offended that people are not talking about their god.

But let me give a sense of two poles of the definition of God. One is the view of, say, Spinoza or Einstein, which is more or less God as the sum total of the laws of physics. Now, it would be foolish to deny that there are laws of physics. If that’s what we mean by God, then surely God exists. All we have to do is watch the apples drop.

Newtonian gravitation works throughout the entire universe. We could have imagined a universe in which the laws of nature were restricted to only a small portion of space or time. That does not seem to be the case. … So that is itself a deep and extraordinary fact: that the laws of nature exist and that they are the same everywhere. So if that is what you mean by God, then I would say that we already have excellent evidence that God exists.

But now take the opposite pole: the concept of God as an outsize male with a long white beard, sitting in a throne in the sky and tallying the fall of every sparrow. Now, for that kind of god I maintain there is no evidence. And while I’m open to suggestions of evidence for that kind of god, I personally am dubious that there will be powerful evidence for such a god not only in the near future but even in the distant future. And the two examples I’ve given you are hardly the full range of ideas that people mean when they use the word “god.”

I suppose the scholars of the Septuagint could at least be said to have started something big when they mistranslated the Hebrew word for ‘young woman’ into the Greek word for ‘virgin’, coming up with the prophecy: ‘Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son…’

I suppose the scholars of the Septuagint could at least be said to have started something big when they mistranslated the Hebrew word for ‘young woman’ into the Greek word for ‘virgin’, coming up with the prophecy: ‘Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son…’

Richard Dawkins

I suppose the scholars of the Septuagint could at least be said to have started something big when they mistranslated the Hebrew word for ‘young woman’ into the Greek word for ‘virgin’, coming up with the prophecy: ‘Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son…’

For most people, a lifetime of earthly satisfaction isn’t enough

For most people, a lifetime of earthly satisfaction isn’t enough

On Desire: Why we want what we want P. 182

Those who join a religion are typically motivated by desire. Some join because they want to make their time on earth more pleasant. They might seek spiritual solace, want to be socially accepted by their neighbors, or dream of having a church wedding. Others join because they want their afterlife to be more enjoyable: they prefer the infinite bliss of heaven to the unspeakable suffering of hell. (The desire to spend an eternity in heaven, by the way, is one more manifestation of human insatiability. For most people, a lifetime of earthly satisfaction isn’t enough; they instead seek an infinite period of infinite satisfaction, although it is far from clear, as we shall see, whether even heaven would satisfy them.)”

The spreads of government and of religion have thus been linked to each other throughout recorded history

The spreads of government and of religion have thus been linked to each other throughout recorded history

“The spreads of government and of religion have thus been linked to each other throughout recorded history, whether the spread has been peaceful … or by force. In the latter case it is often government that organizes the conquest, and religion that justifies it.”

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies P. 266