We often see statements being made here, by Christians mostly, to the effect that God is non-physical:
"...science only examines and addresses the physical, it is most unlikely to find any non-physical answers."
This is one of those times when you want to ask what the hell the person thinks they are talking about since this category that they have plucked from thin-air has no real substance. What is non-physical? The usual answer is that it is composed of spirit. So what is spirit? It's non-physical apparently. We never get to the heart of this and so this attribute never quite reaches the level of an explanation. One assumes that the person speaking has some ontological basis for their declaration, yet there is never any reasoning given as to *how* they would acquire this knowledge that their deity has this particular attribute. Is this knowledge sucked out of one's thumb?
What it is really, is a bolthole. An excuse. A rationalisation of why their deity is so lacking in evidence and so blatantly unevident in the real world. It is offered as a escape hatch in any discussion in which the sceptic points out that there is no evidence for their deity.
When you read any scripture all the actions attributed to these deities are entirely played out in the physical realm. That is kind of the whole point of deities, because there is little call for a deity that does bugger all. Jesus walks on water, turns water into wine (not at the same time obviously), Geb's laughter causes earthquakes and for the writers of these scriptures they did not conceive of non-evident deities since they believed them to be something intimately involved with this physical world. Their actions were physical. The universe as imagined in scriptures is one in which magical events by these deities are commonplace everyday occurrences. They are entirely natural to the universe.
The awful truth is that this conception of a universe has been discarded by the assiduous study of reality around us. If it were true that deities tinkered with the physical realm in such a fashion, these occurrences would be considered by science as natural and would be catalogued and incorporated purely as a matter of course into every theory and description of the world around us.
The fact is that they have not. The reason for this is that they do not occur. What the believer actually has are stories, lots of anecdotes, rumours and hearsay elevated to the status of fact through constant repetition and fervent belief. What we see is that stories outwith their chosen religion are treated sceptically, whereas those clothed in the vestments of their faith are accepted uncritically even though there is little difference between the two.
It seems bizarre that so much of religious belief is maintained on there being some unknown substance that could possibly be a enabler for their beliefs, yet since it is unknown, what then are their beliefs really based upon? In reality it is the beliefs that come first and these fanciful notions are an afterthought, some post-hoc rationalisation offered as justification for why they should believe as they do.
So the next time someone mentions the non-physical aspect of their preferred deity, question the speaker, chase down this definition of what they are talking about because you will find in the end that they are merely assuming their conclusion as it is a key element of their worldview that it *must* be true. It is not a conclusion reached through reason, nor through investigation, but one assumed because they have no other recourse.
In the end though, we can simply dismiss all these beliefs in deities because they are just a story. Nothing more substantial than that. When someone threatens me with Hell, or Satan, it has no more impact than someone threatening me with Klingons or Darth Vader. These are characters from stories, of no more substance than a deity.
It's just a story.
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