Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Invisible Forces

"God is like electricity or the wind - you can't see Him but you can see the effects He has." This was one of the first apologetics I heard and was persuaded by, as a very young girl. So even though it will be relatively simple to debunk, it's got some personal meaning, so I sally forth. (How did Sally become both a girl's name and a military verb?)

Anyone who's spent a day at a science museum has gotten to play with a Tesla coil and knows that you can see electrical arcs. (Learn more at the Tesla Society page! Very cool geekdom.) Also? Lightning. Not only can we see electricity, we can also feel it (ouch! Anyone who's ever lived in a Florida trailer knows what it feels like to get electrocuted - cheap wires in cardboard walls.) We ca manipulate and harness electricity, and we can make reliable predictions about how it will behave. The entire wiring system of your home was set up with these reliable predictions in mind. Electricity consistently behaves like electricity.

And the wind, while it is not in itself visible, is knowable - and measurable. Whether it's reported in knots, miles or kilometers per hour, we can measure the wind as it is happening and whether or not it is windy at any given location and time is not as questionable as the existence of an all-powerful creator. Not only can we measure wind as it is happening, meteorologists, oceanographers, and other people who study this stuff can use what we know about wind to make predictions.

That weekly forecast isn't a prophecy from holy scripture or divine revelation - it's science (testable, knowable, falsifiable, and verifiable - beautiful stuff.) As someone who lives in Florida, where hurricane season is from June 1 to November 30 (probably already in the clear this season) and especially as a former Florida mobile home owner*, I appreciate the knowledge-based educated predictions that NOAA makes on my behalf.

God isn't nearly so helpful. We haven't yet found a way to measure God that he shows up on. He doesn't do cool Tesla purple arcs of electricity (they are sooooo pretty)** and we have entirely non-supernatural explanations for lightning. We know why wind happens the way it does, and anyone who's driven through a city after even a Category 1 Hurricane has hit knows that wind leaves obvious physical effects and aftermath. With god supposedly touching so many people, it seems strange that believers (of every stripe) can only offer "feelings" as their proof of god.

The main difference is this: Although the wind and god are both invisible (electricity just freaking isn't - my 3rd grade Christian school teacher lied), the wind has been proven to exist and god hasn't. So they are not just the same. Wind is real and god is imaginary.***

* Yes, we know that mobile homes and six months of hurricane system are a bad combination. But where else can you pay $140/month rent? I really miss that rent, but not so much the crappy locks, holes in the walls, and subsequent roaches. Still - $140 a month is nothing to sneeze at. Besides, where I live has only been hit by one cat 1 hurricane and a half a dozen severe tropical storms in the two decades I've lived here.

** I have loved lightning since I can remember. Thunder storms are passionate and cool. See the video below to understand the force of nature that makes me excited to be alive.

*** Does anybody know what the hell happened to GodIsImaginary.com? The page is down all of a sudden and I don't know why! Have they moved???