The famous philosopher Socrates lived in Greece from about 470-400 B.C. Stories of his teaching are plentiful in students like Plato and Aristotle. Socratease is my fictional, modern-day version of a Socrates-like character using his same ironic, dialogic form of teaching and applying this method of teaching to today’s issues.
Ben is an acquaintance of Socratease who likes to think of himself as a thoughtful and deep person.
Ben: Socratease, I’m wrestling with whether I believe in a God or not.
Socratease: Who or what are you wrestling with? Are you wrestling with God, the existence of God or with the implications for your life if there is a God?
Ben: Hmm. Not sure I’ve thought about it like that. What’s the difference?
Socratease: Does your wrestling with the existence of God change the reality of whether there is a God or not? Doesn’t He either exist or not exist, no matter if you wrestle with it or believe it? It seems like your wrestling is futile, since it doesn’t change the reality one way or another.
Ben: Yes, that makes sense.
Socratease: How do you explain our existence?
Ben: I’ve always been taught about evolution. We came from a single cell life form that crawled out of the primordial ooze, and then we eventually evolved into human beings.
Socratease: If that’s what you were taught, then it must be true, of course. So the single cell life form came from the primordial ooze. That makes perfect sense. One question. Where did the primordial ooze come from?
Ben: I guess it evolved as well.
Socratease: Of course it evolved. From what?
Ben: Guess I never heard about where the ooze came from.
Socratease: That’s rather foundational, don’t you think?
Ben: Well, yes, I guess it is. I have been taught that the universe banged into existence from what they called infinite density.
Socratease: Yes, I’ve heard that too. What is infinite density exactly? I’ve known some people who are infinitely dense, but I doubt that’s what you’re talking about.
Ben: The way I’ve heard it described, the universe is expanding outward from a central point. If we could rewind the expansion of the universe, eventually it would all be condensed back into this infinitely dense mass.
Socratease: Infinitely dense mass. Could you explain that?
Ben: Well, I’ve heard that at some point all the universe was compacted even smaller than a microdot, not even visible to the human eye. Other scientists have said infinite density is a cloaked way of saying “nothing.” The universe banged into existence out of nothing.
Socratease: Very interesting. So if it banged into existence from something smaller than a microdot, where did the dot come from? If it banged into existence out of nothing, doesn’t that defy the natural science belief about cause and effect, that everything is an effect that comes from an equal or greater tangible source or cause? Isn’t something out of nothing supernatural?
Ben: Either way, something doesn’t match up, does it?
Socratease: So how do you explain the existence of the universe and everything in it now, Ben? Would the existence of a supernatural God be a plausible resolution to your logical dilemma?
Ben: I guess so. Maybe.
Socratease: Well that resonates with confidence. Why do you seem so hesitant, Ben?
Ben: It just seems like a big leap of faith to believe in a supernatural God.
Socratease: A big leap of faith, huh? But believing a single cell life form crawled out of some primordial ooze, that we can’t explain how it got here, as part of a planet called earth, that we can’t explain by natural means how it got here, isn’t a big leap of faith?
Ben: OK, sure. But there isn’t any proof for the existence of God.
Socratease: So you want proof. What kind and how much proof would you need, Ben? Again, is the issue that there isn’t enough evidence for the existence of God, or is it that you don’t want to believe in a God you would be subject to?
Ben: I want to say there’s not enough evidence. But down deep inside I also know it scares me that I would be subject to such a powerful, absolute authority like God.
Socratease: So how much have you searched for evidence for the existence of God?
Ben: Well, not at all, I guess. Why do you ask?
Socratease: From my experience, I rarely find what I haven’t even looked for. If you haven’t sincerely searched for evidence, why are you so surprised you haven’t found what you haven’t looked for? Which brings me to my original question: “Are you wrestling with God, the existence of God or with the implications for your life if there is a God?”