Saturday, February 25, 2006
Martin Gardner's God
While critical of organized religions, Gardner believes in God, claiming that this belief cannot be confirmed or disconfirmed by reason. At the same time, he is skeptical of claims that God has communicated with human beings through spoken or telepathic revelation or through miracles in the natural world.
Martin Gardner's philosophy may be summarised as follows: There is nothing supernatural, and nothing in human reason or visible in the world to compel people to believe in God. The mystery of existence is enchanting, but a belief in The Old One comes from faith without evidence. However, with faith and prayer people can find greater happiness than without. If there is an afterlife, the loving Old One is real. [To an atheist] "the universe is the most exquisite masterpiece ever constructed by nobody", from G. K. Chesterton, is one of Martin's favorite quotes.
Gardner says in Skeptical Inquirer, "Shortly before he died, Carl Sagan wrote to say he had reread my Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener and was it fair to say that I believed in God solely because it made me "feel good." I replied that this was exactly right, though the emotion was deeper than the way one feels good after three drinks. It is a way of escaping from a deep-seated despair. "
Source 1, Source 2
So why has Gardner settled for such a pedestrian version of monotheistic religion? If you're going to believe beyond the evidence, why not believe boldly?
I do wish Gardner wasn't so often mentioned in the same breath as James Randi, who I consider less a debunker than a spoilsport, but strange bedfellows and all that rot.