Re: Paper-tigers

Linda R. Barrett (
Wed, 01 Apr 1998 08:43:31 -0500


Thanks for your reply to my message.

> I think that a natural world with no gods at all from any religion would behave exactly
> the same way.

I think I would agree with you. Although I do believe in God, there are certainly times when
I can imagine the world without a god. In broad outlines, at least, and at first glance, such
a world wouldn't necessarily have to be vastly different from the world we live in. Proving
our respective assumptions is, as you say, difficult.

> Incidentally, I don't consider the world a "fearful" place to live if devoid of gods of
> any kind.

I think that perhaps I did not make my point entirely clear. The "fearful" place and "chaos"
that I was referring to were the result, not of _no_ god, but of a god that intervened
frequently in the world in such a way that he what he did could not be attributed to any
natural law. I.e., a god that could not be considered a paper-tiger by anyone.

If such a god would part your favorite lake for you (whatever the consequences of that act
might be for the creatures that live in or around the lake) in order to prove his existence,
he would do other grand and capricious things to prove himself to other people. There are a
lot of people in the world; not everyone would be convinced by the same thing. A god breaking
the natural laws too often and dramatically would result in a world without laws. That is
what I was envisioning as chaos.

> I am not scared of death or thinking about death forever. With the sting of
> death thus solved, the other problems of a naturalistic view are rather minor. Christians
> seem very scared of death as a total end of their lives. Why is this?

I would agree that the prospect of death forever (assuming that it means total loss of
existence) is not particularly scary. The world with no god would seem to me to be rather
bleak, but not particularly horrifying.

Yet death as a snuffing out is difficult for the people who have not yet died to accept,
because then it means a final parting from loved ones. I am glad to have the hope of a
resurrection when we shall be reunited, but I can see how it would be possible to accept death
as the ultimate finality.

Thanks again for your thoughts!

Best wishes,


Dr. Linda R. Barrett
Department of Geography and Planning
University of Akron
Akron, OH  44325-5005
The Department of Geography and Planning's Web Page: