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An Interview with Matthew Scillitani on God (Part Four)

May 1, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 23.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Nineteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: May 1, 2020

Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2020

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,983

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

Matthew Scillitani, member of The Glia Society and The Giga Society, is a web developer and SEO specialist living in North Carolina. He is of Italian and British lineage, and is predominantly English-speaking. He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology at East Carolina University, with a focus on neurobiology and a minor in business marketing. He’s previously worked as a research psychologist, data analyst, and writer, publishing over three hundred papers on topics such as nutrition, fitness, psychology, neuroscience, free will, and Greek history. You may contact him via e-mail at mattscil@gmail.com.He discusses: theology; modern aggressive non-theist movements; view of God; non-interventionist God; a reflection of his God in some others, but not entirely; integrating a non-interventionist God with science; a formal argument for the God; a poetic, informal argument for the God; religious views at odds with this God; no room for magic; ethics and morality; historic and modern interpretations of faiths; positive qualities of God; Ontological Argument; Moral Argument for God; Religious Experience/Personal Testimony Argument for God; Cosmological Argument for God; Argument from Design for God; evolution of religion; and unsolved issues. 

Keywords: America, Giga Society, Glia Society, God, Matthew Scillitani, non-interventionist, non-theist.

An Interview with Matthew Scillitani on God: Member, Giga Society; Member, Glia Society (Part Four)[1],[2]*

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Sir, aside from politics, let’s talk theology, you believe in God, a creator, sustainer, of the universe. Can you unpack some of the theological implications here, please? 

Matthew Scillitani: While I do think there’s a creator I’m very certain God’s impersonal and not involved in any way in our affairs. My conception of God is immediately incompatible then with all Abrahamic and polytheistic religions. I myself am not religious and think there’s no benefit to worship, in the divine sense. However, if a religion is harmless and provides a sense of community, promotes charitable behaviours, and improves the well-being of those involved then I think it can still be a good thing. One could argue that the delusion itself is bad for one’s psychiatric health but I think any such harm is negligible and is outweighed by the other benefits worshippers receive from their religion.

2. Jacobsen: How would, or do, modern aggressive non-theist movements miss the point entirely about ordinary religious (moral) life and more nuanced, modern notions or arguments for God?

Scillitani: Most of the outspoken anti-theists I’ve met and seen across online media are often assholes pretending to be much smarter and moral than they really are. For an extreme minority of these provocateurs there are serious reasons to hate one or more religions, usually stemming from abuse. The reason other non-theists start arguments with religious folk is, unknown to them, because they’re suffering from an extremely weak ego and are trying their hardest to improve it by insulting others. It’s only incidental that religious people make an easy target for their abuse.

To answer your question more directly: there is usually no point when anti-theists argue other than for a fleeting ego boost. When asked why they may say things such as “I want to end religion because it’s a delusion” or “religion is evil” or some other such nonsense. These explanations are unconsciously made to justify their unethical, reckless, mean-spirited behaviours and to lessen the cognitive dissonance brought on by being a low-quality person while believing themselves to be at the pinnacle of intelligence and morality

As an aside, most religions are harmless. There are some bad religions but religion itself isn’t inherently bad. All anti-theists miss that point from the offset.

3. Jacobsen: Is your view of God, at some root level, ineffable or completely definable within human characterization, possible for encapsulation?

Scillitani: God is and must be definable and is the one being with all positive qualities, whatever those may be.

4. Jacobsen: Does God answer prayers, play an active role in the world to this day or exist in a more creation role/abstract manner to you?

Scillitani: Nope. Totally hands-off.

5. Jacobsen: Does this God reflect some theological or religious traditions more than others? If any, which? Does this God reflect the God of some scientists or great thinkers of the past more than others? If someone, who?

Scillitani: I’m not sure on this one. Perhaps Spinoza’s conception of God is most similar but not exactly the same as mine. In contrast to Spinoza’s God, I don’t think God is “one with everything” or “the only substance” as he believed. Because there exist negative qualities and God has only positive qualities it must be that God is not one with all things because then God would also have negative qualities. It may be that God transformed into the universe, but the result would no longer be God then. That would only be possible if immortality were not a positive quality, which may be the case. Perhaps a fleeting life is an ideal one after all.

As for famous thinkers with similar beliefs, a young Nikola Tesla comes to mind. Some biographers of his argue whether he was an atheist or Buddhist in his senior years though.

6. Jacobsen: How does this definition of God integrate with the modern scientific knowledge of the natural world?

Scillitani: God probably exists outside of our time and space and may not even be ‘alive’ in a way that’s familiar to us. Besides scientists dedicating their lives to studying God I doubt there would be any more practical change in academia. Integration is simple when we add in new, stand-alone information without having to replace any of the old stuff.

7. Jacobsen: What makes a formal argument for this God?

Scillitani: Well, it goes back to the “why is there something instead of nothing?” or “why are we here?” questions. The Big Bang theory isn’t satisfactory because we wonder why it happened – what caused the Big Bang? We know that the universe is highly structured. The natural laws are the same on Earth as they are on Neptune or in some other solar system altogether. Inanimate objects don’t have any awareness yet they continue to move in predictable ways. So predictable, in fact, that we have formulas we use to tell us exactly how they’re going to behave under any particular condition.

My thinking is that there was a period* before the Big Bang when there were no natural laws. Today we know there are finite possibilities because we can observe one outcome and not others. However, suppose that before the Big Bang there were infinite possibilities. One such possibility being something with all positive qualities (Gödel’s ontological proof). God, now existing (from the randomness) creates the universe and all its laws. I believe that this is the simplest and cleanest theory so far on the origins of the universe, why there is something instead of nothing, and why inanimate objects seem to organize, structure, and build themselves into more complex or even animate structures (humans, for example) over time.

This also solves the ‘infinite regression’ problem where it’s impossible for there to be infinite causes for an observed effect. There must be a first cause (think Aquinas’ five ways) and both the Big Bang theory and other conceptions of God weren’t good solutions because then one asks “well, what caused that?” But, if we believe there was a period before the universe where everything was random and there needn’t be any cause-effect relationships as we know them then this problem is finally solved.

I’ve heard several physicists propose that perhaps the universe is aware and ‘created itself’ but this is impossible because it would mean that the creation preceded awareness, and how could something create itself if it were not aware?

*This is somewhat of a misleading term because, before the Big Bang there was no time as we know it. But, for lack of a better word, “period” is used here.

8. Jacobsen: What is a poetic, informal argument for this God?

Scillitani: When a child throws a rock and it subsequently falls back to Earth it would be silly to credit gravity and not the child for having thrown it. Gravity is how it fell, sure, but why it fell in the first place was because of the child. After all, a rock isn’t sentient, it can’t throw itself.

9. Jacobsen: What religious views seem most at odds with this God? Obviously, atheism, agnosticism, etc., remain a different set of questions altogether and, sort of, implied at this point.

Scillitani: All religious views are a bit at odds with my conception of God. This is because I think God is impersonal and doesn’t respond to prayers or need be worshipped. Since worship is a requisite for religion, religions don’t make sense then. In the future, I hope religion evolves into community service organizations or special interest groups to fill that social, charitable, or search-for-‘purpose’ need some people have.

10. Jacobsen: On this God, and on the previous definition of a soul, is there room for magic in this view of the world, in this perspective on God?

Scillitani: Absolutely not, that would be horrifying. Also, if magic were real then I’d think everyone on Earth would know immediately and it would be impossible to hide.

11. Jacobsen: With an impersonal personality for God, what does this imply for ethics and morality? Our conduct in every day life in close friendships and with loved ones, and in professional life with colleagues, bosses, and business partners.

Scillitani: I don’t think there’s any reward-punishment system or afterlife provided by God. However, I do think there are absolute and universal laws of ethics that come as an extension of awareness, without God needing design them. Even with no God I think those ‘laws’ would be the same, it just takes a certain amount of awareness to figure out what they are.

12. Jacobsen: Any personal thoughts on the standard interpretations of the Abrahamic faiths? What about some of the more subtle attempts to form-fit the Bible, the Quran, or the Torah and their God(s) into ones more akin to the Einsteinian-Spinozan God, or one for Tesla or you?

Scillitani: “Standard” could have two meanings here: historic (strict) or modern (loose). Both deserve their own answers and I’ll provide them. Any religious person should believe and follow everything their religious texts say precisely. This is because they believe these texts are the Word of an infallible God and so all biblical laws are divine and absolute. Not following them is entirely wrong then. If it says God wants all worshippers to kill their firstborns and they don’t then clearly they don’t believe God is infallible or they’re sinners, denying God. That is following the more historic interpretation and is also the most dangerous one. If a religion promotes violence, hate, or any other destructive behaviors or beliefs then it’s an evil religion and whoever follows an evil religion is an evil person or a hypocrite.

The more modern biblical interpretations aren’t nearly as dangerous but the worshippers are hypocrites. How can someone say they worship God when at every opportunity they deny his Word? These people, I hope, are there more for the sense of community than to worship God.

13. Jacobsen: What are the positive qualities of God to you?

Scillitani: Intelligent and with all the qualities that come along with that such as integrity, conscientiousness, and higher awareness. There are others, of course, but I wouldn’t speculate too much on what they are.

14. Jacobsen: Let’s do some rapid-fire for this session on the standard big arguments put forth in Western societies for God, some of the responses will, in part, be implied based on previous responses. Any thoughts on the Ontological Argument for God?

Scillitani: I think ontological arguments for God are extremely important. Some of these arguments are, however, not so good because the premises are clearly wrong. I think Gödel’s Ontological Proof is the best so far but is impossible in our Universe. if there were a period when things happened at random, without cause-effect relationships, and with infinite possibilities (requiring no natural laws), then his premises would be correct. Since that’s the only way to escape the pitfall of infinite regression while also justifying the orderliness of the Universe I think it’s likely true.

15. Jacobsen: Any thoughts on the Moral Argument for God?

Scillitani: I think it’s a poor argument because morality is just a byproduct of intelligence or social evolution. There’s no need for God when we look at morality by itself.

16. Jacobsen: Any thoughts on the Religious Experience/Personal Testimony Argument for God?

Scillitani: These also make a poor argument for God because many of those experiences involve psychedelic drugs, psychosis, or other brain-malfunctions caused by trauma (or even death). If I saw or heard God I’d voluntarily admit myself to the nearest mental hospital, something anyone in that situation should do.

17. Jacobsen: Any thoughts on the Cosmological Argument for God?

Scillitani: This argument is on the right track but misses some key points as they relate to infinite regression and contingency. Proponents of this argument think God is the first cause and that this settles the ‘infinite regression’ problem by itself. Why then couldn’t the Big Big do that too? They are both starting points, after all. If we follow Occam’s Razer, the latter is even better because it’s a simpler explanation from that view. What t they don’t account for is that neither of those explanations truly solve the infinite regression problem because there must still be something beforehand and what comes before must be aware.

18. Jacobsen: Any thoughts on the Argument from Design for God?

Scillitani: This is overall a good argument for God. Newton was also a proponent of this and once said, “In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God’s existence.” It doesn’t explain how, exactly, there could be a God but merely claims that one is necessary, which I think is true.

19. Jacobsen: With those out of the way, is religion bound to evolve into the moral communities described before more than ever?

Scillitani: Eventually, I’m sure that will happen. It won’t be for thousands of years though. Old traditions are hard to break and even if all religious worshippers were given undeniable proof that God were impersonal most would continue to worship. It takes time to make major changes like this. It will also take time for certain academic circles to escape the stigma that comes with believing in God.

20. Jacobsen: What are the questions still remaining unsolved if the conceptualization of God provided in this session are true? In that, the premises are true and link one to the other to a true conclusion while the entirety of the set of premises and the conclusion for the formal argument remain true while incomplete because of other questions floating around implying particular hidden premises. If the hidden premises had answers, then the argument would be more complete and a higher fidelity of truth than when only the explicit premises are considered.

Scillitani: Big questions like, ‘why did God make the universe; what was the purpose?’, ‘is there an afterlife?’, and ‘are there other universes?’ remain and I think would strengthen the argument.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Member, Giga Society; Member, Glia Society. Bachelor’s Degree, Psychology, East Carolina University.

[2] Individual Publication Date: May 1, 2020: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/scillitani-four; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2020: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/. Image Credit: Matthew Scillitani.

*High range testing (HRT) should be taken with honest skepticism grounded in the limited empirical development of the field at present, even in spite of honest and sincere efforts. If a higher general intelligence score, then the greater the variability in, and margin of error in, the general intelligence scores because of the greater rarity in the population.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Matthew Scillitani on God (Part Four) [Online].May 2020; 23(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/scillitani-four.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2020, May 1). An Interview with Matthew Scillitani on God (Part Four)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/scillitani-four.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Matthew Scillitani on God (Part Four). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 23.A, May. 2020. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/scillitani-four>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2020. “An Interview with Matthew Scillitani on God (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 23.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/scillitani-four.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Matthew Scillitani on God (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 23.A (May 2020). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/scillitani-four.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2020, ‘An Interview with Matthew Scillitani on God (Part Four)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 23.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/scillitani-four>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2020, ‘An Interview with Matthew Scillitani on God (Part Four)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 23.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/scillitani-four.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Matthew Scillitani on God (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 23.A (2020):May. 2020. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/scillitani-four>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Matthew Scillitani on God (Part Four)[Internet]. (2020, May 23(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/scillitani-four.

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© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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