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As someone raised in a secular family within a radically religious Muslim country (Iran), I always had a mixed feeling towards God, or better said: the Concept of God.

When religious establishment goes too far, meddles in people’s private affairs and overreaches its authority to restrain harmless personal freedom, and loses focus of the real reason behind its very existence, backlash may pursue in form of anti-religion movements, sometimes translating into atheism or agnosticism. I defined myself as an agnostic for about twenty years, before, thankfully, reconciling again with the concept of God.

Critics of religion often use the absurdity or “unrealisticness” of an omnipotent, omnipresent and mighty entity as their primary argument against believing in God. Here I would like to show why this argument is fundamentally flawed, using mathematics.

Imagine you are a physicist or mathematician and are trying to explain or predict certain phenomena, like electricity or light. If you stick with “real” numbers, that is an impossible task. There is no known way of demonstrating a formula for explaining oscillating behavior without using trigonometric functions cosine and sine. And in order to do that, we need the imaginary unit i, which is defined as the square root of a negative number. Something that is obviously not “real”, according to its very definition. It technically cannot exist.

However, while having deemed fictitious or useless by RenĂ© Descartes in the 17th century, following works of Euler, Cauchy and Gauss in the 18th and 19th century i became an essential tool to conceptualize recurring and oscillating phenomena. This was achieved by introducing an axis of imaginary numbers in the plane to a four-dimensional space of quaternion imaginaries. The geeky scientific details are not important. What is important is that something “imaginary” was used to help us achieve a higher level of understanding our universe and its laws, and contributed to helping us achieving more greatness and power.

I see God as the same concept. It is a higher value, with defining characteristics that are not “real”, including God is everywhere, God sees everything, God blesses or punishes, etc. Trying to have a “realistic” approach is somehow the same as trying to explain or formulate waves without imaginary numbers. The formula becomes unnecessarily big and complex, and it never get quite to have a “realistic” representation of what it is trying to explain.

As an example: imagine removing God from the society, and replacing the controlling mechanisms by human intervention. A religious person who believes in God, does not commit crime, even when s/he is not being watched. Because God sees, and God doesn’t forget, even if he forgives. A non-religious person is more tempted to commit atrocities, when s/he is sure nobody is watching. In order to have the same outcome in let’s say reducing crime or elevating morality, people have to install cameras everywhere, infringe on each others privacy, spend a lot of resources, and at the end not even get close to the situation, where everyone would consider God presence and watchful.

This can be extended to a lot of other areas, where the belief in something mighty, present and wise can bring us forward, in ways no purely logical and utterly godless society can.

That is why I believe in God, and I don’t care whether “it” cannot be “real”.

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