The Mind of God Part 4: The Necessity of Science
Staunch Atheists and Religious Zealots are two sides of the same coin. I believe in the coin.
There is no such science or Religion, nor will there ever be a science or Religion, that can prove or disprove the existence of God. Rather there is only rhetoric manipulating science or Religion to fit its mold. Science states, rhetoric coaxes.
Those are just a few thoughts I let rattle around in my brain fairly often, the first one being a more vague, proverbial way of saying exactly what the second one says. The important point being that, rather than arguing about one side of the coin being right over the other side, why not argue on behalf of the whole coin? If science is heads and Religion is tails, or vice versa, and they are opposites, then they are still part of the same coin but refuse to see where they share common ground.
I think the term Spirituality gets a bit of flack for being too closely representative of "Religion", but I think it's important to draw a distinct separation between these two things. I am a firm believer that many elements of Religion are relatively unnecessary; the man made aspects. I say relatively because it is not wholly unecessary or entirely bad. Next week's focus is going to be on organizations, organized Religion being a big part of that, but the importance that people have a social group to belong to that is comprised of its own doctrine and dogma invented by humans. We all have these groups, Religion is simply one of them, and being against organized Religion is a bit of a silly position because it's ultiumately like saying you're against social groups that are unlike yours, against organizations unlike yours, and that's synonymous with prejudice.
But Spirituality is important, and I think different from Religion because it's the acknowledgement of things going on beyond science, or beyond the realm of our understanding, and allowing the possibility for hypotheses to prove or attempt to prove the things that we will never know or fully understand. It's giving your best shot at comprehending the ultimate "Why?" to the Universe. If the Big Bang, then why the Big Bang? If zero-point energy then why zero-point energy? It allows for the questions and acknowledgment of wonderment to exist without being limited to the confines of any Religious dogma or doctrine. To me, Spirituality is the purest form of our pursuit of God. You're not trying to limit him to what books say you should believe, you're open to understanding what he is based on going with the flow of the incredible things that occur in the Universe and appreciating them for their science and their, at times, indescribable beauty.
In Part One I used to example of people disproving the existence of God simply because observing him is not within our observable scope, and anything that exists outside of that scope must not exist because we cannot observe it. That's a little naive and, quite frankly, upsets me that scientists would hault their innate ability and desire to explore as scientists. If the purpose of science is to find reasons and explanations for that which we do not yet know, and to try and make sense of them, then ruling something out based on your affliction to Religion is foolish. For the sake of science, do away with Religion and embrace potential spirituality. For within spirituality is the potential for bigger, broader, and better science that can pave the path to greater understanding and appreciation for our Universe.
That being said, this is ultimately about embracing science as an absolute necessity toward appreciating the "Why?" factor, or God. God, in this case, is the why factor, the question that inevitably and necessarily exists beyond what we can observe. There will come a limit to our human understanding, but if science dictates and we agree that we are relatively limited beings, or animals, then clearly we cannot accept that our undertsnading is the be all, end all to comprehending the Universe. We're minute pieces of the pie who live on a pale blue dot, a mote of dust floating on a sun beam, to paraphrase Carl Sagan. But whatever gave way to everything else going on in all of existence is clearly bigger than our brains and bigger than our abilities of limited comprehension.
But science is the key to unlocking these mysteries. A lot of Religions are in conflict with science because, in a gist, they accuse it of trying to explain away the marvels of the Lord. Staunch creationists for instance believe the Earth is only a few thousand years old. There are people I know and have spoken with who believe Dinosaurs never existed and that scientific proof of them is not really proof at all, but God testing our faith in him. To take this one step further, there are even groups who, in order to make all their beliefs about God fit inside their human constructed box for him, believe that Jesus and Dinosaurs co-existed. I was turned onto this group by a very close friend who also shared some photos, for instance, of Jesus holding and caring for a baby Raptor. This is more comedy than anything, in my opinion. But rather than people accepting how science can co-exist with their Religion, they try to find silly ways for their Religion to incorporate science in limited and ridiculous ways. Rather than acknowledge the world is billions of years old, and that dinosaurs and animals existed before Adam and Eve, they would still rather believe that the world is only a few thousand years old, that even if dinosaurs existed, they existed alongside human beings.
These are all extreme examples. There are plenty of Religious folk and spiritual individuals who find it only necessary for their faith and our science to work hand in hand. This is my point; it must. How can you say that all of our scientific methods are false creations of flawed men and women that observe "evidence" that is actually planted pieces of fake history that God has put on earth, on purpose, just to test you. No offense, but God is not that stupid. This depiction of God devalues him and what he's capable of. It's a human depiction of him, limited to human rules and understanding. As my Dad and I have discussed many times, humans have essentially built a box and put God inside of it. But it is their box, made by men, and it obeys the laws of humankind, and it is limited. But God does not, can not, and will not exist inside our man made boxes. God is so massive, so beyond everything, he is so much the why factor, that clearly he shatters these boxes.
Why not then take science as further and further evidence to prove just how wondrous he might be? Instead of science and spirituality existing as polar opposites, why not make it the intent of our entire race to determine just what the why factor is? We too should leave no stone unturned in our exploration for answers. And for scientists, why rule out a potential hypothesis simply because it reminds you of Religion? Don't study and seek to disprove the God of religion, but be open to the potential of a God of spirituality that we all know you cannot disprove the non-existence of, just as we cannot prove its existence. Even Dawkins, in The God Delusion makes the statement that though he is an athiest, that though he cannot technically disprove the non-existence of God, it is still at least highly unlikely that God exists. If you choose to believe it is highly unlikely, that's fine, but you must accept that fact that you cannot, with science or Religion, prove or disprove God with absolute, factual certainty. You can only do this with rhetoric that uses, or manipulates, both of these things. Because of this, I take issue with the title of Dawkins' book. It should not be called The God Delusion but rather The Religion Delusion. He does an excellent job of showing us why we do not need Religion, but does a poor rhetorical job at utilizing any of the complex sciences beyond Darwinism to try and make an intelligent case for why God does not exist. It cannot be done. He is the perfect example of why most all people disbelieve in a potential God, because of Religion. People are so turned off by its negative aspects that they assume God can only be the way he is in Religion. But God certainly isn't, and is so much more than what any Religion could try and depict him as being. And to the contrary of Dawkins we have scientists like Bernard Haisch and many other astrophysicists who seek to find a science that may prove the existence of something beyond the realm of our understanding. Not that there is no value to Dawkins, he is incredibly intelligent and I actually enjoy his sarcastically, arrogant cynicism from time to time, but he is allowing himself to accept not seeking to study a science outside of our scope. At least many other scientists are seeking to use science to expand that scope. So a lot of Athiests have done the exact reverse of what many Religious folks do. They have a built a non-God box, and their proof for the non-existence of God must exist within this box. But it is clear and obvious that science is occuring outside of this box, they're just deciding not to study or appreciate it. That is the greatest tragedy.
Once again, two sides of the same coin. As far as organizations going, these two seemingly polar opposites are following and obeying the same dogmatic principles. But that's a broader topic for next week. (Think, the difference between intent and tactics.)
What science tells us about us and our Universe is incredible. It gives explanations for things that even just decades ago we looked at with mystery and wonderment, let a lone the thousands of years it's been since the events of the Bible. I find that many scientists look at the Bible or any Religious text with a bit of disdain or anger, upset that God is portrayed as a being of fear and anger, rage and jealousy. But to give credit to these people of History, how else do you depict such events if you exist in a time without any practical science or promotion to expore spirituality outside of your cultural influences? There is no understanding of science, no concept of philosophy beyond what they've been taught, beyond what is perpetuated within their culture. So the God they write and speak of is one that must exist within the box of their Historical context. Then characters like the Jesus, the Buddha, and Laozi, amongst many others come around and shatter this mold and tell people that God and spirituality isn't who and what they've thought it was for thousands of years. That's not easy to handle and it's a slow process. And science is much the same. A lot of people wish to cling to old Religious interpretations and are trying to force them to remain applicable to today, trying to keep them crammed inside a limited box of understanding and trying to refuse to believe in the facts science has provided us. Too many people choose ignorance over informity.
If the strictly Religious or staunch Atheists allowed themselves to explore the benefits of both science and/or spirituality, they would find their respective boxes are the biggest jokes they could have imagined, that they were trying to keep something unexplainable inside an explainable case, a man made mold, and that if they allow themselves to open that box and break that mold then their understanding and appreciation for both science and spirituality would reward them tenfold.
Science is our ability to understand and appreciate the wonders of the Universe for what they really are and must be looked at as truth. Science is not some mystical creation by God to test your faith, science is what God has given you to make sense of this crazy world. Disbelieving in science does not make you more pious or worthy, more intelligent or more enlightened, it tells others that you have placed limitations on your own "God", that you choose not to think things because they run the risk of breaking your God box, which in turn does not tell the world things about God, it tells us about your "God", and most importantly it tells us about you.
I'm not commanding everyone to now immediately run to your local bookstore and buy up dozens of volumes of science, but what I am saying is, don't disallow yourself the ability to marvel at how things work. If you are willing to open your God box, and if non-believers are willing to open the non-God box, you will find that there is so much more common ground for us to find amongst eachother. They say knowledge is power, so let that knowledge inform you, not impair you. And knowledge is not seeking to destroy your Religion, but may show you that you are not a human who was born two thousand plus years ago. The Bible, the Torrah, the Qur'an, so many of these Religious texts do contain incredible moral truths that we would find ourselves agreeing with still today and should through the rest of time. But what we can break away from is the rules and rhetoric in which it's presented to us. The "gay issue" is, and unfortunately will be, a hot topic in Religious communities for years to come, and the way it's presented as being inherently wrong is because the Bible says. The citations given for it are crude and old and written by men. God's hand did not reach down and pen the Bible, humans did, humans interpreting morals through the prism of their God box. But science tells us that homosexuality is not a sin, not a choice or a lifestyle, but how people are born. (And how many animals are born to a larger degree, which should tell us something important.) If you resist accepting or loving them because they challenge and threaten to break your God box, then you're trying desperately to cling to the over two thousand year old comprehension of who and what God is, and frankly, if you're ever worried about insulting God, this will do it. Remember, God is unconditional love, not conditional, those conditions are man made and ascribed to him. Humans actively seek to limit God because they are afraid of not being able to handle the incomprehensible.
All of this also shouldn't tell you to burn Bibles and scream your anger in the streets, but rather use them as important Historical text of who we used to be and what we used to believe. If we did many a grave unkindness in History then write it down and read it in the future to remind us not to go back to such savage ways. Just like the Crusades, like the inquisition, the Holocaust, and 9/11, never forget. Don't hold to it to the degree of driving yourself into depression, but remember it to tell you that we, as human beings, are better than this and can strive every day to do right, to do good, and to Love with all our hearts.
If spirituality is the desire to understand God, or to understand the why factor, to what came before the Big Bang and even beyond that to the nth degree, then it is the chisel that is capable of cracking the wall separating you and your ability to understand higher, deeper, and greater things. But a chisel alone does little. You could stab at that wall over and over with the chisel in hand and slowly chip away at it, but you would never reach the other side within your lifetime. Science is the hammer to aid the chisel, science makes logical and comprehensible sense of these ethereal wonders, and using them together shatters the walls of your box of limited understanding and, in the wise words of Jim Morrison, helps you "Break on through to the other side."