Friday, May 21, 2004

Random Thoughts

I was thinking last night, while trying to relax my envelope-stuffing-clenched shoulders so I could go to sleep, about the arguments for and against Creationism. This started when I saw an ad for some religious show that comes on Channel 52 during the dead hours, in which the preacher (who looks a lot like a septuagenarian Howdy Doody) would show that the Big Bang could not have been an accident, it had God's handprints all over it. I had heard a similar statement from my father and had a good long argument with him about it (a scientific-type argument, not a father/son-type argument) from which we both gained greater perspective.

Certain Christian types, you see, are starting to adapt themselves to the proofs of Science... no longer able to credibly deny the findings of science (the Big Bang and the formation of planets all the way down to the process of evolution), they are instead trying to coopt them, trying to say that all of this glorious happenstance proves the existence of God... the argument is that if one little element had been out of place, none of this would have happened, and therefore it was designed to happen as it did by a Greater Intelligence.

It's too bad that these people don't take to the study of logic with the same zeal. They're setting up the syllogism "Each element of creation is required, and one element out of place would have destroyed it; each element of creation did happen; therefore God created it." But the rules of logic don't allow for a syllogistic conclusion that is not contained in the two premises. In plain English, they're taking the conclusion for granted and trying to fit the argument to the conclusion... when by the rules of logic and scientific method you have to go the other way, fitting the conclusion to the argument.

It is true that, had the Earth formed a few hundred miles in either direction from where it did form, life as we understand it could not have come into existence. If there had been a slight change in temperature in the Sun four billion years ago, life as we understand it could not have come into existence. If one little asteroid had neglected to nudge our moon a few inches further out into space, life as we understand it could not have come into existence. But that doesn't mean anything. To make something of it assumes that life as we understand it was the desired conclusion. If any one of those things had not happened or happened differently, an entirely different chain of events would have come to pass, but we wouldn't be here to observe it... something else would.

It all comes down to the concept of Infinity, a concept that is difficult to grasp. But with only the merest fingerhold on that concept, you can posit that the Reality that we are experiencing is only one of an infinite number of possible realities. If time is eternal in both directions, and space is eternal in all directions, and possible dimensions are eternal in number, and the existence of the universe is eternal, there is no need for a beginning, no need for a primal force to set it all in motion... but nor is there an impossibility of a primal force. It can go either way.

The existence or nonexistence of God in all this science is like a quadratic equation... there are always two possible answers... (x=0 or x=7) and (y=0 or y=3), with 7 and 3 being variable examples. Zero is always a possibility. To say that a discernible pattern proves there is a God is to throw out the possiblity of x and y equaling zero, which you simply cannot do.

Which brings us back to faith. You cannot prove or disprove the existence of God because you cannot define what God is with any scienctific proof. You can only believe or not believe. It is my opinion and belief that God wanted it that way, for the same reason that he allowed us Free Will — but I do not pretend to know what that reason is. I believe that God set the Universe in motion in order to see what happened, because I can comprehend a God of scientific curiosity. I believe that human life is different from animal life in that we can comprehend God; but I don't believe that the comprehension of God is the purpose of God setting the whole thing in motion. That argues a megalomania that I can't comprehend.

But these are beliefs based on my own comprehension; I can't prove any of it... and to even try to prove it would be entering the realm of science and leaving the realm of faith. These things are not mutually exclusive, but they do not meet anywhere... the same way that France and China are not mutually exclusive of each other, but neither do they share any borders. You can have faith, and you can have science, both at the same time... but they cannot be conjoined. That is not their purpose. Science is an exercise of the mind that seeks to observe and define the material world; faith in an exercise of the spirit that seeks to understand and wonder at the immaterial world.

So, these are the things I think about when I'm lying awake in bed at night. If I'm lucky... sometimes I think about what I should have done at work the day before, or what I have to get at the store tomorrow, or what I'm going to wear to the next Living Sober Follies some months from now. My brain is a strange and unsettling place, especially when I'm trying to shut it up so I can go to sleep.

Speaking of which, I feel the need to take a small nap before I resume my envelope-stuffing (which I am fortunately able to do at home so I didn't have to go to the office today). All this cogitation has tired me out.

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