For a while now I tend to approach conversations about religion vs. science with a bit of weariness because it feels sometimes like the topic has become touchier and touchier over time – people have become (a) more vocal on both sides and (b) more thin skinned generally speaking.
But a little while ago I got into a conversation with someone over at Google+ (yes, I’m one of the few that still roam those silent halls, it’s kinda nice and quiet actually…) and it was an interesting one. It made me articulate a lot of what I feel about religions that I hadn’t in some time and it made me want to gather up all the thoughts and put them here.
Below is the response I had to being told things like “See you don’t believe in a creator but do you believe in a multi universe…” and “So something comes from nothing” and similar queries as to my view on things:
…I don’t think it’s as simple as people try to make it out to be. Nor as simple as you’re saying for me.
I don’t believe in a creator the way religions define them – and I mean any religion at all. Because they make the Gods human and us the centre of all existence by default.
Truth is, given what we know of JUST the part of the universe we can observe (and there’s way more beyond our cosmic horizon we can’t even see yet), the chances that we are the ultimate creation of a being capable of creating said near-boundless and MASSIVE universe? Highly unlikely man, just saying. To me that’s a level of hubris that I find… troubling, to say the least.
And it’s not that I don’t believe in “god/s”, I just believe that though there could be such a thing, i.e, a conscious force that is behind or drives everything, that permeates all existence and is omnipotent. BUT I also believe that if such a thing existed, to it we are maybe as important as one spoonful of sand on the beach or something. To think that such a being that is connected to this vast cosmic beach would even be aware of us, let alone be focussed on us (and as individual tiny humans even more so) and how we conduct ourselves is a bit self-delusional/self-aggrandisement to me and is REALLY an inflated ego thing. Not saying it to be judge-y against anyone, hey I freely admit that neither side has a definitive case for or against the existence of such a being, so while I lean in my view toward one, I don’t just say “bullshit” to the other – I respect a faith and a world view, but reserve the right to hold my own and debate (as you and I are) about the merits or demerits of both sides openly and in a safe, friendly chat.
Next: I never said something comes from nothing – but let’s be honest, that is the case no matter which side you’re on. The big bang, repeating universes, multiverses, they all assume there was mainly nothingness and a small something that exploded giving us this. Religion assumes there was nothing (or something silly-sounding as some pagan ones can be to us more modern folks) and then god or gods created what we know – but the simple question then is why and where did those gods come from? Something must have created it/them? There’s no reason why such a being should be just… there… in nothingness with that kind of power. IF ANYTHING, I feel that both sides are effectively saying the same thing in a way: There was basically nothing and something of immense contained, concentrated power was there somehow, the only thing in nothing – and that spread outward either by chance or intent and became the cosmos as we know it.
And as for what happens to us and souls and all that – I personally think that when religions talk about souls, it’s like when scientists talk about Dark Matter or Quantum strings and Multiverses. It’s a theory. We cannot prove or disprove, we can guess and assume. BUT what we do know is that all matter and energy in everything in existence can never be truly destroyed, just changed. So whatever we are when we’re “alive” is one state of being and when we die, we become another – we just don’t know what that is, nor do we know what we were before we came from the vast nothing that makes up the universe and from a sperm and an egg became this complex being that lived and created and thought and felt.
I think it freaks people out to think about things like that and that’s why they argue and fight instead of just accepting that we all interpret the world in a multitude of ways.
Perhaps it would be better if on both sides we accepted two points: (a) The scientific perspective/approach that all science is not correct 100% and it is a learning process where we learn more things like the laws of physics, etc, over time and gain a better understanding – and by the same token (b) Religion is not absolute either.
The basics may be fine, and you are entitled to hold your faith, but religions are still basically men trying to interpret what they don’t really know and like science, over time, our understanding of things grows – and so we have to be willing to change there as well. Things like: no more child-brides or men being allowed to beat the crap out of their wives or being able to eat what you want or have sex with who you want or whatever else social evolution we do/have done since the birth millenia ago of these religions.
We don’t always have to agree, but we can respect that everyone has the right to live their view so long as they don’t impose it on others. Keep the bulk of it out of my face and basically live and let live.
As a non-religious person, I never would tell someone to not believe. I would not keep shoving my pro-science and anti-religion view or such aggressively down someones throat – though sometimes the zealots with hateful, prejudicial or questionably moral hardline views bring out the aggressor in me…
I also admit that Im not 100% on the right side. But I also know I’m not at all on the “wrong side” in this matter.
I believe that living and letting live should be the ultimate goal for us to get better and be better.