Saturday, February 9, 2013

This Debate. (Here we go again...)

Oh, it is so on...
Atheists remind us pew-sitting scripture monkeys that religion is the pure invention of Man's mind--all of it, including the part about the "Jewish Zombie". I wish to avoid bitterly complaining about the lack of civility towards religion. But if I think about some of the religious right's more infamous spokespeople, who come off like the carnies lined up at the state fair to cajole us into a try at the ring toss or a quick gander at the two headed cow fetus stored in the back, well then we probably deserve a great deal of that heat.

Still, the hatred and mockery of religion (not too strong a description), while rooted in a foundation of dismay I can agree with, has strayed of late into the territory of hyperbole. What I see is a new wave of atheism ramping up out there: a full on frontal attack to not correct but to dismantle faith in God. Amusing and inventive billboards and multi-media campaigns. Take no prisoners. Maher, Dawkins, and the late Christopher Hitchens once led the charge with the same intensity as Pat Robertson, Fred Phelps and the late Jerry
Falwell. Now neo-atheism has thousands of new minions who have jumped on their bandwagon. "No God? Great! Finally! Science will be our truth." I have no qualms with science. But the legions (sorry) take up that banner with the same hypocrisy as the aforementioned parade of hard right religious commentators. Like religion, science can be used to justify your philosophies: Global warming? Fracking? Abortion? Rendition? Born gay, or not? Conservation of natural resources? The Master Race? Stem cell research? The evil gene? Like religion, science can support your heart's content: sexual escapades or pop culture narcissism (No, really, you look great in those skinny jeans), but science won't scold you with guilt but it might explain the genital warts.
You can't touch this.

If religion is the product of Man's collective imagination, what then is science but the product of Man's imagination. (Someone reading this at MIT just now had a stroke. Call 911.) I'm certain the argument will go out fast and furious back at me like a drone strike that science is unlike religion because science is the laws of physics (discovered by Man over the last few thousand years) and these laws have long existed before this planet, and even this galaxy, were formed. I merely suggest for discussion that science, as the study of these laws of physics, is a creation of Man. We discovered them, bit by bit, labeled them, categorize them, and built upon them, watching our understanding of the universe morph exponentially.

Oh, it is so on...
And yet, screaming through the fabric of time and space, I hear the argument that science is the pursuit of tangible physical evidence, whereas religion is NOT. Why? Because there is no observable or tangible evidence to support the tenants of religion, and so, therefore, science is NOT the creation of man but merely the uncovering of observable qualities that for the moment may be identified but their full capacity may remain elusive to us. (Do I have that right?) But if these laws of physics have existed long before our arrival in time and space, please explain who exactly forged the physics in the first place. You might argue that these laws just simply...ARE, or to quote from scripture "I AM THAT I AM". In kind, the physics that move and shape the universe could famously utter "I AM THAT I AM" because the physics mandates the operation of the universe. This all leads me back to the earlier question: if we discovered the laws of physics, who or what created these laws of physics so that we can have galaxies, blackholes, quasars, dark matter--all the way down to their infinitesimal parts for which we've created the Large Hadron Collider to identify?

Beyond our noses is a universe of knowledge we haven't yet shed light on. But so far, strict order is a primary tenant of the laws of physics. It's not chaos we're discovering, not higgledy-piggledy but an orderly process. I offer to you that order is a tenant of intelligence, not of unconsciousness. Something must be guiding the process of, say, gravity, which cannot be sampled like one might a molecule or a quark. Gravitons are theorized but no such "creature" has been "sighted" or slid beneath a microscope, even though there are allowable measurements as to the size of an object and its influence on other objects. (Correct?)

So what of this Big Bang theory? I understand the mockery aimed at the stories of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden and a god who created the earth and the heavens in six days and on the seventh he took a break. Yet, let's consider this Big Bang theory for more than a nanosecond: the universe suddenly exploded into life out of a primordial substance of intense heat. All of this that I see in the night sky, and what the Hubble provides, exploding out of one single soup of stuff? I think the Greeks did it better when they had Cronus giving birth to the twelve Gods out of his head. (Call Ridley Scott; have great movie idea--oh, he already did it?) And what of string theory? How phantasmagorical can you get by suggesting that there isn't one universe but multiverses with multiple copies of ourselves throughout them like that Jet Li movie, The One? And how easy it is to *cough* at the very idea that invisible objects in space are so massive their gravity prevents light from escaping. Sure it sounds cool, like a nice science fiction story, eh? You can't see these blackholes but as scientists tell us, we can "sense their presence by observing erratic behavior in other visible stars". That, and they also emit tremendous amounts of electromagnetic energy...but you can't see the invisible object causing these anomalies. At all. Can't. See. It.

Wasn't last night's show funny?

Okay, so let's recap: you believe in this Big Bang idea of the entire universe exploding into life from a pool of stuff and you adhere to this theory of multiple universes popping in and out of existence (Bad Spock/Good Spock) and you're of the fervent devotion that blackholes, supermassive ones, reside in the centers of our galaxies, but you just can't see them, but you "know" they exist by observing indicators that point to--at this moment in time--an assumption that leads to further intensive study? Do I have that right? *low sliding whistle* This sounds like you have all this evidence gathered up, do you, and you've put it into writing, and from these writings you have congregated yourselves into enclaves of study in which you recruit and train more believers--

The good reverend working to save your soul; pray the cage holds
Okay, I'll stop there. You can see the very silly parallel I'm drawing; how did these scientific observations evolve into laws governing the universe? The science we all love and study is our own creation, our own type of church and worship, and those who do go forth are of this house of faith of the belief it all leads to truth and light. In religion, our faith in a God is based on tangible evidence that draws us forward into more inquiry. I can briefly illustrate this as personal testimony or observances that mean nothing to anyone by my own person. This can only be appreciated by others who see and gain their own testimony of observable evidence. Example: if I say there is a God, this has no bearing on others that a God exists. If I believe that the planet is 4.5 billion years old and 64 million years separate Dino from Fred and Wilma it is because I have heard the testimony of others who have this knowledge. They explain it to me, the whole she-bang of carbon dating, fossil records and in me it registers a great deal of plausibility. But at some point, as I try to relate this to others, I need to have my own witness, I must engage in my own education. Thus, I read and study and gain a greater testimony of the science. The tangible evidence that scientists gather will mean nothing to the layperson else unless they pick it up, study it and accept it and then take up the cause of further exploration for truth and light.

Now a question, what are we going to do with our new found faith? Will we make bombs or medicine, drones or MRIs, will we oppress others for our gratification or uplift them for their own? Sadly for some folks, science never sets a toe inside the front door: If God decrees it, assuming they understand God's will, the debate is over. Granted, I'll take Heavenly Father's wisdom over Man's, as I have enough of a testimony to comprehend that He knows best. However, the science in the observable universe are in his domain and he chooses to reveal them to us as he sees fit (Montgolfiers to the Wrights to Goddard to von Braun) but a great deal of the distance we make is contingent on our collective pursuits as humans.

Science is for our betterment. It has given us The Constitution (science covers many fields), mass transportation, mass communication and medical technology, to name a tiny few. Continued wars, military or cultural, will avail us nothing except to bog us down scientifically as well as spiritually and impede our exploration on both fronts. Unless we can demonstrate to Heavenly Father just what we will do with the great power we have inherited from him, we will never fulfill the full measure of our creation. We will suffer the flip-side of that coin.

One day, if we are true and faithful, all that Heavenly Father has will be ours, to use it as he does, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of our own children, on new worlds within galaxies yet to be created by our hands.

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