Thursday, December 15, 2005

Religion is the Wisdom of the Ages

Long, long ago, before your mother or your grandfather were born child, before humans began to use wheels to move things about, before anyone had learned that the earth is a sphere, before humans knew about electricity and magnetism, before we understood that the contenents drift about on the surface of our globe following the currents deep within Earth's surface, the smartest people in the tribe were assigned the task of speculating about the causes for the events around them: earthquakes, lightning, seasons, wild animals, agriculture, the sun and the moon and other thing which we now know are formed through natural causes. But they had no way of knowing because they lacked the technology to investigate thoroughly. Their mind was their main investigative tool. Most of the phenomena they witnessed were so terrible and awesome that they ascribed them to magical beings who, depending on their emotional state at the moment, could either grow the crops or bring a drought. These beings could kill an infant in its sleep or hurl thunderbolts down from on high. They could be pleased or displeased with our behavior and bring abundance or dearth accordingly.

As time went on, those wisest among us began to make discoveries into how our natural world worked. They discovered that the earth is a planet and not the "firmament" upon which all things are built. They discovered that it revolves around the sun and that the other planets do too. They discovered the properties of electricity and eventually they discovered the elements. What they observed became so complicated they invented new math and better ways to observe and measure the world around us until the idea that magic could influence our natural world became a colloquial fantasy, one not shared by those who seriously investigated the fundamental nature of our universe.

The great mythologies which had served so well before became quaint and one by one they fell out of favor. Who among us still believes that Zeus or Thor hurls the thunderbolts? Who among us believes that Achilles or Jesus were the product of a god and a human? We understand now that that doesn't happen. We know that even if we blaspheme an old god, the floods will not come down to punish our towns. With that knowledge came a difficult responsibility; we had to police our own actions. Since we know that we will not be punished by a god or gods for our transgressions, we must learn how to satisfy our wants and desires while still living together in society in relative harmony using just our moral sense to guide us. We must discover the rules that work to keep society working. Many of those rules can be found in the moral code of the ancient mythologies including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and the like. We should not forget that this information is brought to us by the smartest people of their times. It is, in fact, the wisdom of the ages.

But now our investigations, though they have shattered the myths of creation, have created equally as profound of questions as those proposed by religion. The unfortunate and difficult part is that, although investigation can show us some of what the universe is like, it has yet to tell us why. In all likelihood, we will never know the mind of god because it is simply outside our experiential world. We do, however, know that superstitions that attribute magical causes to events in our history are unfounded and false.

Intelligent design could do very well as the principle for the creation of the universe as a whole but in terms of what happened after that, it falls only into the realm of superstition. The wisest among us are now pursuing the same goal as always, just now the method has been refined and we call it science.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Vacuous minds make vacuous thoughts

Vacuous minds make vacuous thoughts. THe air rushes in to equalize the pressure. DI-ID people are right: the universe does seem designed. It does. If you consider that space and time are rushing out into something that is neither space nor time in a giant shock wave of orgasmic release, that from a singularity which could aptly be referred to as an idea all the particles are born and get cooked in star ovens to become the wonderful cakes and pastries of planets and ultimately life, that if you are travelling the speed of light and you hold up a mirror, you can’t see yourself because you haven’t happened yet, that these are frightening thoughts because we are so small and helpless in the face of this awesome and terrible reality, then you begin to see that a god that can exist within these bounds that is really only a little bigger than our solar system, that can hold our hand as our parent should have when we were frightened children, whether this god is a fancy is unimportant, this god must be there because we simply couldn’t bear it if it weren’t true, and the real god, the god that lit the fuse on the giant firecracker is a terrible and fearsome god and most of us have not reached the critical juncture where we can meet this god face to face, unafraid of our cosmic insignificance. So we deny the existance of this god using duplicitous arguments and encouraging hate and fear in those who would listen to us, those who, like us, are utterly unable to allow that we are alone on this journey, are unable to smile as our lives and the lives of the ones we love snuff out after some infitesimal blip on the cosmic timeline. It is a terrible burden, to know that we must love with all our might while we are alive because there is no rulebook for loving at the other side of the singularity which we all share in loneliness and alone, life.

So, although the arguments are false, although the motives are fear and the method’s are fear’s twin brother hate and their cousin anger, although they seek to shut out the noise of those who would examine what they see, although they would rage against their terrible, inevitable loss, they ultimately will collapse under the weight of their own fear. THe light will become too bright and they will retreat into their caves and gaze at the shadows of life cast on the rear wall, not dark enough to cover the art, handpainted on the walls that claims that there is a purpose that can be known.

And those of us that choose instead to follow the light, will have to find happiness only in the fact that it feels better to be happy. Not for any other reason. We can still see the hand of god, but we won’t be able to presume to know it’s motivations.

Yee Haw.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Contest Winner!

Andrew wins the guess the Passage contest from a while ago. Yeah Andrew and he even told us how to tell deuteronomy passages:
because it's a weird rule with horrifically violent punishments for breaking it.

I'm sorry it took so long Andrew but You can finally bask in the glory.

Science faces 'dangerous times'

In his final speech as president of the Royal Society, Lord May of Oxford will say scientists must speak out against the climate change "denial lobby". Here is the article.

THis article touched a nerve with me. I found it as a link on a blog by a guy calling himself "odograph" where he and I (I think it's a he) and a guy named ralph had a brief discussion. You can read that here.

Some of the things he says just make me want to cry when I think of what we partly are as a species. Other times I shrug it off to just the way things are. I, unfortunately possibly, have a hard time shrugging it off. It is the basic point of this whole blog. That no one seems to be commenting on it much leads me to wonder if I am in the minority. Nevertheless. AAARRRGGGHHH!!!!!!!!

"There are serious problems that derive from the realities of the external world: climate change, loss of biological diversity, new and re-emerging diseases, and more.

"Many of these threats are not yet immediate, yet their non-linear character is such that we need to be acting today. "And we have no evolutionary experience of acting on behalf of a distant future; we even lack basic understanding of important aspects of our own institutions and societies.
"Sadly, for many, the response is to retreat from complexity and difficulty by embracing the darkness of fundamentalist unreason."

'Denial lobby'

Lord May will say that fundamentalism applies not only to organised religions but to lobby groups on both sides of the climate change debate.

The climate change "denial lobby" and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) opposed to nuclear power are not exempt from a denial or misrepresentation of scientific facts, he told reporters in London.