This is a very interesting topic and I’ve quite enjoyed reading the varied opinions and opposing points of view. Since I typically shy away from divisive debates such as this, and lack sufficient knowledge to comment on many of the philosophical, mathematical, and scientific arguments, I’ll simply ask you to indulge me a moment so I may share a wee thought…or two.
After reading this thread over the past couple of days, I’m left with the sense that the core disagreement here is religion, or ‘belief’, versus science, or ‘proven fact’. Also, there seems to be an under current that gives the impression the two are mutually exclusive, which I tend to disagree with. For me personally, the issue boils down to a gray area that science cannot (yet) explain. As an Atheist, I don’t believe in any Deity or religion for several reasons, but mainly because I want to have proof, empirical evidence, testable hypotheses, and elegant theories wrapped around complex equations. The problem is, as exciting and wonderful as all these discoveries are, science too often can only tell us part of the story. For example, we’ve made fantastic progress over the past century in understanding how
the Universe was created and how
the laws of Physics operate, but knowing those facts can’t always tell us why
. In other words, science may be able to explain what
the physical nature of reality is, but so far, it hasn’t been able to offer an explanation as to why
it is exactly this way. At least, it has not done so to my satisfaction.
So how do I reconcile this gap in our current understanding? Why do we exist? What is the true nature of consciousness? For me, these unanswered questions are where faith and beliefs come into play. There is zero doubt in my mind that science is on the right track and it’s the best option we have for uncovering the true nature of our reality. Until that time comes however, all I can say is that I fill this gray area by choosing to have faith…faith that it eventually will be revealed, through science, to be something along the lines of a collective consciousness. That’s the simplest way I can describe it, but I can offer absolutely no testable, observable evidence as the basis for that belief because it’s nothing more than a gut feeling, in many ways inexplicable, and not easily defined. My best friend also embraces science as vigorously as I do, but she has faith it will prove the theories of Christianity and the existence of the one true God, something she believes to be true, also based on nothing more than a gut feeling. Neither of us is in position to argue which belief is ‘right’ because it’s just that…a belief…based on our own subjective experiences, biases, and basic human desire to explain the unexplainable. In the end, since physical death is a sure thing, I figure one day we’ll find out…or maybe not. It would be unfair of me to fail to acknowledge the Agnostics may be right.
One final thought that struck me as I was reading over the different posts is ‘believers’ vs. ‘non-believers’ are too often wrapped up in arguing over semantics, when really, at the end of the day, they are talking about the same thing. I could be way off base, but it’s simply a sense I had that many of the contentious issues were over the label being used, not necessarily the idea itself.
Fin! *slinks back into position as thread lurker*