I wasn’t far from throwing this book in the trash at times. Essay after essay from scientists condemning “God” as the dangerous idea that stands as the blockade to mankind and her progress. Blah blah blah. Be devoted to science, and the scientific method of discovery, but don’t be one-dimensional, dogmatic and closed-minded. There will always be more to life than what we can reverse-engineer.
Still, there are many juicy parts to it. There are enough fresh ideas sprinkled among the chaff to keep you going. If nothing else, it’s a great bathroom reader, sliced into essays small enough to be easily consumed one or four at a time. And besides, something that immediately riles you up and disturbs you is likely worthy of some additional attention.
So let’s take a moment to address the “God delusion” movement, represented not only by several essays, but by the recent media-covered backlash from the “persecuted atheist”, personified through the likes of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. The characterization of atheists as the latest victimized minority just doesn’t ring true, and the reason can be summed up in a word: smugness. The arrogant dogmatic atheist decries that the majority is delusional, and expects understanding from them in response? Compassion and tolerance should be doled out generously, but when you label a large group as delusional, expect some intellectual backlash.
So what gives me my confidence in the existence of God (other than the rote answer “faith”, which must sound like a cop-out to an atheist…)? The beauty of all that surrounds me. That’s the bottom line. Maybe it’s a spirituality gene that separates us into those that feel a real divine presence when simply communing with nature and those that don’t, I don’t know. There’s also Darwin’s admission that the fossil record is pathetic, the impossibility of the world “falling up” to incredibly intricate levels against the grain of the second law of thermodynamics, the unfathomable distances of time used as the crutch. That’s the way I see it anyway.
When the scientist reaches the bottom of her petri dish, and discovers that there are deep mysteries there yet to be explained, I would hope it would spurn her onward toward further exploration, yet I would also hope that there would be some spark in her that would give her pause, a brief moment for wonder and awe.
Taking this a step further, let’s put aside atheist preconceptions for a minute. Start with the Fermi Paradox: given the 100 billion stars in our galaxy, and the statistically foregone conclusion that on some not insignificant number of them, extraterrestrial life should have developed to the point of mastering interstellar travel, why have we not been contacted by an alien race yet? Maybe it has developed, maybe they have contacted us, in a cautious manner. Or maybe they even created us, and then ensured that no other life forms contact us. We’re their great big petri dish. The “Fermi Paradox Creationism Theory”. Let that be the seed of doubt in the atheists’ religion, until one of our great-great-great-grandchildren can prove otherwise. It won’t happen in our lifetimes.
So now all religions can have a source of doubt. I feel much better. :>
Besides, it seems to me that there is no difference between the new atheist warriors, the power-hungry fundamentalist religious right that has decimated this country’s morality over the course of the Bush administration’s reign of terror, and the extremist Islamic terrorists that give them all the fuel they need – they are, all of them, zealots.
Getting back to the book, my favorite essay was the one that mentioned the Fermi Paradox, and offered the following explanation: in the future, we evolve down our current path far enough that we climb up our own brainstems, saturating ourselves with consumptive entertaining pleasures. We neglect progress, we neglect exploration, we even neglect our offspring. A fascinating thought, considering we’ve already traveled down that path some distance.
Check the book out, and let me know what’s your favorite pick! And give me your divinity philosophies if you’ve got any. We’re all in this ball of confusion together and I sure don’t mean to sound like I have all the answers. Besides, I wrote some of this during some seriously delusional cancer-fighting moments – there’s certainly something on which you can straighten me out! :>