Now that's reasonable.

Posted: 19 June 2009 in geekery, religion

I don’t believe in the supernatural. At all. Nothing supernatural exists.

I believe in the natural. Everything is natural. Science can, given enough time, explain everything rationally without the need for some supernatural force.  Anything that is as of yet unexplained is simply a reflection on our lack of knowledge, not on its unexplainability.

This is my grand indictment of all religions: Science and Reason can explain anything. Miracles? Science and Reason can explain them (either they’re hearsay and fabrications, or there’s a scientific explanation for them). Ghosts? Science and Reason can explain them.

Here’s where I’m going to cop out of a complete explanation: Dark Energy. Physical cosmology posits that 22% of the universe is comprised of dark matter, 74% is dark energy, and only 4% is ordinary matter. Scientists admit that 96% of the universe exists in a state that they simply don’t understand. I don’t need to believe in an all-powerful deity, because Science tells me that I still don’t understand practically anything. I don’t see that as a reason to fill that void with a god.  Not understanding something does not mean it cannot eventually be understood.  When I was five I didn’t understand algebra, but that doesn’t mean that algebra is some metaphysical unknowable (even though I may at one point have believed that)

Let’s take Arthur C. Clarke’s three laws:

  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

That last one is the driving force in my personal worldview.

Let’s say, for instance, that you’re in the basement, changing a blown fuse, and suddenly you and your flashlight are whisked off to the year 1387. You meet a villager, who marvels over your flashlight. You explain to them that it’s simply two batteries and a light bulb. Do they, even after years of explanation, accept your simple explanation?

Nope, they burn you at the stake for harnessing demons in little metal cylinders.

We stopped burning people at the stake in the early 1800’s, but the concept is still there. Claiming to be able to explain the afterlife? Don’t try getting that paper published. But why can’t science explain the afterlife? Like I said, 96% of the Universe is a mystery.

So, does your god exist? Maybe, but at some point, science will be able to measure, quantify and categorize it to the point that while it’ll be powerful, it won’t be, well… godly. Not any more than a man is to an ant.

So where does all that other stuff from the title fit in? Let’s tackle prayer. People have posited that prayer has power. That their deity answers prayers. There’s scientific evidence that people in surgery that are prayed for fare better than those that aren’t.

Science can explain it, and it doesn’t need to use E=MCGod to do it. It’s a basic matter of energy transference. It is the same thing as magic: the willful manipulation of reality. “God” just becomes the focus, the conduit. Prayer, in my mind, is the biggest argument against an all-powerful deity. Why would an all-powerful deity even need lowly humans to pray for anything? Wouldn’t he/she/it just do it? “Please save my dog, God!” “Well, I wasn’t going to, but now that you’ve asked!”

Prayer is a self-fulfilling prophecy. “I prayed, nothing happened, God has a plan”. “I prayed, it was answered, God is looking out for me”. I reject that. Prayer is magic. It’s the willful manipulation of reality. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Eventually, I am confident that science will be able to explain it. When that happens, prayer will become more powerful, because then we’ll know exactly how to do it right.

  1. Josh says:

    The evolution of the human consciousness is a curious thing, and seems to run parallel to our growing understanding of the universe. Only 4% of the universe is actual matter, and human beings exist in multiple states but are only consciously aware of one of them most of the time. From a Jungian standpoint, we exist as the Self most of the time, but that doesn’t stop the Shadow and the Anima/Animus from being constantly present, not unlike the presence of dark matter/energy despite our inability to understand it. Is there a connection there? That’s a discussion in and of itself.

    I think that “God” is an arbitrary label for that which we do not understand but it’s just as good as any, and could be considered shorthand for “dark matter, dark energy, and the darkness of the unconscious.” As a Christian, I have to wonder where Christ fits into this, and the more I think about it, the more I believe that, if Christ wasn’t truly Divine with a capital D, then he had a deeper understanding of himself and the universe and tried to relate that understanding to others in ways they could comprehend. I don’t think that makes him any less worthy of reverence.

    Theism isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Differences in culture, language and tradition mean that people all over the world have been calling the same thing very different names since the race grasped speech. It’s over-zealous, narrow-minded theism we need to avoid. The tenets and teachings of every walk of faith has something to teach us, and we as individuals choose what guidelines to follow and which to ignore – what is “true” to us, and what is “untrue.”

    For myself, the lion’s share of my beliefs fall into a Christian mindset after a great deal of contemplation, therefore I still consider myself a Christian and will use Christian terminology, props and incantations. Others might do the same thing I do but call it Buddhism or Judaism or even atheism. The names don’t matter, the end result of our actions and meditations does, and if more people could understand that, we’d have folk shooting each other over these things a lot less often.

    TL,DR: It’s not necessarily a case of “There is no God,” but more “God isn’t what you think.”

  2. Fiat Lex says:

    Còmhradh, your views on this matter are so nearly identical with my own, and so clearly stated, that I am adding you to my blogroll. And props for quoting all three of Clarke’s laws!

  3. Fiat Lex says:

    :) You are well deserving. I found you on Personal Failure‘s sidebar. She tends to have excellent taste.

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