Thursday, June 17, 2010

Science and religion

Listening to "Speaking of Faith" on a topic that fascinates me, juxtaposing science and religion. Especially cosmic science and physics, and religion. It's interesting because someone who is a scientist and not religious really refuses to be pinned down about the whole "God" question, except in the most general way: that the universe does seem to have been made in quite an amazingly organized fashion, and that we seem hard-wired to tune into that organization through disciplines like mathematics. This remote God that set everything in motion is Einstein's God.

I read a book by Carl Sagan that I could not finish, where he used his brilliant, logical mind to deconstruct the whole human concept of God, brick by brick. (The book was actually a series of lectures he had presented on the topic of God and science, I believe.) I had to leave it behind without finishing it. I found it deeply depressing. I think I had just arrived at the point where he was ready to make an important concession, that the way the universe is so strongly tilted toward life strongly implies the presence of an intelligent creator. But that wasn't enough consolation for me.

Likewise, the religious person refuses to believe where plain science seems to point -- that any higher consciousness planned it all out long ago, set it in motion, and left the universe to its own devices. No personal, daily God meddling in human or any other affairs. This makes sense in explaining why bad things happen; there's no device to prevent bad things, as well as good things. But the universe seems to favor order over chaos, on balance, and it seems to lean heavily in favor of life proliferating and becoming more complex.

So, these different human disciplines -- religion, science, and the arts -- do they actually overlap at all? It's hard to tell. How strange that people can exist entirely in one orbit without conceiving of the others. Or people do seem to be able to get into different orbits, i.e., scientists who love art or are musicians, but I'm not sure that those different pursuits really inform one another or guide one another. They are such different languages; yet, they are all human conventions, in a way, shaped by the creativity of the human mind itself. Even God is measured by human language and worship forms. A different creation would need a different conception of God. Our God is a reflection of our own image. (Or does that really mean that we make God in our image?)

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