Wednesday, March 08, 2006

the scientific believer

since coming to MIT, my mind has been stretched in many ways. combined with a general distancing from my SBC childhood heritage, i've spent the last few years deconstructing and reconstrcuting much of my philosophy on life. this has been a difficult process, made more so because i've often felt like i'm doing it alone.

recently, however, i feel that i've really started to come back to a more wholistic view, incorporating much of the scientific approach i've learned at MIT, while still being able to account for the wondrous nature of a lot of christian thought. this process has brought me to a place where i feel like i can communicate with most christians who believe in the 'other' supernatural world (the kind of belief that most MIT people would scoff at), while internally i interpret what they're saying into a more scientific understanding. this has meant that when i'm in a conversation, i take what the other person is saying, and internally interpret it into words that (most often) the other person would find reprehensible, while it all makes sense to me. this sort of dichotomy has, in my opinion, given me some insight to the rift that exists between spiritualists and naturalists, and so i've lately been wanting to create some writings that would highlight this apparent tension.

so today, i offer up this mock-conversation between a non-believer and a believer, on the subject of whether or not God exists. such a conversation is fairly representative of what's been going on in my mind for the past year. it's not quite fight club, but hopefully you'll find it somewhat interesting.


the non-believer says:
    there is no god. god is an invention, a figment, of the human mind, created to help humans account for their lack of knowledge in the universe. god is the catch-all used by humans to explain everything they don't know, or can't explain. this concept of god has been fairly useful for humans, for otherwise they might go crazy attempting to explain all that they can't account for. fortunately, science is slowly etching away at this vast unknown, and one day humanity's efforts will be able to explain much of what is unaccounted for today.

    life's course is determined by two things: chance and human will power. there is no such thing as the "hand of god" guiding you. all that's guiding you is your own desires. when those desires work out, you attribute it to god. when they don't, you create another ficticious character, the devil, to account for your bad decisions. in the end, the course of each person's life is dependent on the choices that that person makes, not on some unseen, 'divine' power.


the believer says:
    you say there's no god, and that's fine. i can't force you to believe in a god. i can, however, compell you to look at the track record of the existence of life. look at your own life, and look at how you've been successful. you obviously had to conduct your life in such a manner as to get to this point. how do you account for this positive growth? can chance alone beget order? in my mind, i understand your point about being able to explain away life in terms of probabilities. however, the fact is that there are certain rules and laws in this world (which science has discovered), that if followed result in growth and life. while chance seems to be key in determining direction of an individual's life, chance still cannon trump these rules. yes, the world does seem to be determined by chance, but it's determined by chance within the confines of a universe that has unforgiveable rules. these rules determine what survives and what dies.

    now, go look at the history of religion, and see how religion, although most of the time has resulted in great evil, has also resulted in the adoption of many of these rules for the betterment of humanity. and look at how these rules have benefited mankind. the fact that these rules exist, and that they result in the survival of adherents, indicates to me some sense of direction. it is this sense of direction that i believe points towards something greater than ourselves. this sense of direction points towards life, towards order, towards harmony. this sense of direction is what points us towards "God". if God doesn't exist, then how does order triumph over chance?

    i won't argue that believing in something else, like God, isn't difficult. it's very difficult. however, at then end of the day, when i step away from looking at the 'data', i see a pattern. and it is the existence of this pattern, this direction towards survival and life, that leads me to believe that there is an order in the universe. i readily admit that it is my choice to attribute this order to some greater force. but i will also point out that this choice has worked for ages, and continues to work, even in the face of opposing views. if the choice to believe in a God makes life easier, then why is this such a bad thing? could it not be that such belief gives a person a better sense of direction? could it not be that belief in God spurs one on towards actions that result in the proliferation of life? and if this process actually works, then how can you say God doesn't exist? the very fact that this process works is all the proof you need.


i'm not sure if any of this even makes sense to someone else outside of my mind. however, this is what's been going on inside for quite some time, so i offer it up and would be interested to hear what you have to say.

12 comments:

Mike said...

thanks for sharing that. as the "other" "super-naturalist" i find it interesting. i do now wonder how you reinterpret our "bloger-sations." but then again, this explains why you and i seem (in my opinion) to be simultaneously on the same page and in two different realities.

ha ha.


the blog map thing is cool.

kidpositive said...

thanks. as for your wondering about how i interpret things, what i think you can take for granted is that every person interprets things differently; we're all individuals. the key, at least for me, is to not discard the other person's viewpoint solely because it doesn't line up with yours. of course, i feel that this applies only if both parties are willing to accept that position. it's very hard to accept the other person's viewpoint when they are blatantly discarding yours without any consideration.

i think we all live in different realities. i see this when i talk with others, when i go to our church, when i'm at school. i see people talk about God and "use" scripture in ways that i couldn't and still be honest with myself. but it works for them. and that's what i need to respect. and when i respect that, and work instead to interpret, i find that communication is much easier.

maybe one of the biggest causes of division between groups and within communities is people's unwillingness to understand others. this 'big cause' is something that could be easily remedied by following Jesus' teaching to love each other. amazing how so many things come back to such simple teachings.

Mike said...

nah dude, it is way easier to just be a jerk and hateful and label people as "other."

kidpositive said...

and what you just said highlights what most people do. i'm serious...the gospel, in my opinion, is much lighter of a burden than we make it out to be. while i believe that, i'm sure many others would scoff at me. it's amazing in its simplicity, and yet we have such a hard time accepting that. we try to expand it into so many compartments. i've definitely been doing that, and most likely will continue in different ways. but through everything i've been learning, it's all brought me back to Jesus' teaching on loving one another. until we get that, we ain't got nothing...

derailuer said...

the believer says:
you say there's no god, and that's fine. i can't force you to believe in a god.
WRONG THERE. IF YOU LOOK A THE HISTORY OF RELIGION ITS ALL ABOUT SUBMISSION AND ACCEPTENCE. THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH FAITH OR SPIRITUALITY
i can, however, compell you to look at the track record of the existence of life.
WHAT HAS THAT GOT TO DO WITH SPIRITUALITY? YOU ARE COMPARING APPLES AND ORANGES SO TO SPEAK
look at your own life, and look at how you've been successful. you obviously had to conduct your life in such a manner as to get to this point.
AGREED. ITS ABOUT CHOICES
how do you account for this positive growth?
THE SAME AS I DO THE NEGATIVE. AGAIN . ITS ABOUT CHOICES AS LONG AS THERE IS A DUALITY OF CONSCIOUSNESS THERE WILL ALWAYS BE CHOICES FOR ENQUIRY
can chance alone beget order?
DEPENDS ON WHAT YOU APPLY IT TO
in my mind, i understand your point about being able to explain away life in terms of probabilities. however, the fact is that there are certain rules and laws in this world (which science has discovered), that if followed result in growth and life. while chance seems to be key in determining direction of an individual's life, chance still cannon trump these rules.
IF YOU ABANDON YOUR PRESENT FORMAT OF WHAT IS OR WHAT ISNT IT MOST CERTAINLY CAN. [ NON LINEAR DYNAMICS IS A GOOD FIELD TO PRESENT THIS AS FACTUAL] BUT NOT ABSOLUTE.
yes, the world does seem to be determined by chance, but it's determined by chance within the confines of a universe that has unforgiveable rules. these rules determine what survives and what dies.
UNFORGIVABLE?? CMON . THAT’S SUCH A ROMANTIC SWEEPING GENERALIZATION, AND ALMOST LUDICROUS
now, go look at the history of religion, and see how religion, although most of the time has resulted in great evil, has also resulted in the adoption of many of these rules for the betterment of humanity.
WELL SURE. FORCE ANY MAINSTREAM GROUP OF INTELLECTUAL DEPRIVED SPIRITUAL CRETINS LOOKING FOR INSPIRATION INTO SOMETHING BEYOND THEIR OWN CONSCIOUSNESS THROUGHT SUBMISSION AND CALL IT FAITH . AND ITS NOT LIKE THEY HAD A CHOICE.. WELL THEY ACTUALLY DID. JUST LOOK AT THE HISTORY OF THE CHURCH. .AND YOU WILL SEE. IT USUALLY RESULTED IN DEATH BY TORTURE. . THAT’S BETTERMENT?? AND LOOK AT HOW THESE RULES HAVE BENEFITED MANKIND.
I LIKED IT ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY TORTURED SCIENTISTS FOR EXAMPLE WHEN THEY SAID THE WORLD WAS ROUND AND NOT FLAT. THAT WAS A REAL BENEFIT WASN’T IT?? AND THAT’S ONLY ONE EXAMPLE OF THOUSANDS.
the fact that these rules exist, and that they result in the survival of adherents, indicates to me some sense of direction.
THEY [ THE PEOPLE ] SURVIVED BECAUSE THEY KEPT THEIR MOUTH SHUT. CAUSE THEY KNEW IF THEY WENT AGAINST THE RULES IT WOULD BE DEATH FOR SURE
it is this sense of direction that i believe points towards something greater than ourselves.
YUP. ITS CALLED CONTROL. A CESSPOOL OF MEDIOCRITY CALLED RELIGION AS A COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS THAT DOMINATED THROUGH FEAR TACTICS DISTORTED DOGMA, AND A WARPED SENSE OF MORALITY

this sense of direction points towards life,
IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH LIFE. LIFE HAS ITS OWN ORDER WITH OUT DOCTRINE. IT HAD NO DOCTRINE IN ITS ORIGION
towards order,
DEFINE ORDER~!!!!!!!!!!!

towards harmony.
HOW CAN YOU CLASSIFY SUBMISSION [ AS OBVIOULSY POINTED OUT IN HISTORY] AS ORDER??
this sense of direction is what points us towards "God"
your right there . but you don’t define GOD.what you define is a CONCEPT a PRECEPT or A NOTION of what IS.
THAT’S NOT GOD. THAT S A CONCEPT A PRECEPT OR A NOTION . BASED IN EGO PRODUCING ACTIVITY. WHICH IS BASED IN DUALITY WHICH IS NECESSARY FOR THE EGO TO CONFIRM ITS EXISTENCE.. “ GOD” IS BEYOND ALL DUALITY AND INDIVISIBLE.. YOU ARE TALKING TWO DIFFERENT STANDARDS. . SO PLEASE CLARIFY WHAT YOU ARE ADDRESSING..
if God doesn't exist, then how does order triumph over chance?
DID YOU EVER HEAR OF COMMON SENSE?

kidpositive said...

sprockets - you seem really angry.

derailuer said...

dude you say
sprockets - you seem really angry.
I SAY.
GOOD GRIEF. CMON LIGHTEN UP!!!!
IM TOTALLY HARMLESS BUT A BIT INTENSE.
DONT CONFUSE THE TWO. . IF YOU ASK A QUESTION AND EXPECT RESPONSE. LEARN TO UNDERSTAND THE NATURE OF ANOTHER PERSONS EXPRESSION. BUT TO SAY "" ANGRY". IS SILLY..
BUT THEN AGAIN .
I MAY BE GIVING YOU MORE CREDIT THAT YOU DESERVE.
IF YOU WANT A FORMAT FOR PEOPLE TO EXPRESS THEMSELVES THEN YOU SHOULD SAY SO.. I JUST TELL IT LIKE IT IS. YOU ASKED FOR COMMENTS. YOU EVEN SAY the key, at least for me, is to not discard the other person's viewpoint solely because it doesn't line up with yours.
I GAVE ONE. YOU DISCARD IT AS CALLING ME " ANGRY. . SUCH NONSENSE..
NOW ARE YOU GOING TO ADDRESS THE PRESENTATION OR NOT?? IF YOU DONT . ITS OK TO. NO BIG DEAL. . IM ALWAYS INTERESTED IN OTHER PEOPLES PERSPECTIVE. . THATS ALL . IM NOT OUT TO CONVINCE YOU OF ANYTHING . JUST GIVING A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE AND AM CURIOUS OF YOUR RESPONSE. . IF YOU DONT CARE TO . THATS OK TO. MINDS ARE LIKE PARACHUTES. THEY ONLY FUNCTION WHEN THEY ARE OPEN
THANKS:)

kidpositive said...

ALL CAPS ARE GENERALLY ASSOCIATED WITH SHOUTING. that's a common piece of computer communication etiquette.

so, if you don't want to be perceived as shouting, and thus angry, then don't use all caps. i'm not discarding your viewpoint; i'm merely asking you to respectfully join the discussion instead of yelling into it. and that's how you come off. don't blame me...

derailuer said...

THANKS FOR THE RESPONSE.
IM NOT" SHOUTING" ITS THE WAY I TYPE SO I CAN SEE THE LETTERS. ITS THAT SIMPLE..
I LIKE CAPS.
THATS ALL THERE IS TO IT.
NO ONE IS BLAMING YOU FOR ANYTHING
.
ITS HOW YOU PRECIEVE THINGS.
I THOUGHT YOUR PRESENTATION WAS DECENT ENOUGH TO WARRENT A RESPONSE.
MY WAY.
TIS THE WAY I KNOW HOW..
AND IS DONE IN GOOD TASTE. . BUT I SEE YOUR JUST LIKE ALL THE OTHER PEOPLE WITH " RELIGIOUS" VIEWPOINTS.
YOU SAY YOU WELCOME COMMENTS. BUT ITS GOT TO BE DONE..
YOUR WAY OR NO WAY.
SORRY DUDE!!!!!!
ALTHOUGH SOME DAY I BET WHEN YOU GROW UP THERE MIGHT BE SOMETHING OF SUBSTANCE.
THAT IS OF COURSE YOU DONT TURN INTO A CLONE OF RELIGIOUS IDEOLOGY LIKE EVERY OTHER PERSON THAT DOSENT HAVE THE ABILITY TO LOOK AT THINGS FOR WHAT THEY ARE AND NOT FOR WHAT YOU WANT THEM TO BE.
GOOD BY .
AND GOOD LUCK.
NO MORE COMMENTS FROM ME..

JUST BE CAUTIOUS YOU DONT BECOME A LEGEND ONLY IN YOUR OWN MIND!!!!!!. or in other words. FULL OF YOURSELF.
THANKS...
OVER AND OUT.
FOREVER.
[ CAPS AND ALL]
:)

Mike said...

KP, i am sorry you had to endure that. the guy was out in left field.

james said...

I agree with Fletch. Sorry you had to endure that. And I agree with you KP in that common computer etiquette dictates that ALL CAPS INDICATES SHOUTING!

It seems he must have knowledge of this to some degree, as he uses both upper and lower case when he types.

Vern Hyndman said...

KP...

It's rare that, on the very thread that you talk about people bulldozing their ideas onto others, a poster comes along and gives you a perfect example.

If you look at the vast majority of the good that has benefited the world, it has come in the context of Christianity. Not that all Christians look or act anything like Jesus, but that Christians tend to attract rather than coerce. Advances in all areas of life have statistically been centered around countries built on Christian ideals. other religions and other political systems do not allow free speech... China, much of the Middle East, previously the USSR... and as a result become cess pools of inbred though rather than the vibrant cultures of disparate ideas we have.

It's interesting that Mr. Sprocket does not recognize the context of his own freedom.