Thursday, June 2, 2011

Another Unexplained Religious Day

Those who know me must also know that religion has always eluded me. Some might say that I eluded religion, instead. Whichever it is, the ideas that so many religious people consider sacred do not strike me as such.

There is nothing I can say to change their minds, nor anything anyone can say to change my mind. It is too late in my life to take on a new brain. My old brain has grown the way it has grown, and nothing can be done about it now. And I am not looking to change anyone else.

There are so many religions. There is at least one for every computer brand. There are several for each God, including hundreds for just messengers of God, and many just for messengers of messengers. How many there are in total, formally, I'm not sure. At least 20 flavors, and sometimes hundreds of sects for some of those flavors. There are so many Christian religions I couldn't begin to list them, and even just the major division are too numerous to bother listing. This post is not about that. For that, look at Wikipedia's list of religions.

For my family, especially the grandparents and various aunts and uncles who grew up in the far more stringent religions of years past, I try to honor their traditions, whenever possible, and I do not like to ruffle so many feathers. But the whole problem with being polite in the midst of so many who are impolite regarding my beliefs, or lack thereof, is what makes me have to write this stuff. I just need to get it off my back once in a while.

When people ask me how I can prove that there is no "God"-- first of all I can no more prove such a statement than anyone else can prove that alien lifeforms do not live on distant stars. For all I know there are dozens of gods, or even billions of them. I just have no idea which ones are real or not. The main thing is that I can't believe in so many at once. For that reason I don't believe in any at all.

What if I am forbidden from entering Heaven when I die, merely for refusing to believe in "Him"? I don't refuse to believe anything. Belief is not something that someone "does". Instead, belief is something that is either supported by facts or it isn't. If I can just believe any old thing I want, then I'd just as soon believe that beautiful girls carrying bags of gold as gifts are gathering around my house. If that would make them poof into existence, then I'd believe it in a second.
But that is like asking the Genie to grant 3 wishes, and then using one of the wishes to wish for infinite Genies. It is silly to believe in magical things like that, although it is fun to imagine such scenarios. There are many legends and fairy tales like that, but no single story is believable enough for me to believe it on faith alone.

But what about my belief in science? Is that not a religion? In some instances there is a degree of "faith" in science, but not because faith alone is sufficient to prove something scientifically. There are many concepts for which we have examples, like Gravity, Quarks, Neutrinos and numerous other elusive substances, but for which we have no way of demonstrating their creation or holding them in tweezers. We know they exist because of definitions, and because they have effects on our lives.

But if I stop believing in Gravity, it still remains in effect. I can refuse to believe in it if I wish, but it will not save me from falling off a cliff should I be foolish enough to test my disbelief. Similarly, if there is a God, then whether I believe that or not is not going to change anything for the existence of the world. In fact, there are millions of people who believe in absolutely opposite "truths" which do not effect the existence of reality in the slightest. 

Water still rains from the sky, the Sun still heats our planet, and all the cycles of nature continue, with us or without us, and even in spite of us, regardless of our beliefs. But, our refusal to believe in keeping nature "natural" may eventually come around to bite us. We can only ruin our environment to such an extent before we are ruining our own selves.

Things somehow popped into existence. People can believe what they like, whether religious or materialist or whatever their epistemology may be, and they can never explain the ultimate mystery of creation. If you believe God created everything, then somehow you must explain how God could exist in the first place. If you believe the universe can spontaneously conjure itself from cosmic nothingness then that also requires an explanation how nothing can become something. 
So far, regardless of the beliefs, scientific, animistic, creationist or naturalist -- whatever -- those questions always remain unanswered, and always will. Unless, that is, you are satisfied by "just because" as an answer.

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