When I got around to checking social media this morning, there was a nugget on my news feed, a share from a neighbor. An article titled “The Father of the Big Bang? A Catholic Priest.” He had also left a comment claiming, “Contrary to what fundamentalist Christians and or fundamentalist Atheists would have us believe, religious faith and scientific thought are not mutually exclusive.” As a Dawkins fan, I smiled and chose not to respond or comment as my initial take, my default, shaking my head and dismissing the notion. The whole idea is ridiculous to me on several levels. Because I know what is most often meant by statements like the one which my neighbor made. The pompous dualist says, “Sure science exists, God made it.” The arrogant atheist says, “If you believe in God, you can’t believe in pure science.” I obviously lean toward the latter.
I don’t think this is truly an intellectual battle. A wise atheist understands that one cannot disprove the deities. Even those of us that talk of Greek Gods and Mount Olympus, which people have climbed and found no deific artifacts, realize that gods capable of raping and drinking could decide to move or change themselves to avoid detection. Neil Gaiman’s American Gods does a fantastic job of entertaining social cometary on this very idea. After all, something which transcends all of physics wouldn’t leave a mark on it, unless of course, it wanted to constantine for one reason or another. A wise atheist also realizes that a brain polluted by blind faith, capable of committing the same atrocities seen in any other pathological mind’s behavior, isn’t one which is going to be receptive to an idea that deities are silly. They, in the worst situations, will kill for it.
This same neighbor has argued that because an atheist can kill somebody, and have killed people, that there is no reason to discriminate Islamic and Christian terrorism from any violence committed by an atheist. The guilty atheist he referred to didn’t do it because of religion only1, which means it is a very different animal. Frogs have blood too, but there is no difference between a frog, dog, and me? Sure we’ve all got similarities to these beasts, but I would never insult a frog or dog by saying it is human. *wink* This is more of the disingenuousness which radiates from nondenominational Christians and their cults.
I am an anti-theist and so thus considered a radical? Really? So are we all anti-virals because we see viruses as pathology. I don’t feel that viruses are evil or anything, as I don’t think religions or the religious are evil, while believing that we do need a type of “vaccination” from sickness of blind faith. Just because Polio isn’t evil, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t protect our children and loved ones from it. It will kill, similar to rage, anger, and hate brought on by religious zealots. All human conditions rather than problems of the radicalized. This is where my stance on the issue really begins.
As the god detectors haven’t been invented yet, and it (god/gods/nature/universal mind/etc.) can do whatever it needs/wants to do in this universe to avoid absolute detection, why is it necessary to consider them, gods. I understand Pascals Wager and all that jazz, but if you place your calories of rationality into the observable universe, one where religious feelings are learned from your immediate environment, and still try to do the right thing, it won’t matter if there is a god or not. What, after we die, finding out that we’re all full of shit and none of us know the slightest little thing about the ninety-seven minutes to two billion years after death, there will be a period of reckoning? Even the proposed inventor of the Big Bang, George Lemaître, saw that there is indeed a problem with six day invention stories and rib women, and “[i]ndeed, when Pope Pius XII referred to the new theory of the origin of the universe as a scientific validation of the Catholic faith, Lemaître was rather alarmed.” His response to this is beautifully rendered as,
“As far as I can see, such a theory remains entirely outside any metaphysical or religious question. It leaves the materialist free to deny any transcendental Being… For the believer, it removes any attempt at familiarity with God… It is consonant with Isaiah speaking of the hidden God, hidden even in the beginning of the universe.”
Even the person cited in this article doesn’t agree with the piece. Biblical to the max.
Yet, all that said, there is one place where the two perspectives meet and do some really amazing work for the growth of humanity. A realization came to me after a little twelve minute meditation ended up being: that science has to study religious faith and belief. It wasn’t a realization that we need to study religiousness, that I have known for years, but the realization is that this is the very point where the two meet, where the claim made by the article and my neighbor meet truth. The amount of knowledge learned about cognition and social interaction from those studies may help us develop the “vaccine” I spoke of earlier sooner rather than later. This will be how we prevent psychotic atheists, religious extremism, and all forms of terrorism from doing immeasurable harm, by understanding the physical nature of human beings. I invite everyone to leave the metaphysical “truths” outside of our daily decision making. Which, upon a close examination of brain states, is the way it is anyways, no matter what an individual wishes reality could be like. Ultimately, people are responsible for the state of society which is another place where blind faith meet up with science (free will vs determinism).
Who knows, maybe the religious will get their wish after death, but while we’re all here and kicking, please mind your physics, because when you hurt someone, you hurt all of us.
. Katz, Jonathan M. “In Chapel Hill, Suspect’s Rage Went Beyond a Parking Dispute.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 03 Mar. 2015. Web. 20 Dec. 2015.