Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Rant

I'm kind of on a relgious kick these days. Sometimes that happens. Maybe it's part of being a little crazy. Maybe it's lots of other things too. There have been a few distinct periods in my life when I've focused my mental energy on the Divine and how it fits into my world. I've always known that there is Something Larger Than Me. And I've always, in the back of my mind or maybe in my left heart ventricle, known that my life has a purpose, even if it's only to perpetuate my species and try to improve my immediate surroundings while here. I see no conflict with God there.

I'm also on a science kick, but that's been a much more consistent, enduring kick in my life than religion. I see no conflict with God and science. But that is a minority view, it seems. Some fancy-schmancy writer wrote an article called My God Problem. I suppose she thinks she's clever to insult people for believing in things they cannot prove. Her condescending attitude is exactly the kind that turns most normal, God-fearing people's stomachs. She has no respect for humanity. People think, "Gee, if not believing in God makes you a catty bitch who thinks she's better, smarter, and more important than everyone else, well, no thank you very much. I'll stick with God if Science creates jerks." This is a problem that any scientist with a heart needs to consider.

People resist evolution because they think it dehumanizes them, just like Ms. Smartypanties' article dehumanizes them by calling them "poor gullible gits" among other things. Of course, I know that evolution and science don't dehumanize me, but I'm speaking for other people here. They've had their school prayers taken away by irrationally angry atheists, and now here's this high-falutin author trying to rile up the scientists to bring on an all-out war against God and religion.

I recognize that science doesn't have all the answers and doesn't pretend to, and that's one of the things I love about it. But it has a pretty good notion of what's probable or possible, and virgin births and carpenter rebirths just aren't on the list. Is there a divine intelligence, separate from the universe but somehow in charge of the universe, either in its inception or in twiddling its parameters? No evidence. Is the universe itself God? Is the universe aware of itself? We're here. We're aware. Does that make us God? Will my daughter have to attend a Quaker Friends school now?

I don't believe in life after death, but I'd like to believe in life before death. I'd like to think that one of these days we'll leave superstition and delusional thinking and Jerry Falwell behind. Scientists would like that, too. But for now, they like their grants even more.

I think Ms. Smartypanties is a little confused about science and its place in the world. She says that science doesn't pretend to have all the answers. Some of it thinks it does, and makes a big to-do about it. And she's upset with the scientists for being more concerned for their financial well-being than for converting all Americans to atheism. Look, lady, get your head out of your ass. Scientists are people too, and most of them just want to get through their days, weeks, months, and years and pay their bills and live their lives. Most people aren't interested in running crusades one way or the other. How has religion hurt you? It's probably only added to your bank accounts.

Yes, yes, I know all the arguments about the evil deeds done in the name of God or Allah or whatever diety. Sure, there is a lot of that. But no one really stops to think and list out all of the good that is done through religion or inspired by the Divine. How many schools, hospitals, ophanages, etc. have been built and maintained by religious efforts? How many lives have been saved by people moved by a force that they can only identify as God? The list is endless. I don't recall that part of the scientific method includes leaving out evidence just because you don't like where it comes from and only including the evidence that supports your hypothesis (in this case, that religion/God is worse than it is good). Where's the scientific objectivity when looking at God and religion? You won't find any in Angier's article.

On a kind of personal note, I didn't see any mention of children in her bio. Now, I know this is a very controversial thing that I'm about to say, but I'm willing to bet that it's closer to true than not. Many childless women lack a certain capacity to love and respect life. And indeed, having children was a pivotal event in my own spiritual evolution because of the absolutely overwhelming love that filled me. Perhaps it was/is only biological responses and so on. Fine if it is. But it is surely more powerful than anything that science has discovered or created, so what's wrong with attributing it to some Divine Force?

Well, I don't want anyone to misunderstand the point of my little rant here. I'm not dissing science and scientists. I love science and scientists! Some much more than others. :-) But I also have a close relationship with something that I believe is Divine. If that makes me a "poor gullible git" then I'll just be a poor gullible git instead of a well-paid but heartless bitch.

(Ms. Angier could be a very nice person. I don't know; I'm only responding to the attitude reflected in her article.)


DHammett said...

It's interesting that a pivotal event in your spiritual growth was the birth of a child. For the merger of two single cells to develop into so complex an organism - one that can reason - is best described as miraculous.

I'm sure I'll tread on some toes here, but what the heck. It's frustrating for me to hear scientists like your author deny the existence of a divine being. Yet they promote a theory like evolution. Humans developing from a single celled organism over billions of years flies in the face of the (their?) second law of thermodynamics. The entropy of an isolated system not at equilibrium will tend to increase over time, approaching a maximum value. I once heard it described as putting all of the pieces of a wristwatch in a pile and expecting it to assemble itself. What happens? If we wait a billion years or so, do we finally get our watch? Or a pile of rusty, decomposed watch parts?

Kudos for speaking out about close-minded (not all) scientists.

Rae Ann said...

dh, thanks. I think you know that I accept evolution as fact and that it isn't difficult (for me) to reconcile that with a belief in the Divine, even without invoking "intelligent design" theories. Unlike Einstein, I do think that God plays dice with the Universe, in a sense. It's interesting that you point to conception as a miraculous event, which it does seem to be in some contexts. But I think that the conception and development into a complex human being is evidence itself of evolution. I'm not really trying to convince you of anything, though to me it is as awe and reverence inspiring to imagine that in all the possibilities of combinations of things in the universe that we are here at all. The Divine works in mysterious ways.

I was considering pulling this post because of the kind of rough language I used, but then I decided that well, you get what you pay for. ;-) I'm not a Pulitzer prize-winning, well paid writer so the standards to which I'm held can be a little lower. lol

Another point that I thought of later was that this attitude as reflected in Angier's article really smacks of trying to limit freedom of thought. She seems to be trying to impose a scientific world view on all people, and in a way that's kind of totalitarian. (much like "liberals" and "political correctness") This is America where we have freedom of religion and freedom of speech, and you can't have those without freedom of thought. And if for some people, their pursuit of happiness involves believing that the moon is made of cheese and the earth is only a few thousand years old, well, they do have every right to think it. Of course, people have a right to criticize that too, but these critics tend to forget their manners and become somewhat abusive, which isn't a protected form of expression. In other words, Angiers seems to be almost trying to replace religion with science, and frankly, despite my personal feelings about the grandeur of science I can't agree with that approach.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

DHammett said...

Rae Ann -

You're right...we get what we get. And that's why we keep coming back.

Without belaboring the point excessively, there has never been an instance where one species has evolved into another. There have been "evolutions" within species. Micro, not macro. To believe in the theory, then, requires as much faith as it takes for me to believe in a God who created the universe. Hence, a religion.

Now, on to more important thoughts. I'd always dismissed the idea of the moon as cheese. I'm pulling for white chocolate.

Happy Thanksgiving to you, too.

Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

11 24 06

Rae Ann:
EXCELLENT article! These arrogant types of people won't even go as far as possible in the sciences because their minds are too closed. It makes no sense to say with certainty that God doesn't exist. Out of the vastness of the universe, I find it a foolish thought that WE are the ONLY ones capable of complex thought processes...Also, what created the universe. Sure the big bang, but what began that? Silly people. Science attempts to explain how God did it and religion attempts to explain why!