Reason, Faith, and Science

I have a sneaking suspicion I’m going to get in trouble for this. 🙂  I’m not any towering intellect, nor do I have extensive background in any of the following– philosophy, science, or even theology.  I just have read a lot of arguments, and have noticed some things, like Herschel noticed something unexpected about a familiar glint in the sky. [An exaggeration  I’m sure. He was more of a scientist than me, though an amateur.]

I am, by nature, a passionate person. I have taught myself reason through a determination to reign in my fancies. I rely on art and fiction to give them freedom to roam (a freedom I am emotionally crippled without– yet without fences, all is chaos).

I was raised in an environment where I could not express my passionate nature, so I convinced myself I was Spock. An extended era of repression ensued.  The irony being, in that I learned that we chase the solution to repression so forcefully that we fully don’t realize it when we inflict it on ourselves.

Because, repressed or not, what you are is still there, all along.  Running away won’t help you– but being honest with yourself can start anywhere. It is often more likely to happen in places not of your choosing.

But, it is not what we do, or even who we are that is damaged by repression. Repressing the act of killing that person who annoys us is actually good for us. But… undoing repression is not doing everything that comes to mind, but recognizing that your nature is your nature and will express itself regardless.

That is, repression takes us further away from reality, not further into psychosis or whatever techno-babble of the week is popular in self-help circles.  Like it or not, our relationship to reality is the only definition of sanity we have.

It is HOW you express, not what you express that is the key to morality or even, the rationality of being.

So what does all this have to do with faith, reason, and science?

It seems that “leading lights” (or perhaps, the loudest trumpets) of science have forgotten a few simple facts about reality, the nature of humanity. and reason.  Let me explain.

Back in the primitive beginning of human thought, it was taken for granted (usually) that what was in front of you was real.  Some no longer have that luxury. Indeed one must, it seems, to confront that existential crisis to get through adolescence these days.  In my case, I was 8 years old. I’d rather have translated The Aeneid in grade school, frankly.

Part of the reason why it took so long for science to take off– I mean, the Ancient Greeks had enough reason and luxury to do the job– was that, we had to believe in a rational universe. That is, a universe that makes sense, that is approachable, and is amiable to study with the tools that we have to hand.   And,most important of all, that there is a good reason to do it.

If you believe that the nature of the universe is completely random and changeable, there is no point in science at all, because all you think you have learned is going to change tomorrow.   If you believe that the universe is a figment of your own imagination, there is no point in science, save as a process of protracted masturbation– and perhaps, a means to pass the time until you get to find out if death is really your thing or not.  I really wouldn’t see the point.

Further, there is no point to science if you believe that the nature of humanity is so crippled and blind that you cannot perceive reality at all.

IF everything we see is a pattern we made up out of a hash of chaos– to protect ourselves from the knowledge that reality is not really ordered or sensible at all. After all, you are merely weaving a bigger tapestry of illusion in that case.  Besides, what help are all those tools and fancies you constructed to take your measurements, if they are founded on self-deception?

http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html

By Ubcule (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ) or GFDL , via Wikimedia Commons

In this case, the only reason to even bother being a philosopher is to create your own cult of personality  and get laid by graduate students.  And even that would get tiresome after a while.

This is why many maniacal sects frequently end up in death– in far less than a single generation. I also suspect that getting everything you want isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.

600px-God-diceAll of this boils down to the substrate underneath why Christians and everyone else disagrees about what sorts of arguments prove God’s existence.

The Atheists want some kind of machine that will give them readings. They want laboratory experiments that prove that a transcendent being was in the room. They want Supernaturals, not some pathetic reasoned argument that some  benighted medieval came up with.  They are New Men, and reason is old hat.  It isn’t sufficiently scientific.  Hence, yawn, etc.

(http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

By Lilly_M [GFDL] or [CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

But here’s the thing.  Our argument is rightly based on the fact that the only way we can talk about the proof of God’s existence is through reason, and that this tool of the mind is the only sufficient tool to use. Why?  Because our mere science will likely never be great enough to attain the proof required.

Science is the tool of studying the physical world. Metaphysics was recognized before the physical world was sufficiently well defined to get us to the point of recognizing the physical enough to make science possible. We had to know things about the nature of the physical world in order to even begin science. That’s why it took so long. Science wasn’t invented at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. It was Invented by St. Gregory the Great, in the 12th Century. He gave us the Scientific Method. He gave us Occam’s Razor.

If you believe that religious people are so fundamentally broken in their apprehension of the world to the extent that they must be stopped– repressed– even killed– then you must be intellectually honest enough to admit that you are borrowing a skill invented by us. Recreate science from scratch without leaning on our faith. Define your way from the Beginning, and present it in a consistent fashion that we may do battle honestly.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AMonsoon_Lightning_Strike%2C_Table_Mesa.jpg

By Shredex (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons
I cropped it.

Our reason is the reason for your science.  The only reason sufficient to do all the crazy dangerous and bizarre things that the early scientists did was to learn more about God, because God was the reason for reality. I will grant that it wasn’t true for every scientist, but it was true for the majority of the early ones. And, it is still true today, for some of the not-so-early ones, too.

That is another facet of what all our crazy ideas did for humanity. Also, as an added bonus it was charity, that is, a love of mankind sufficient to suffer for their betterment.

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0

By Shredex (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

I suppose one could argue that it wasn’t sufficient to make up for all the suffering that belief causes. I suppose one could argue that too much terror and badness was also birthed of these ideas. Perhaps we would all be better off as hunter gatherer tribes standing in caves to get out of the rain.  They certainly had better art than most of what we create today.

But there is one last fact that I will leave you with in regards to the last paragraph.  Is it better to know what we believe and how we believe it, and how to analyze what we believe, and to have a standard by which to judge the output of what is believed?

While we gave you faith, and rosaries, and crucifixes, and Inquisitions, we also took pagan reason and brought it into the modern world.  The Muslims preserved it while we were distracted by internal affairs, but they ultimately dissolved into sophistry and pelagianism, until the fundamentalists brought them out of madness into a more stable, but closed system that created an equilibrium.

We have evolved a system in the West to look honestly at any given system, a moral standard by which to judge it, and a mental weights and balances to see whether it is truly good or ill for mankind.

Remove any of those pieces, and madness comes about. That’s why we were so villainous towards heretics in the old days. No one asks what those heretics were doing, nor what the logical outcomes of their own beliefs would be.  While killing isn’t always the answer, ignoring eminent threats is also a weak constitution to live by.

I don’t condone what was done. But in every single case, the Christians who enacted it were acting against their faith because they had to “act in accordance with reality as they saw it.” See how well that turned out. 

The very standards you judge our past by were borrowed from us.  If you can come up with a good reason to have it without using our arguments for it, then you will have truly found a New Way.

Otherwise, convince me why you believe in science.

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