Friday, March 21, 2008

it is something that has troubled me for some time. why is there this extraordinary correlation between men of science, and them being atheists?

in my pre-christian days, i thought this was only fitting. the people who really studied reality, who really thought about life, the people who were really educated, would, of course come to the conclusion that there was no god. and it is only the moronic masses, that are ignorant of the world, who don't think about life, who can't really give good answers for why they believe in God, who believe.

then i became a christian. but i had thought about life, i had thought about reality, whilst i hadn't dedicated my life to science, i understood enough of it to not be completely ignorant.

i thought maybe it was just a cultural thing. early in the days of science, there was a reaction against religion, and an anti-theistic culture resulted. this culture, perhaps had just continued, with each new generation of scientists suckling on the prejudices of the one before.

there is some truth to this idea, i think.

but i think there is a bigger reason. and that is the overarching principle on which all of science is based; occam's razor.

stated simply, occam's razor is the idea that

the simplest explanation that fits the facts, is the correct one.

it seems slightly simplistic, or even silly, but when one considers it, this really sums up how ordinary people figure out what is true or not.

for example, let us say a murder was committed.
a trail of bloody footprints is found leading from the body to a house down the road. inside is found a person asleep clutching a knife, with blood all over them. their shoes match those of the bloody footprints.

without even thinking about it, we know that the sleeping person is guilty.

but it is possible, that someone took the alleged murderers shoes, committed the murder, and made a trail back to the house. then proceeded to dampen the alleged murderer with blood, and plant the knife in their hand while they slept.

it is also possible that a magician riding a flying buffalo through the streets that night, committed the murder, and used their conjuration skills to create the bloody footprints, and plant the knife.

there are literally an infinitude of explanations of how this might have come to take place, but you can be pretty sure what the jury will decide.

in every day life, we know that the simplest explanation, assuming it still fits the facts, is usually the correct one.

and this is the whole idea in science, to find a simpler, fuller explanation.

the early observers of the planets, thought that they orbited in perfect circles. (the heavens were perfect, 'and as the circle was the perfect shape, things in the heavens must move in circles', thought the greeks)

but as time went on, and techniques for measuring the movement of planets improved, they discovered that they weren't moving in perfect circles. so they decided that there were two circles. an orbit within an orbit, resulting in a slightly elliptical path. advancements continued, and more and more circles had to be introduced to fit the measurements. eventually copernicus came along and said, 'they just follow an elliptic path, there's no circles about it'. the simple explanation had won the day.

similarly, newton showed how a simple theory of gravity explained both why an apple would fall from a tree, and why a moon would orbit the earth. (the moon is falling toward the earth, same as an apple, it just keeps missing) the explanation was simpler.

and this is what science does. attempts to explain as many phenomena as possible, with as few formulae as possible.

in einstein's famous words :

"everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler"

and this is why there is so much atheism in science. the whole idea of a complex personality residing outside of space and time, thinking, feeling with who knows what of a brain; is a horrendous complexity that must be removed if at all it can.

if God can be replaced with a simple formula, then to a mind schooled in finding simpler explanations, immersed in the virtues (and there are many) of the application of occam's razor, then for that person, the simple formula seems a more attractive proposition.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

i always wonder about the garden of eden. the idea of there being no weeds, and the lion laying down with the lamb. i sometimes think, maybe it was the other way 'round.
the weeds were actually 10 feet tall, and man had to battle and fight for days to have the earth relinquish the smallest morsel of food.

and it was not the lion laying down with the lamb, but the lamb was attacking the lion!

and perfect man's appetite for love, and work was so great the whole earth had to conspire against him. and it was only after the fall that the universe became subdued, because that was all that broken man could deal with.

and what of heaven? why do the more perfected we become, we become more courageous?
if heaven is all lions laying down with lambs, this courageousness seems pretty pointless.
heaven must be dangerous, for why else would we need courage?