There is a gap that can’t be crossed between belief and logic. It is more and more evident in the age-old debate between science and religion. Belief relies on feelings, on searching for what feels right, whereas science relies on logic, on the search for truth. Now you might say that believing in science contradicts what I’ve just said, and it doesn’t. Scientific truth is true no matter what one believes. Science is about searching for answers to reality and although the answers it provides can be proven wrong, it’s not about the answers themselves but about the path one takes to get to them. Finding the truth is a matter of logic, of organised thought, of certain principles of arranging events. Being right about one thing doesn’t automatically make us right on another thing. And often the simplest principle can be proven wrong if given enough time and brains. Newton’s theories were cutting edge for many years after his death. They thought he was right too, until along came the fellow with the wacky hair.
Einstein may have been famous for his theory of relativity but he was dead wrong about other things (the cosmological constant/static universe debacle, quantum theory, and so on). God does not play dice, indeed..
Darwin created his theory of evolution that’s so hip now with all those people and became the recipient of so many jokes (“Kid: Hey mom, at school they say we’re all descendants of monkeys… Mom: Well, maybe your father’s side of the family – I never did get to meet them and it would explain so many things!”). In truth, it was developed before we discovered DNA – the modern version of evolution is now built around genes and genetics and it’s constantly evolving.
Those are just two examples of why science is a never ending ride for truth – we might screw it up sometimes but we learn from our mistakes and correct them (eventually).
Believing implies emotional responses – we feel that a certain ideea is right. The brain is wired to conditioned responses: X event happens then the reason for it is Y. If X happens again, then Y again. We like to keep it simple and for that reason it’s rather hard to imagine that our X event can have multiple causes (Y, Z, T, and so on). Change is hard to comprehend.
Now, religion reduces us to believing something that can’t change. Sure, christianity takes a step sideways with the pope anouncing Big Bang was “da bomb”, but what if in a few years we change that too? What if we prove right the works of Hugh Everett and his many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics? Do we have multiple Jesuses running around? Do we have one that’s evil? How’s that going to wrap around your turban?
I’m not saying religion is wrong, any of them might have some good things in them (hello pastafarians). Though I’m having trouble with their followers.. Fundamentalism is wrong, folks! There is no good thing coming from closed minds. No reason to think otherwise. And believe me, you can’t be a christian if you don’t follow the “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” thing. Likewise, you can’t be a muslim and don’t practice the shadada “There is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God”. You either follow the herd or not. Look at the newspapers, there’s plenty of god-fearing killers around.
The main point is here:
I put no stock in religion. By the word religion I have seen the lunacy of fanatics of every denomination be called the will of God. I’ve seen too much religion in the eyes of too many murderers. Holiness is in right action, and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves. And goodness – what God desires – is here [points to Balian’s head] and here [points to Balian’s heart] and by what you decide to do every day you will be a good man…or not.
from the movie Kingdom of Heaven.
What you do is what defines you. Is killing some people a just action for other people mocking your religion? I sincerely doubt it. I haven’t heard of physicists taking a shot at each other for scientific theories proven wrong in peer-reviewed papers – though I’m going to google that shit up, maybe a good pillow fight will turn up. Science is the way we look for answers to reality, using logic, brain power and (sometimes hilarious) experimentation. It ain’t science otherwise, no matter what people believe.
Enough for today, let me just conclude with a widely used quote: “If you talk to God, you are praying; If God talks to you, you have schizophrenia.” Thomas Szasz. Good quote, even considering its author.