September 17, 2007
I am often confronted by theologians arguing their conviction that scientific theory is predicated upon something quite similar to religious belief and that since science does not have all the answers and we are so completely incapable of sufficient understanding, we dare not dismiss the transcendental. This is, of course, utter booboisie pap and a pathetic presumption borne from either one or more of compunction that we had better believe for fear of divine retribution, or resignation that we might as well believe in answer to social or traditional dictate, or an inability to engage evidence rationally: fear, sloth or ignorance.
To presume for lack of sufficient understanding is nothing less than flagrant intellectual knavery and mental sloth. The transcendental is but the dumpster of all that believers are too scared, too lazy, or too dumb to attempt to better understand.
The fact that science does not yet have all the answers does not indicate that theology has any answers at all.
What can one reasonably hope to learn from (Christian) theology? Nothing, but that one should apply elsewhere. Founded in ancient oracles, loosely organised in the 1st century, entrenched in the 4th, adjusted in the 16th, refined in the 18th and propped in the 20th, theology is dead in the 21st. All that remains is the sorry sight of the believer pulling the dead body of Christ behind her after the way of a mother baboon…
Science does not have all the answers. But this fact does not indicate that religion has any answers at all. In deference to Darwin, it has often and confidently been asserted that man’s origin, for instance, can never be known… but ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge. It is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.
Would it be permissible to reflect on what we do know, of particular things we can be certain? Methinks it more than merely admittable; it is obligatory!
The Big Bang did occur.
The universe is expanding.
We know how galaxies and solar systems and stars are born and we understand the dynamics of earth and its tectonic vigour.
We know the building blocks of life and we know that alternative sulphur based life forms exist around deep sea vents.
We know that evolution is a reality.
We know how minerals and diamonds are formed.
We know the laws of nature and can account for thermodynamics and the speed of light.
We have mastered several rather accurate dating processes.
We know the elements and know, for instance, what a water molecule looks like.
We understand photosynthesis and the Krebs cycle.
We can heal many illnesses and have mastered invasive and reconstructive surgery.
We know that the earth and life on earth was not created by divine intervention some 6,000 years ago.
We know that virgins can not give birth.
We know that the dead are unable to travel to hell and return to their graves to be bodily resurrected.
We know that humans can not traverse the atmosphere in a jelleba.
We know that humans can not live forever.
We know, deep down in places some of us do not speak about in public, that there is no God and that we have only each other, here and now, for about three score and ten years until science forges a way to prolong life.
There is an expanding universe between science and religion. I choose science. Not for answers, but for progressive explanation, in pursuit of the voussoir of evolving insight…
My imaginary friend, Mayor of Manhole, Mississippi, Leroy Tecumseh van Buren always says, “It ain’t the things we don’t know that get us into trouble, it’s the things we know for sure what ain’t so!”