20090421-ceci-nest-pas-une-pipe-rene-magritte

As a child I was introduced to the chicken and egg paradox by my grandmother – a very wise woman, despite (because?!?) the fact that she had very little formal education.

As I grew up I found out that even the adults are passionate about it. Just Google it if you don’t believe me. Last time I checked the search engine had come up with 26 million (26 000 000 000) entries….

Then I was introduced to a slightly more interesting version of it.
Who is responsible for what is going on around us.
“Who created the World”, that is.

Apparently we have three three camps.

The theists, of various denominations – some of whom would cut each-other’s throats attempting to convince the ‘others’ that their God is the true one, believe that an outside agent is wholly responsible for the ‘Big-Bang’ and all its consequences. Or, at least, for sparking the process.
The atheists, some of whom are ‘rabid’ enough to be as obnoxious as some of the theists, who blame it all on Lady Luck.
And the agnostics, like myself, who cannot make their minds one way or another.

Now, and I hope you won’t mind, I’m going to enumerate some facts.

  • We, the humans, are the ones who came up with the Big-Bang theory.
    Which is nice. It offers a generous canvas on which we might eventually thread a lot of ‘science’, but doesn’t, in any way, offer even the slightest opportunity for the most imaginative amongst us to propose the flimsiest hypothesis about what started the whole thing.
    Hence those of us who follow a far longer tradition feel free to consider that a Divine interference is the sole rational explanation. For everything that hasn’t yet an ‘scientifically proven’  one. As if science ever offered us a definitive answer…
  • The Big Bang Theory was initially devised by a Catholic priest, Georges Lemaitre, who was trying to understand God’s ways.
  • No matter what the various prophets and religious teachers have told us, all books – including the ‘holy’ ones – have been written by people. They might have been inspired by (a ?!?) God, there is no way of telling what happened in the minds of the writers, but they were all written by human hands.
  • We, the humans, consider this problem to be a very important one.

So important, in fact, that even a newspaper otherwise busy with economic and political issues occasionally looks (up ?!?) at it.

In its Christmas Day edition the Wall Street Journal published “Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God” by Eric Metaxas.
Basically he author tells us the story of how Sagan started the hunt for ‘Extraterrestrial Intelligence’ and how the seemingly simple task ended up in a cull the sac.
While Good Old Carl thought “that there were two important criteria for a planet to support life: The right kind of star, and a planet the right distance from that star” in time “our knowledge of the universe increased” and “it became clear that there were far more factors necessary for life than Sagan supposed”.
So many in fact that some of us, Eric Metaxas included, now believe that “Probability said that even we shouldn’t be here”.

In this context I’d like to bring to your attention the words uttered by Lord Kelvin in 1895 – by that time elected president of the Royal Society: “Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.”

“Yet here we are, not only existing, but talking about existing.”

Do you see the pattern here?

The usual claptrap, because something can’t be explained, it must be God.” (Mark Baxter’s comment on my FB wall) Or outright impossible, I might add, following Lord Kelvin’s example.

In other words ‘if WE cannot figure it out then it either doesn’t exist or has been made by God’.

But who made ‘God’ in the first place? And why?

Are we even aware that what we call ‘God’ is nothing but an image?
I’m not going to delve far into such intricacies like reminding you that no Orthodox Jew would ever pronounce the ‘true’ name of God but this is a powerful indication that our Elders were aware of the difference between reality and our ability to figure it out.

So why do we keep making this mistake? Why do we still try to ‘invent’ an ‘outside agent’ whenever we don’t have enough information about how something came to be?

That outside agent might very well exist, of course. Someplace, ‘out there’…. Or not. For all we know some things might happen just by pure chance. However improbable that might be.

We cannot determine, as of now at least, either way.

Then why insist? Any way?

Some of you will tell me, quite appropriately,  that ‘believing’ has brought us where we are now.
That ‘faith’ has guided us through the dark nights when we would have otherwise lost our hope. That following the ‘ten commandments’ has kept us from killing each-other much more ‘passionately’  than we’ve done it.

But now that we’ve understood what religion has done good for us what’s keeping us from behaving ‘as if’?
Without ‘God’, or whatever name you want to use for the reality that harbors us at its bosom, having to ‘strike’ us down from time to time?