This I Believe

James - Blaine, Washington
Entered on June 22, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
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“This I Believe”

“How Did We Get Here?”

If you don’t listen carefully, I’ll move into your neighborhood and then you’ll really be screwed.

I think that I may believe in intelligent design.

I’m reticent to say this because of the rank amateurs at the process who think that they know what’s going on, and are coming up with all sorts of bizarre theories and scenarios to prove what they believe to be true. They appear to me to be thinking of science as a competing religion, and therefore feel as though they can present something that appears “scientific” that will prove their beliefs. The problem is that they are basing their theories on doctrine.

You need to know where the doctrine comes from. It was written down by humans—many centuries ago. Think about it. No matter what current major religion that exists in the world has its sacred texts generated in their final form many centuries ago. At that time, the function of religion was to supply a framework for a society’s behavior and, secondarily, to explain how the Universe worked. That secondary function was anchored in the technology that was valid at the time the doctrine was written down.

Well, we humans are a curious species. We do all sorts of things that cause us to want to lean more. A lot of this involves stuff like finding food, keeping the rain off us, waging war, and getting to the next level of “Doom 3”. We started figuring out how to do things without relying on religious texts. Observation figured greatly in this. Some of the stuff we learned along the way conflicted with religious doctrine.

You remember the Renaissance. It was in all the papers.

It’s no surprise that our species finally figured out a formal procedure for finding out about the Universe. We owe Sir Francis Bacon a huge debt for knocking off the rough edges and writing it down. His system’s worked well for roughly four centuries.

So what have we learned in all of recorded history? Well for one, we’ve learned how to see out into our Universe over long distances. Because the information we receive from these observations travels at the speed of light, we’ve also been able to see billions of years into the past. It comes as a package. You don’t get one without the other.

What I find particularly interesting is that at however far away we look, or however far back in time we look, the rules for how things work are the same. To me, that implies a creative intellect at work.

The nature of this creative intellect is unknown to me because I, like every other human being, do not have the experience or background to identify with such an intelligence. Doctrine is mired in the biases of the beings that created it. We can’t escape emotions such as love and hate. We can’t escape such concepts as good and evil. We are tied to the evolutionary trail that brought us to where we are today.

If we ever hope to understand the nature of our creation and our creator, we have to first view the Universe that we are a part of with a great deal more humility. We have to understand that with all of our glitzy tools and whiz-bang technology, we are just now beginning to understand just how alien and weird our creator may be to us.

“God’s Word” is what several religions refer to their sacred texts as. One wonders about the authorship when one realizes that these texts are generated by creatures noted for war-making, corruption, and speculative land development. I think that’s what makes me so nervous about folks who wish to explain basic natural phenomena with writings that are millennia-old.

The study of our Universe can be more likened to the study of God’s work. To observe and study the marks the Creator’s tools leave gives us brief and tantalizing glimpses of the Creator. To use religious doctrine for this process blinds us.

The way I look at it, if the idea is to understand what has been created – ourselves included – and by extension the Creator, then we need to face this quest with courage and honesty. However we were created involved investing us with the ability and the tools to pursue this quest, and we do honor to our Creator by not chickening out.