This I Believe

Andrew - St Cloud, Minnesota
Entered on December 21, 2008
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: atheism, science

I believe in evolution. There is no plan. There is no divine design. There is no providence. There is no fate, no fortune. We have evolved to where we are today, but humans, and only humans, have some control over their evolution.

We are misled, fooled, by a logical fallacy, the fallacy of composition, the statement that what is true of the parts must be true of the whole. Sometimes the whole is like the parts, but usually not. Water is not like hydrogen and oxygen. The individual does not want the vaccination, but the society benefits.

We are fooled by our inclination to assign causes. The fallacy of composition tells us that everything in the universe has a cause so, therefore, does the universe itself.

This is not true (nor is it false). Each of the following statements is equally logical:

1. The universe has always existed.

2. The universe created itself.

3. The universe was created by something else, call that “creator.”

4. Creator has always existed.

5. Creator created itself.

6. Creator was created by something else.

And so on.

Each of these statements is equally absent of truth value. We are fooled by our inclination to assign causes to think that at least one of them must be true. But we are entirely inside the universe and inside the big bang and thus we cannot know what is outside the universe and before the big bang. We cannot know whether there is a cause of the universe or the big bang.

I believe that the word ‘belief’ does not mean the same in science as it does in religion.

We humans can live with that. We humans can choose a goal, an end, can make plans, can set out towards that a goal, sometimes achieving them, but usually not, and usually making changes along the way. Humans affect their evolution; the universe has evolved to affect its own evolution.