Friday, December 9, 2016

15 – Science and its Contribution to Knowledge

Science is not perfect. It's often misused; it's only a tool, but it's the best tool we have. Self-correcting, ever-changing, applicable to everything; with this tool, we vanquish the impossible.  - Carl Sagan
In this post:

The working hypothesis of this blog is that
the Universe has a purpose, and humankind
has as role in that purpose.

We must use both Science and Religion/
Philosophy in order to discover our role.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

14 - The Two Major Paths to Knowledge

Apologies for the lateness of this post; a number of circumstances conspired to impact the schedule. Hope it proves to be worth the wait.

There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.  - Aldous Huxley
The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.  - W.B. Yeats
The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.  - Robertson Davies , Tempest-Tost
In this post:

Humankind seems driven to understand the
Universe, and our role in it.

This drive may be built into us by yotzer.

Science and religion/philosophy are the two
main tools we use to reach understanding.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

13 - Understanding yotzer

Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it ...  - Genesis 28
In this post:

Yotzer is shorthand for "that which
created the Universe."

We know nothing else about yotzer, but we
can speculate.

Naturally, the most interesting speculation
has to do with what yotzer wants of us.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

12 - Theists

God is dead.  - Nietzsche  Nietzsche is dead.  - God
In this post:

There are many different types of theism.

Of the many different types of "god concept"
that of the scriptural God is probably
the most common.

It's time to re-evaluate the scriptural God.
is one whose belief system is logically irrational. I believe that all fundamentalism falls into this class. An example of an irrational theist is the individual who posits that the solar system was created less than 6,000 years ago in only six days, despite the fact that scientists have discovered rocks billions of years old. The hallmark of the irrational theist is the belief that his/her religion contains all truth and any input contradicting it is, de facto, false.

A non-rational theist is one who feels that the hypothesis “God exists” is neither provable nor falsifiable and hence is a matter of faith, rather than science. (In order for the scientific method to be applied in a meaningful way, the hypothesis being tested must be provable and falsifiable. If this is not the case, the hypothesis is not a matter of science.) Comment 1 in Post #6 is an example of a theist who thinks this way. That commenter recognizes that science and belief exist as two occasionally overlapping realities. This is an excellent way to cope with the overlap, or to deal with information that is doubtful, but it removes theism from the realm of rational discussion, which is not something I intend to do.

As we have seen above, we can have a wide variety of gods, but when most theists or, for that matter, most atheists, refer to God, they usually have in mind one of two types of god.

The scriptural God is the God most often referred to, since this is the God that most people grew up with. I call this concept the “pre-third millennial God.” This is also the God of the monotheistic religions. Although the image of this God varies somewhat between religions, particularly between Eastern and Western religions, its main characteristics are that God is good, powerful, personal, all-knowing and involved in the affairs of mankind.

The universal god (what I call yotzer) is the god that created the entire Universe. This is the god that the scientific theist identifies as the agent that created the Universe and the physical laws that govern it.

The scriptural God has been invented many times over by human beings. It is a concept that has allowed our species to progress by providing divine authority for standards of behaviour and rules for working with one another. However, it is quite possible that we no longer need this concept. Does anyone still believe that an individual who is secular or atheist is automatically less moral or contributes less to the wellbeing of the community? Does anyone really believe that if we pray hard enough and sincerely enough, we get what we pray for? Does anyone really believe that evil people get punished by a divine judge? There are too many flaws in the original concept of the relationship between humans and God. The third millennium provides us with an opportunity to grow our god concept from the scriptural God of the planet earth to the universal god yotzer. The only thing missing is the collaboration of science and religion.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

11 - What’s Wrong With Atheism?

To whom or what does the atheist, if he is thankful for his life as a whole, feel grateful? This is not easy to answer, if one believes that our lives are a product of chance, and molecules in motion.  - Dr. Oliver Sacks
In this post:

What are the different types of atheism?

How does one become an atheist?

Is atheism more logically defensible
than theism?

Friday, July 29, 2016

10 - The Anthropic Principle and the Multiverse Speculation

Note to readers: Starting with the next post, new posts will go up twice a month, on the 15th and the 30th of the month.

As we look out into the universe and identify the many accidents of physics and astronomy that have worked to our benefit, it almost seems as if the universe must in some sense have known that we were coming.  - Freeman J. Dyson
In this post:

What is the Anthropic Principle?

What does it mean to assert that
the Universe is "finely tuned"?

How does the notion of the multiverse
feature in this discussion?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

9 - Why Should it Matter Whether There is a god?

There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.  - Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
In this post:

Ongoing interest in the existence or
nonexistence of god probably has to do with
primary concerns of human existence.

The human brain may actually be "wired"
for some form of spirituality.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

8 - Religion and Belief – Not at All the Same

My theology, briefly, is that the universe was dictated, but not signed.  - Christopher Morley
In this post:

What is theology?

How does it differ from religion?

What does God (or
god) have to do with it?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

7 – The Kosmos: Beyond the Universe

There are more things in heaven and on earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in our philosophy.  - William Shakespeare
In this post:

The Big Bang theory answers a lot
of questions, but also causes a few.

Some of these questions may be resolved
if the Universe is not all there is,
but rather, is part of the Kosmos.

Monday, June 13, 2016

6 - Harris, and Hitchens, and Dawkins! Oh My!

Lions, and tigers, and bears! Oh, my!  - The Wizard of Oz
In this post:

Who are the New Atheists?

What do they say?

What do they get right, and what do
they get wrong?

Friday, June 10, 2016

5: The Advent and Impact of Fundamentalist State Religion

Onward, Christian soldiers! Marching as to war…  - Sabine Baring-Gould
In this post:

How the balance between atheism and religion
has shifted.

Why state fundamentalism is not a good thing.

Enter secularism — the separation of
religious belief and civil governance.

Monday, May 30, 2016

4 - The Evil of Fundamentalism

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so…  - Fundamentalist Christian children’s hymn
In this post:

What is fundamentalism?

How does it differ from theism?

Can atheists or scientists behave
like fundamentalists?


"360-degree Panorama of the Southern Sky" by ESO/H.H. Heyer - ESO. Licensed under CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons