Religion for the reasonable...

Some may chide me for being someone trying to find the 'middle ground', but bear with me here and I hope to get my point across. I know putting your own beliefs out there is asking for others to take pot-shots at you, but I don't mind being a target. Just so long as you understand I'm a target that fires back in kind.

The Chinese have a three-fold philosophical system of beliefs that is kind of interchangeable. It goes something like this. The Buddhists claim that to attain eternal peace you must understand the universe and the way you are part of it. Confucianists claim 'how can you know the universe and the afterlife when you have not even mastered the circumstances of the world?' Meanwhile, Taoists counter with 'then how can you master the world when you have not even mastered yourself?'

They all borrow philosophies from one another, but that's the basis behind my own beliefs. I am an agnostic deist. You might note I didn't bother capitalizing that 'religion' because technically it's not even a religion at all. Agnostic literally means 'not known' from the Greek word agnotos. Deism is a belief that a divine force that created the universe does exist. In other words, there is a divine power but it is unknowable to us. There is a reason for this.

That reason is faith. Several great minds including Dr. Steven Hawking have contemplated the existence of God, but they have noted that the Universe has it's own set of laws, and one of those laws is that we might not be able to determine what all of the laws are. Of course, Douglas Adams said the same thing, only more humorously, but the point is that if we were to be given the keys to all knowledge then we would have no need for faith.

But I believe there is reason to suspect a creative power at work. Why? Not because of anything such as Intelligent Design or the Book of Genesis or the Hieroglyphs of Ptah. But because of the very rules of our Universe. People sometimes wonder how it is that galaxies or planets or even horses could come together randomly out of matter. The truth is they don't come together randomly. The laws of Quantum Physics and Chaos Theory and the theory of Evolution establishes that the elements are attracted to each other in such a way as to counter entropy. Just like the way Cheerios in a bowl of milk gravitate toward one another, so the motes of life also join. Think about that.

While no 'hand of god' has come out of the sky and revealed the ultimate purpose (other than in mythologies, of course) all of matter and energy has been brought into existence in some way that actually causes all of the tiny particles to function as part of a larger whole. To me, that speaks more of design and intuitiveness than any concept of the Earth being thrown together in a few days and creatures being plopped down onto it and told to breed. Even the most simple of us know that you need more than two of something to sustain a whole species. Inbreeding of any limitation like that sets you up for disasters of potato-famine-like proportions.

Need actual proof of these laws of existence for yourself? Fine. Take a board that's 2 feet wide and 5 feet long. Measure out a matrix of 1 inch squares on the board and put a nail into each of the intersections so that you have a whole lot of nails sticking out straight from the board...almost like a bed of nails that a guru would lie on. Then, put an ledge on the 5 foot sides and 2 foot sides so you have a kind of big open box with nails sticking up inside. Now you're ready. Take a few hundred marbles and drop them one at a time into the top of the box while it's sitting on a slope. The marbles will 'ping' and bounce off of the nails on their way down, just like a pachinko machine or an old-fashinoned pinball game. But you know what will happen? Watch the bottom of the box. No matter where you put the marbles in at the top, drop in enough of them and you get a bell-curve at the bottom. Every single time. No fooling. You are watching one of the laws of the Universe in action.

If the Universe was really just a place where there were no rules then it would always be a big blob at the bottom of the box. Random every time. Not a bell curve. A mathematical function. And if our Universe was a random place then there would be no planets or stars or solar systems. Only dust. Dust and static and no life at all.

I don't think that you can have laws and rules if there was nothing to create them in the first place. Systems and matrices can't exist in entropy. But if there is a god...or for that matter gods...that have made that all possible then they have not given us their face.

So maybe that should be a big clue for us all right there. If we have not been given the image of the divine as proof for us all to see, maybe we should be asking ourselves the obvious question. If the divine has not given us their holy visage then perhaps we should take the hint that such things are not supposed to be as important as the laws of physics and life that have been made so obvious to us.

Uploaded 10/10/2008
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