Friday, 30 December 2011

I'm a Creation Agnostic too

Have you ever noticed how some people just need to believe something about everything.  There are no areas of knowledge where they are content to know that they don't know.

Of course, as with everything in the world there is a spectrum of people.  It is often said that the world is made up of people of two types - namely those who divide people into two types and those who do not.  I am in the latter category.  I observe a spectrum of people from those who question very little and accept a lot, through to those who question a lot and accept very little.  Questioning and accepting are 'orthogonal' quantities in my opinion.  In other words, some people neither question nor accept, whereas others do both with vigour.

Now, I put myself fairly firmly into the more questioning but less accepting corner of this two dimensional diagram, but I notice that there are certain areas where I feel that I neither know the answer, nor ever will.  The fact that I don't know how the universe was created does slightly interest me but it doesn't bother me unduly.  As I mentioned on 5th August this year, I am a Multiverse Agnostic.  There might be other universes, but by definition I will never know whether there are or not.  Even if the maths describing such a situation is beautiful and convincing it doesn't make it true in any real sense.

I just don't know.

And the same line of reasoning applies to the creation of the universe.  Who knows whether it began with a big bang.  Maybe it was a big bounce.  Or maybe it never began at all and has always been there.  There are scientific (or at least semi-scientific) theories that describe all of these options and each theory has its followers.

I am a proponent of none of the theories for several reasons.  Why do I not ally myself with any of the theories?  Its easy.  Even with a degree in physics I simply don't understand any of them well enough to be able to choose.  I do like the idea that there are some things that are not known to us.  Indeed there are some things that probably can never be known - and that is fine with me.

On the other hand I have noticed that certain religious apologists just 'know' that the universe came into being because a god put it there.  In fact they 'know' that it was their particular favourite god.  Somehow they can ignore reasonable doubts.
  • If their god did create the universe, who created their god (as of course all things are said to have a cause).  This infinite regress makes you question all the premises associated with the argument for a Creator.
  • If indeed the (I mean our) universe was created by their god, and it was created specifically for mankind, why would it have to be so complicated?  The universe is unimaginably vast, and mankind has such a tiny, puny and dangerously insecure presence.
  • An even if those two arguments are accepted unquestioningly, what makes you think that this god would alter the physical laws according the the desires and prayers of just one tiny person in this unimaginably vast universe.
All in all, claims that the universe was created by a Creator are even less satisfactory to me than my ignorance of the actual mechanism.  I'm as certain as can be that invoking an Old Testament or Qu'ran style Creator god is not an explanation that I find credible or useful. 

Claims that science requires belief in itself and that it must start from unproven assumptions are, in my opinion, merely an example of desperation and the need to rationalise the irrational.  As Kenny Wyland wrote in the comments of the recent post A life without belief is possible - if not preferable! :

"Ah, but the part that I think you, and many other theists, miss is that actual science combats this problem. A single scientist _absolutely_ has a pre-conceived idea and attempts to prove that idea exists. They research, they experiment and then publish their findings... which are then VERIFIED by other scientists who do not have the same initial bias that scientist had.

That's why it doesn't take faith to believe scientific findings, because knowledge gleaned through science strips away individual biases and relies upon independent verification. The scientific community may run with a reasonable hypothesis for a short period of time, in order to experiment with it and verify, but if the community cannot produce verifiable and reliable information then it eventually discards the notion until additional evidence is introduced. "

The scientific process is imperfect, but at least it is self-correcting, whereas the religious approach has no such virtues.  Let's face it.  A creator god has no right to a place in the mind of any truly rational thinker.


krissthesexyatheist said...

That is the beauty of science, ya know, being self correcting and all. Also, i think the diff between Team Atheist and 'them' is that 'they' 'know' the answers (or at least claim that they do), while skeptics and atheists say "I don't know, yet, therefore i'm let's find out, together."

Awesome buddy...if i don't get back here in time Happy New Year, Happy New Beer and thanks for coming to my blog ocassionally and good luck to you and your in the upcoming year.


Anonymous said...

Wonderfully said!

Anonymous said...

Found your site through the Long Man of Wilmington. It's Qur'an, with a hiccup before the 'a'. Have you ever read Carl Jung's essay on Modern Man in Search of a Soul? He talks a bit on where a faith in science is needed, based on assumptions that are tacit and largely not talked about. Science seems now as if a Religion. Can a different be found between stones atop each other without mortar?