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Monday, July 6, 2015

Scientific Inquiry is My Faith and Helps Me Know God

It seems many people have the following religious notions:
1) Doubting or questioning what others in your church teach you is evil.
2) Knowledge can be acquired simply by believing. Even if there is nothing logically linking that belief to reality it is true simply because it is your faith.

However being born and raised a physicist I have always believed these notions instead:

1) You should question everything. Even if there is reason to belief it. Even if there is evidence to believe it. Even if there is convincing proof to believe it you must still question it and not only ask the question, "Is there a way this can be true?" but the question, "Is there a way this can NOT be true?"

2) There is always a certain degree of uncertainty (and flexibility) in our knowledge. Knowledge is never 100% concrete but is derived objectively from analyzing evidence and testing ideas. While I do believe that belief or faith can lead us to discover what we must to do acquire knowledge or even convey to us directly ideas that after examining the evidence ring true, I do not believe that simply believing is a way to acquire knowledge.

Faith without scientific inquiry leads to believing that the earth is flat and the center of the universe, or that heaven is up in the sky somewhere. It leads to believing that a man named Noah put millions of species of prehistoric animals on his arc (which according to the bible wasn't big enough to hold a small fraction of even the animals that exist on Earth today), or that the dinosaurs died in the flood because they wouldn't fit on the arc.... and that dinosaurs and people somehow coexisted or that dinosaurs came from a different planet (because that's the only way we can twist the evidence to fit our beliefs). 

'Faith' leads people to believe that the hominid skeletons found in Africa are just fakes contrived by followers of Satan to deceive others. It leads people to believe that mater cannot be created or destroyed (but particle physicists do both on a daily basis--it is energy that endures--not mater). It leads people to believe that the earth is only about 6000 years old. 

Empty faith leads people to criticize the Big Bang theory because they don't even bother looking into what the theory actually is. They just belief what others of their faith told them (i.e. that the Big Bang theory says that everything came from nothing and that God doesn't exist) when in reality the Big Bang theory was largely derived from a paper written by a Catholic Priest (Monsignor Georges Lemaître) about the origin of atoms (The theory was originally criticized for being too religious because the idea of matter and our entire universe coming from light seemed to fit the description in Genesis a bit too well--especially if you look at the Hebrew meanings of the words that have been inaccurately translated to waters, expanse and firmament).

If you look at the evidence contrary to these false 'faith'-based beliefs you will discover that there is absolutely no relation to these false beliefs and reality.

Perhaps my religion is an uncommon one because my religion does not use faith and belief as a reason to blind myself to reality. My religion is one where faith guides me to discover reality. It guides me to search, to seek, to study, to discover evidence, to question everything, to examine my own beliefs periodically and eliminate those beliefs that don't match up with the evidence and replace them with ones that do.

For me there is no difference between true science and true religion. The truth is the truth whether you believe in it or not, but it is my religion to seek out the truth and to continue to keep seeking for a better truth until perhaps some day after all is said and done and this life is over I will no longer see through a glass darkly (with uncertainty) but we see and know as God knows and be known as God knows me.

For in death we do not die, but our light returns to that LIGHT which governs all things. For light there is no uncertainty, there is no time, there is no space, there is only an exact and beautifully elegant eternal organization, but in this life light is exactly what we are uncertain about--it governs time, it defines space, it is the birth and death of material existence.

I thank God that every once in a while I am guided to see a glimpse of the light of eternity, and I thank God because physics makes those glimpses ever clearer.


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