Skeptical? Why not?

Misguided had provided some very nice video clips of a seminar by the title “beyond belief”, where few scientists voiced their opinions about the correlation of science with religion. It took me quite some time to finish watching all the clips and that was not easy considering other errands I had while traveling. Nevertheless; I used every minute I could spare and I really enjoyed every bit of it. I also recommend it to the ones with open mindedness.

Misguided asked me a question in response to my comment of losing faith during Ramadan of the last year, he asked; what happened last Ramadan that changed my perception about God. I tried to answer his question, but found out that my answer took two pages, so I decided to have it in a post considering it’s importance, although this was a personal issue. Now to answer his question let’s look at the mathematical model Richard Dawkins presented in his book ”The God Delusion”:
He presented the correlation of blasphemy and religious faith as a mathematical straight line, where blind faith resides in “+infinity” and changes according to each individual towards “0” and then to “– infinity” where supposedly blasphemy resides, and in between you’d find skepticism, agnosticism and so on as you head towards “0” from the other side of the line.

Now I would add to that the effect of science as another dimension that correlates in parallel to both. And as misguided mentioned that not many scientists agreed on the inexistence of the intelligent design although they believe in scientific evidences that shaked the grounds of this fact. And therefore I could say with confidence that none of those scientists had their beliefs blindly resided in “+infinity”, and very few were in between “0” and “+infinity”, while also no one’s belief resided in “–infinity”, which is understandable since science is an evolutionary process and not certain facts, but most of them were somewhere between “0” and “–infinity”.

Now, if I talk about myself, I may say that I have always been in oscillation between “+infinity” and close to “0”; My interest in science and its advancements gave me the bases to form a skeptical outlook toward the intelligent design, yet, my emotional state and my long time relationship with the creator kept me in a state of total denial. My relationship with the scriptures also suffered a big blow every time I tried to make sense of it, yet, I always either blamed that on the misinterpretation or man-manipulation through time progression. But Ramadan was always a special occasion for me, not that I have been unfaithful all year long, but more of a solitary ritualistic occasion where I always found my grounds, you may say, in relationship with the creator.

Now having said that; last Ramadan I fell on my back and broke some ribs, the accident forced me to stay most of Ramadan lying on my back, and being alone most of the time thinking about all the things that I have accomplished in life and things that I wanted to accomplish and never had a chance to. I also started thinking about the purpose of my existence on earth and what I considered priority before my time ends. And although I have always known that humanity was my first priority, yet, I never really thought about it deep enough.

And looking through this lens led me to believe that this creator I relied so much on didn’t really care; so much madness and disasters were all around, of which most were due to man intervention, yet the creator never intervened to put a stop to them. I also realized that morality could be wavered according to one’s belief, especially at that time when people were diverse in their opinion about the war on Lebanon. I have to admit that those were the saddest moments of my life when I suddenly admitted to myself that my belief in the creator was nothing but smoke in the air, but I wanted to hold on to this belief for a personal interest, personal satisfaction through spiritual means, which was a selfish motive.

But was the existence of a creator mandatory to this self-satisfaction? Not really, I am a yoga person and I have sought this satisfaction through meditation, so why was I still in the state of denial? I always relied on rational thinking and logic, then why was I constantly contradicting myself? I was never the type by the way, whatever I believed I had always voiced out loud without fear, so why when it came to this issue in particular I became shaky? And what was the difference between me and the ones in +infinity?

In those moment I decided to be honest to myself before others no matter how hard that was, and believe me it was not easy. But now when I look back, I know that I feel more comfortable with myself knowing that I could contribute to humanity on solid grounds.

That does not mean that religion was all that bad, religion was part of our heritage, our history, our social evolutionary process, yet, it had it’s time and as science develops more each day, we have to evolve accordingly. Keeping the dogmas of the ancient would only take us back in time; it creates hatred when it segregates people into groups. And I came to the conclusion that no matter how much we try to tolerate each other, religion enforces these differences for it constantly keeps nourishing on it; Jews hate Moslems as a part of their belief, Moslems hate Jews for the same reasons, Christians hate both, and none respect Sikhs and Buddhists or any other religion.

Science taught us that we all share red blood, none of us has blue, yet religion enforces the differences, and the one who caused all this does not give a hoot. Nuclear weapons are increasing each day, and whoever resides in “+infinity” would not stop it; end of time where justice would prevail is part of each belief, spreading faith, be it by force, is also a part of each belief. Now where does humanity stand in all this? And if human destroyed earth one day, do we have the right to call ourselves the most intelligent beings on earth? Hardly so.

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16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Misguided
    Dec 11, 2006 @ 06:23:23

    “If man chooses to turn his back altogether on God and the future, no one can prevent him; no one can show beyond a reasonable doubt that he is mistaken. If a man thinks otherwise and acts as he thinks, I do not see that they can prove that he is mistaken. Each must act as he thinks best; and if he is wrong, so much the worse for him.

    We stand on a mountain pass in the midst of a whirling snow and blinding mist, through which we get glimpses now and then of paths which may be deceptive. If we take the wrong road we shall be dashed to pieces. We do not certainly know whether there is any right one, What must we do?
    ‘Be strong and of a good courage.’ Act for the best, hope for the best, and take what comes…

    If death ends all, we cannot meet death better.”

    From A Will To Believe

    For More on this click here. You will find this an interesting read I am sure. 🙂

    Reply

  2. AyyA
    Dec 11, 2006 @ 07:42:35

    I do agree with the first part of the quote except for “Each must act as he thinks best; and if he is wrong, so much the worse for him”. And the reason for that is I believe that the matter is not personal anymore. I would reiterate that to “if he is wrong, so much the worse for humanity” and I believe that history time and again proved that we can’t equate between the none-believers and the believers when the matter concerns humanity. The believer is asked to intervene, the spread of blasphemy is a curse that he is enforced to fight. Take Noah’s story for example; according to religious beliefs disasters strike when people go astray from the dogmas, this is a preaching within the Judeo-Christian-Islamic faiths, and the believers are asked to stop it even if that meant using force. And this is the point that is worrying me the most.

    Reply

  3. q80_demon
    Dec 11, 2006 @ 08:52:21

    Great post AyyA, and it is always refreshing to read your thoughts. About the quote provided by Misguided, the argument is a repackaged version of the so called “Pascal’s Wager”. If we turn to The God Delusion, this is how Richard “The Great” Dawkins responds:
    “Pascal’s wager could only ever be an argument for  feigning belief in God. And the God that you claim to believe in had better not be of the omniscient kind or he’d see through the deception”.

    Reply

  4. Misguided
    Dec 11, 2006 @ 11:43:02

    Q80_demon:

    I strongly suggest you read the comment again. The quote is from a William James’ lecture. He himself scoffs at Pascal’s wager. Where in that qoute did you find pascal’s wager?

    The quote does not ask you to feign belief in God. Rather it asks us to be more tolerant of other people’s belief. God’s existence cannot be proven or disproved.

    I suggest you read the article before jumping to conclusions.

    AyyA: Agreed.. just look over to what is happening to Iraq. I am glad you enjoyed the lecture series. You will also enjoy watching this series of videos. I think it does a good job of putting things in context. You really need to get all sides of a story before making any assumption. I get the sense you’ve bought every Dawkins argument. Nothing is really Black and white in life. Especially when it comes to matters of religion and faith.

    Reply

  5. Misguided
    Dec 11, 2006 @ 11:45:04

    woops! I gave you the wrong link.

    This one should work 😛

    Reply

  6. AyyA
    Dec 11, 2006 @ 19:58:37

    Guys
    I’m really enjoying this intellectual argument here, so let me remind you that faith has a very different approach than science; faith can’t be wavered even with scientific evidences, it lies in “+infinity” as per Dawkin’s mathematical model. And what we call fundamentalism is in reality nothing but faith. Once this faith is wavered then is becomes skepticism, be it on different degrees per individuals. And since religion has been a long part of our history, faith becomes very hard to waver when it comes to believers and that’s why we can easily find fundamentals in all religions. But science is comparatively an evolving new field; and all it’s theories were based on assumptions and not absolute truths. Yet, without those assumptions we would have never advanced forward. And the more we advance, the more we could forecast and analyze events. But we’d hardly see any one in “-infinity”, simply because there are no absolute truths in science. Take the theory of intelligent design as an example, if I compare that scientifically to evolution theory and the natural selection, the latter would definitely win the argument, because simply there are evidences that support it, yet to the faithful, this remains to be a dead wire as William James argued. The gap here then remains to be void and there will never be a mid-point where they can correlate in harmony. And as I mentioned before if the matter remains personal, then no harm done, but unfortunately faith is not a personal matter when it comes to religion, it’s a totalitarian issue.
    Misguided:
    I am for Richard Dawkins argument; I think he’s a great scientist and thinker although I was shocked to hear his speech on the clip. What shocked me the most was his approach to de-religionise (my invention) the world although I do perfectly understand his motives. Unlike the way he presented his ideas on the clip, his book was much more convincing. On the video clip he sounded more or less like the fundamentalists. And I believe that with this approach we will only widen the gab between the two infinities. I believe that it’s too early to stand on such a firm ground, not because of the lack of evidences, but more because things need their own time to evolve, at this stage science can only waver beliefs, but not provide absolute truths like faith does.
    I may have more to comment when I check the video clips you provided as soon as I find the time, thanks dear and ciao for now 😀

    Reply

  7. AyyA
    Dec 11, 2006 @ 22:24:36

    Misguided
    For some reason I could not open the video files, but I listened to the audio and I could see what you meant by being open to all options before making assumptions. Of course this is the most logical thing to do. Or else how would we consider ourselves open minded if we just take one argument and form a belief based on it.
    One more thing I wanted to add is that being open to different sides gave me the sense of injustice in weighing the different arguments. Meaning; religiosity is embedded within us emotionally while science does not deal with emotions, it deals with facts. Let me give an example to make my point clear: assume that you tell a 12 year old kid that he may have been accidentally swapped with another baby in the hospital when he was born, and that there are no available records that show who are his biological parents. This information would shake the emotional grounds of this kid. He would want to know his biological parents, and at the same time he wouldn’t want to give up on the couple that raised him. His attitude toward the surrogate parents might change; he might form a skeptical outlook on the bond with every act his parents perform, especially when it comes to punishment and reward. This is emotionally tiring, but with time he may or may not get used to it and accept it, yet he’d always be biased to his surrogate parents. This metaphor was quite easy to grasp, but the effect of science on faith is much more complex than that, it raises other questions that you practically have no answer to, questions like; what is the purpose of life then? And is there an afterlife? And if there is then how would it be? It is a total shift in paradigm that not everyone is ready to accept. Beliefs give a sense of security, while science does not really care. And in this sense I do not see any justice in comparing the two; you’d always find some who are biased to the original belief.

    Reply

  8. q80_demon
    Dec 11, 2006 @ 22:53:43

    Misguided, from your quotation:
    “ We stand on a mountain pass in the midst of a whirling snow and blinding mist, through which we get glimpses now and then of paths which may be deceptive. If we take the wrong road we shall be dashed to pieces. We do not certainly know whether there is any right one, What must we do?
‘Be strong and of a good courage.’ Act for the best, hope for the best, and take what comes… If death ends all, we cannot meet death better.” Now, in a nutshell, how goes the Pascal Wager? We don’t know if there is a creator, but if one believes (worships. prays, …), then there might be a reward for him after death. Its a better gambit to die a believer. And if you are fond of reading 19th century articles, may I suggest you turn your attention to the writings of Robert Ingersoll.

    As for your point, “God’s existence cannot be proven or disproved.” Thank you for stating the obvious: for something that claims to be the ultimate truth, it should be easy for science to demonstrate its existence. So far, the evidence simply does not exist, PERIOD!

    About Dawkins and why we “bought” his arguments, its rather obvious really. He uses a simple tool that is universally accepted and which is totally devoid of emotions, dogmas and myths. Its called science.

    Ayya: Organized faith becomes religion; and organized religion becomes dogma, and repeatedly history has shown that dogmatic principles are far from tolerant. Regardless of what anyone would claim: religions, all religions, are not tolerant of other forms of belief/disbelief.

    As for Dawkins, actually his call to de-religionise the world permeates his writings including his latest book and TV program. His reasoning: humanity has lived and suffered long under the shadows of myths.

    At the end, allow me to introduce you to the GGSD scale, which stands for: Gingerich-Gardner-Shermer-Dawkins. Actually, it used to be the GGSS scale, but Carl Sagan is dead. I like to think of it as a 4-star system, while AR likes to point out that it is a 4-quadrant scale. I’m not going to delve into it right now, but suffice it to say that I consider myself a 3.5 (Shermer/Dawkins).

    Reply

  9. Ms.Baker
    Dec 12, 2006 @ 01:06:43

    Q80Demon-

    Who says that God – or the Creator – isn’t a “scientist”? Why should there be this dichotomy between the existence of the Creator and the study of the Creator’s technology?

    I do not think it is what God is or is not, but how we have manifested whatever he is in our universe according to the limitations of our boundlessly creative little human imaginations that has wrought so much destruction. And whose fault is that? Dawkins views, although quite coherent, rational, and certainly scientific in most respects, fail to address the possibility of his own incorrectness, relying greatly on the strength of a posteriori arguments. I disagree with him on many things, and his presumptuous crusade ticks me off.

    Don’t you think it is possible God has nothing to do with the organized religions we have created as systematic social frameworks designed to satisfy our human need to worship? Perhaps God exists outside the mental and social boxes we place our concepts of him in as Christians, Muslims, atheists, scientists, writers, ice-cream vendors, pitiful excuses for human beings, or whatever. My point is that it is likely God has nothing to do with how we have made him out to be.

    Being fascinated by cosmology (which began after reading as much as I could grasp at the time of Andrei Linde’s “Inflation and Quantum Cosmology” in college) rather than human philosophical debate or conjecture on God’s existence, has functioned very personally in proving to me that actually, for me it is very simple. I have no idea what the Creator is or why he does not want to jump out and show Himself to me whenever I want him to or want my life to go the way I would like it (and also stop murder in Darfur, world hunger, killing of babies etc…People tend to forget that God created “evil” just as he created “good”). But I see an overpowering amount of hard-core scientific evidence all around me in fields both great and small, that he does indeed exist.

    Again, maybe he just doesn’t exist in a manner that provides a satisfactory humanly comprehensible explanation for us that jibes with our sensibilities and our views of science.

    Which actually brings us back to Misguided’s quote about mountain passes and paths. Since we can neither prove nor disprove on satisfactory human terms – without a shadow of doubt – that he exists or does not exist, each should decide which snow-blinded path he wants to take a gamble on with his life – or afterlife.

    Ms. B, hoping she made sense at this sleepy late hour

    Reply

  10. q80_demon
    Dec 12, 2006 @ 04:47:52

    M Baker:
    OK, its late – or early, depends on where on the planet you are. So you are saying we created God upon our own desires and whims? Lets agree on one thing: what is meant by “God”? Fortunately, Dawkins has the answer in chapter 1: quoting Carl Sagan: “If by God one means the set of physical laws that govern the universe, then clearly there is such a God. This God is emotionally unsatisfying … it does not make much sense to pray to the law of gravity.” A designer god needs a designer who would need a … , Stephen Hawking pointed out in his Brief History of Time that within a completely self-contained boundary-less universe without a certain beginning or end, what is the place of the creator? And a fine-tuning god is redundant: if Darwinism inspired something in our understanding of the universe, its that the variety was see around us is spontaneous. Further discussions on Chapter 4: Why There almost Certainly is No God.
    BTW, I don’t know why you feel Dawkins is presumptuous? Just because you don’t like his arguments or because he ticks you off? There is no law that states great minds should be nice, cute and adorable – one of the greatest minds in history was Issac Newton, we all know that – but do we need to learn that he was a nasty and spiteful SOB who would shamelessly lampoon those with handicaps?

    “It is precisely among the the heretics of every age that we fid men who were filled with the highest kind of religious feeling and were in many cases regarded by their contemporaries as atheists.” – Albert Einstein

    To finish, you say you have found “hard-core scientific evidence all around … in fields both great and small, that he does indeed exist.” Go ahead, enlighten us. But remember Dawkins chapter 1 and Sagans quote.

    Reply

  11. AyyA
    Dec 12, 2006 @ 22:41:13

    DA
    Although I hate categorization, but just to let you know where do my beliefs lie according to the GGSD scale, I’d say 2.9, but I’m sure that would change as I get to know more, and as science advances 🙂

    Mr.B
    We only know about the idea of creation through religion. And if we believe in the theory of creation then that also came as a part of our religious beliefs. And once we do believe in that then how could we discard the whole religion if our basic knowledge came from it? In other words; we have to believe that earth is only few thousand years old although science had proved that it’s billions of years old. We also have to believe in the creation of evil and good, as well as Jin although we know that Adam and Eve couldn’t have existed according to the Darwinian theory. As for me; I have a firm belief in science, yet at the same time I do not discard the probability of the existence of God. Not the God that was mentioned as a creator in the scripture, but more like some entity that is yet to be found. And believe me I would not rest a bit until I find Him. Do I make any sense?
    Been a long time; missed you girl :*

    Reply

  12. l's brain
    Dec 13, 2006 @ 09:29:43

    Ayya. yeah, tell me why not? are there still people with open mindedness? I’ve been struggling with “faith” and “religion” since I was 15. and it doesn’t feel good. it kills me whenever i try to figure things out. whenever i pretend. thanx for sharing the link. loved this post.

    Reply

  13. AyyA
    Dec 13, 2006 @ 20:14:11

    Hi L’s brain
    And welcome to my humble quarters any time.
    I checked your blog and read about you losing some friends because of your beliefs. This goes to show you how intolerant and judgmental we are when it comes to religion. I might assume that those friends of yours were even far from religiosity, but when it comes to beliefs they get offended just by knowing that your brains functions differently than theirs. I lost many as well. Friends who drink at parties and have sex with total strangers, then when we get into conversation about God, they won’t hear of it. Now this confuses me; why do they have such a firm belief as they try to convey, and at the same time they find it hard to apply the dogmas of their religion? I’m not being judgmental here and I don’t care really how they conduct their lives although I don’t personally approve of most of what they do. And that does not make them less friends. But why when it comes to my beliefs they find it offensive to them? And why would they ruin our friendship because of that?
    Those whom we call friends are not so dear; I realized that such friends I’m better off without. A friend is the one who accepts me the way I am, not the way he wants me to pretend to be.

    Reply

  14. AyyA
    Dec 13, 2006 @ 20:23:52

    Oh and btw
    You might be interested to read my Ramadaniyat, check them out, you’ll see the links on the sidebar 😀

    Reply

  15. غريب
    Dec 17, 2006 @ 00:36:00

    الصور عجيبه

    Reply

  16. AyyA
    Dec 17, 2006 @ 06:50:38

    Thanks sweetie, how sre you doing bro? I missed you

    Reply

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