Monday, June 7, 2010
Never give up! Never surrender! - the pursuit of knowledge for the easy.
As I was eating my home-made macaroni and cheese at lunch, I watched the June 2nd episode of The Daily Show. Morgan Freeman was Jon Stewart's guest. As you may or may not know, Morgan Freeman has been the narrator for many Science programs and movies. He is also the executive producer of an upcoming TV show called "Through the Wormhole," which also revolves around science. Because he seems to be drawn to things of science, I assumed he was an atheist.
a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings.
I cannot be sure if Jon Stewart is an atheist because he seems to be a very intelligent and rational person but he also makes remarks that make me think he believes in something. However, he could just be entertaining the idea without accepting it (something I will be doing a lot of in this post), but where he stands when it comes to religion isn't clear to me. As I began watching the clip, I thought Morgan Freeman seemed like a respectable individual who accepts evolution, favours scientific explanations, and, therefore, rejects religion. But to my surprise, Morgan Freeman is not an atheist. Right up until the end of the segment I was with him. Right up until he said, "Whatever scientists don't know becomes a god factor." That's where he lost me.
Why must we use a god to explain the unexplainable? Why are we so uncomfortable with the unknown? Why must we have answers to everything even if the ones we're offered are illogical and/or wrong? Why do illogical/wrong answers satisfy our curiosity? Why allow the knowledge of ourselves and the universe be limited to "good enough?"
the one Supreme Being, the creator and ruler of the universe. (It should say "the presumed supreme being lalalala that so, so and so believe in.")
Although he neither specified which god he believes in, nor did he mention religion, Morgan Freeman does appear to believe in a "Creator." This is where things get a little tricky. I will admit that it is possible there was a being that helped create some of the objects in space, such as our planet Earth. Does that make me a theist? No. I used the word "being" because if something (note: not someONE) created or helped create anything, it was not a god and it really doesn't give a shit what we do on Earth. It was not omniscient, it was not omnipotent, and it certainly didn't tell any sheep-herders what to write in a book. Unless you know something I don't, the being also didn't stick around Earth if it was ever even there to begin with.
belief in the existence of a god on the evidence of reason and nature only, with rejection of supernatural revelation (distinguished from theism).
belief in a God who created the world but has since remained indifferent to it.
Does that mean I am a deist? No. I am only open to the possibility that a being of some sort, not a god, may have had a hand (or tentacle, antennae, claw, talon, toe, tongue, alien-equivalent-of-a-sneeze) in the creation of... the universe. I am hesitant to say universe because I don't accept this idea and saying it makes me twitch. Until there is credible evidence for deist ideas, I'm okay with not knowing how we got here. I don't need to know. I'm here; that's all I know, and that's all I have to deal with.
I'd like to attempt to stretch your brain out a bit. I'm not going to talk about the belief of a 6000 year-old universe and I'm not going to talk about how the universe is, in fact, MUCH older than that. I want to put time aside. This is something my mom and I talked about when I was very young which, now that I think about it, probably opened my mind and allowed me to see a bigger picture of our world. It was the first thing that allowed me to see past the bible and the beliefs of my friends and family, things I didn't actually think much of. It allowed me to realize that there could be so much more to life than humans, animals, plants, bacteria, atoms, planets, galaxies, and universes. If you have ever seen "Men in Black" (See below), this might be easier for you to grasp than for those who have not:
If you think about how tiny the particles our world consists of - protons, neutrons, electrons, molecules, atoms - you can sort of imagine the sizes of these particles compared to the size of your own body. Everything is made up of these particles, yet we cannot actually see them. Now think about us being that size - microscopic and smaller. What larger particle could we be a part of? We could be part of the "soil" found in another organism's "garden."* We could be a part of a bacterium consuming/developing on something that's spoiling in an organism's "refrigerator," or bacteria living on an alien-equivalent-of-a-foot. It's very human of me to say other lifeforms are required to have a refrigerator because I'm pretty sure that even the majority of non-human animals do not require a fridge. Not even we do, in fact. Plus, if anything else out there exists, it's probably not intelligent and it probably doesn't look anything like us; therefore, it likely requires something entirely different to sustain itself. I wish I could explain this better and give clearer, more logical examples and ideas, but if you can at least imagine that space as we know it is just a small part of something incredibly huge, huger than you would ever think possible, either your head will explode (because the concept of an electron alone can be mind-boggling) or you will stop being so selfish about your own insignificant non-significant self. If you're lucky, you're only significant on this planet. That's it.
As my mom and I discussed something similar many years ago, I remember saying to her, "So, we could just be boogers in something's nose?" And frankly, who can prove that we're not? When I thought about being a part of a booger in someone else's nose, in that moment I could see "the camera" zoom out rapidly and it allowed me to see a bigger world than I'd ever imagined. We were the tiny bacteria and "they" were the organisms we stood insignificant next to. And what if "they" were the bacteria of another organism? We'd be the bacteria of the bacteria of the bacteria... and that could extend to unimaginable worlds, organisms, and species - to infinity and beyond.
By the way, who's coming to see Toy Story 3 with me?
I'm actually concerned that if people settle with the "good enough" response to currently unanswerable questions, i.e. "god did it," while there's more to explore but we are happy in our ignorance, then we will cease to pursue the truth, the facts and the evidence that would ultimately lead to a greater understanding of the universe and its origin.
Never cease to pursue knowledge. It is always growing and always wanting to be pursued.
Thank Lucy for intelligent people; they're the only ones who can save us from our restricting beliefs, our comfortable laziness and our self-destructive selves.
* Any gardens or refrigerators owned by other organisms, if they do at all (and they probably don't), would consist of something much different than what ours do. I'm using examples from our world because I don't know of any possible out-of-this-world examples. Yet.