Spirituality and Science

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Atheists often hide their belief system or worldview behind a facade of science.

One of the frequent things some of my atheistic friends will say to me is, how can you believe in God and all that “stuff” in the Bible, when science has “clearly” proven all of it wrong.

Atheism requires a belief system that is just as much faith as it is science. But that is hard for many to see or admit. They want to say that science is “fact” – they don’t like the word truth. Its a fact.

Science is based on proving a hypothesis. A proven hypothesis is not a fact, nor is it truth. It is an opinion, supported by facts, that has not yet been overturned by new facts. No more, no less.

The problem with science, and any other endeavor that relies on human observation is that our observation is not “physical” – it is “metaphorical”. We see radiation in the frequencies of visible light – but the metaphor we use to express them is “color”. And we don’t all observe color exactly the same way.

Every metaphor that we create is layered on top of what we currently understand. So the words we use to express a new fact we observe are only as good as the facts we understood before we observed it. Next week, a new fact will be observed, that will explain the prior phenomena differently, and our metaphoric hypothesis will change. It isn’t about science. It is about language and human expression.

I believe in God, because I see the evidence of order rather than chaos, and a universe comprised of orderly systems that obey rules, rather than something more capricious. I believe in the Bible, because it is compatible with the evidence of order that I observe in the universe of orderly systems. In order to hold that view, in light of the often strange and unusual events (miracles and such) that are described in the Bible I have to reflect on the humans involved in the authorship and their understanding of the facts. They “heard God’s voice”, but being human they understood in metaphors supported by the facts they had observed.

Things that trip atheists up in the Bible account of creation like the notion God created the heavens and the earth in six days then he rested on the seventh day. Metaphorically speaking, I don’t know what a “day” is to God. God is eternal, he exists outside of time as we humans observe it. Humans count time in units described by the earth’s movement relative to the sun. God said it took six somethings and whomever heard his voice interpreted it as days. The first of those somethings, the basis around which we form our concept of “Day” didn’t exist.  Clearly metaphorical.  Perhaps someday, science will solve it. I can move beyond it.

The notion of “spirit”, “soul”, or “ghost” is difficult for atheists. Our current science does not have a hypothesis correlated to these metaphors. They are said to be metaphysical – not of this world. Science as we understand it today is exclusively “of this world”. Whatever – beings who can exist on other dimensions than the four we live in (include time) and I have an unprovable hypothesis about how the spirit world works.

The human body is comprised of less than $5 worth of chemicals. How does science then help us establish the value of life? How does science even define life? We can observe life, but I’m afraid that humanity to date still does not have sufficient observable facts and metaphors to define life – it is merely a phenomenon that we can observe and can observe the absence of it, but we can neither define it, nor create it. Our science is insufficient for that.

So what I say is that the Bible is God’s word. It is Truth. Not fact. The two are different. Just because it IS truth, doesn’t mean that I understand the truth, or can express the truth. The interpretation of the Bible is a linguistic, anthropological, semantic, metaphoric challenge – but that doesn’t deny that it IS TRUTH. TRUTH does not change – but our understanding of truth does. This is the same, exactly the same, as science. Our observations and hypotheses and opinions don’t change the truth. The truth is the truth. But our understanding is a completely different matter.

There are some religious people who think that they have an exclusive and correct interpretation of the truth. This makes them dogmatic. unfortunately it often also makes them arrogant, haughty, and proud. Some of those people’s truth comes in the form of science, others from some scripture.

Those who claim to want to learn, cannot claim to already know.

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