August 7, 2003

Embrace Uncertainty

A number of things (this Brights Movement among them) have me thinking about what I hear people say when they challenge the naturalistic worldview.

I hear a lot of ďscience canít explain X, science canít explain Y, therefore I need to believe that the world is balanced on the back of a giant turtle.Ē Or somesuch.

I say: believe what you like. If you want to believe in a giant turtle, go right ahead*. But donít go blaming science. You see, science doesnít have to explain everything. Itís the best system we have for explaining the physical world, but itís still a human endeavor, and that means it takes time to grow its body of knowledge.

I have seen some strange things in my life for which I didnít have an explanation. But just because they were beyond my ability to explain doesnít mean that a force from another plane of existence was involved. And wouldnít that be rather presumptuous of me? If Iím not smart enough or knowledgeable enough to explain something, it must be pixies or aliens doing it, right? Wrong.

Why not cast aside your fears of doubt and ignorance? You canít avoid uncertainty, so you might as well accept it. Iím willing to admit I donít have an explanation for everything, and I donít need those loose ends tied up by ghosts and spirits. Or deus ex machina.

So, have your beliefs. But if the failings of science are leading you to believe strange things, you were simply setting it up for a fall in the first place.

[* I am not trying to ridicule people who believe in god(s). I am not comparing god(s) to a giant turtle. I seriously do believe that religious beliefs are a personal ďwhatever gets you through the dayĒ sort of thing. My only gripe will be if your religious beliefs leak over into your beliefs about the workings of the natural world and you start telling me that the turtle is going to consume the world if we donít start killing Star-bellied Sneetches posthaste. Or unless we honor the Wednesday Sabbath by prohibiting the sale of Hot Tamales and limes.]

Posted by James at August 7, 2003 11:45 AM
Create Social Bookmark Links
Comments

well, if the world has to be balanced on the back of a giant turtle then I'm glad it's Gamera and not that surfer--dude turtle from Finding Nemo. :)

Rui

Posted by: Rui Campos at August 7, 2003 8:45 PM

Copyright © 1999-2007 James P. Burke. All Rights Reserved