Thursday, February 23, 2006

New Look

I actually liked my previous web template. The blue and gold was the color of two of my sports teams, the Lakers and Rams (and once upon a time, the LA Kings too.) It's just that it seemed to be almost everybody else's choice of blog template as well. (Does everyone like the same teams I do? :>) So, I changed it as I refuse to be part of the norm.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

End of Faith

This past Christmas, my father in law informed me that he had recently read Sam Harris' The End of Faith. It was obvious to me that it impacted him greatly. So much, in fact, that he decided that the cure to most world-wide problems would be to simply destroy all religion of the world and force the entire human race to become atheists. He attempted to challenge me by asking me a question:

"Robert, you're a logical-minded guy. you don't believe in any of this faith stuff do you?"

I replied "Well, John, yes I do." John blanched, got very incredulous, and proceeded to try to convince me that any sane individual who can think would discredit the existence of God. So, in his mind, I and so many others have been brainwashed away from the truth.

I'll get around to reading the book eventually. I do occasionally read stuff that is contrary to my own beliefs. For example, political conservative that I am, I read Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them to gain some understanding of those who think differently than me.

So, while I will not talk about the book, per se today. I do want to share of my thoughts about the whole anti-religious movement that is going on. A common theme when it comes to politics and religion is that complicated as they can be, people want to simplify the whole argument by dividing it into just two sides. In this case, it seems to me that the anti-religion group wants to believe that people fall into two categories:

  1. You are a religious nut. You reject science. Your life revolves around meaningless rituals and rules. You behave as you do because a grand reward awaits you after you die if you do what your spiritual leaders tell you is right. Therefore, if your spiritual leader tells you that strapping dynamite to your body and blowing yourself up in some bar is what your god is asking of you, then you had better do it.
  2. You have seen the true light. You realize that religion is for the weak-minded. If humankind would embrace science and sensibility, the major problems of the world would be solved.

What my father in law and others don't seem to understand is that people like me can believe in creation and evolution. They really aren't mutually exclusive. It is for those who insist that every word in the Bible is the written word of God, himself, but I put people like that in the category of extremists.

So, I ponder...

Could God have started the Big Bang or perpetuated the Steady State? I ask this because I have to wonder how far and to what level science can explain the universe. If there was a Big Bang, how did it get there? If science reveals that the universe existed in some form before the Big Bang, then how did that get there?

A human being consists of a combination of chemicals put together in such a way that it moves about, breathes in oxygen, consumes proteins and carbohydrates, and has the ability to contemplate his/her own existence. A scientist can explain how it took billions of years for the process of evolution to mix the chemicals just right in order to make a man or a woman. As one of these human beings, I cannot help but wonder in the mysterious darkness and silence at night if that is really all I am. Did people before me create God to account for this or is a mysterious God really behind all this daring us not to believe in him?

Is religion a crutch? Is it an excuse, allowing us to justify bad behavior? In other words, does religion perpetuate evil? Would the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the 9/11 bombing have occurred if religion did not exist? If not, then it would seem that religion is the bane of the human race. This is what my father in law and many atheists believe.

Those of us with faith, however, believe in moral choice. An individual chooses his/her path, whether they have religious beliefs or not. If a terrorist claims he did some evil deed in the name of Allah, the evil resides in the individual, not Allah. That goes for God, Jehovah, Vishnu, et. al.

I have faith. I have a scientific mind. It's possible, really.

Sunday, February 05, 2006