Error

“Life is no argument, for the conditions of life could include error,” wrote F. Nietzsche, one of my favorite quotes, and I like to apply it to the Darwinians who tend to reduce everything to an over-simplified cause (e.g. Dawkins traces the origins of religion to childhood gulllibility – children have to obey their elders or else they’d run into life threatening danger all the time). The truth of it, it seems to me, is that evolution is much more complex than simple causes and effects. Life forms evolve through billions of fortunate mistakes (adaptations) over millions and billions of years. If it were not so, we might all be cats. Instead, there is this enormous variety. It’s a more beautiful vision, but one that calls for an allowance of ambiguity, uncertainty and an ultimate unknowing. Scientists who desire certainty as much as theists do make the same mistake of over-simplification. It’s okay. The world is vast and time is long.

Dawkins has that gullible thing as a “pet theory” about religion, and I’m sure he’s partly tongue-in-cheek about it. My own “pet theory” if you will, is that we are in many ways subject to the physical limitations of the brain. We see a certain range of colors and hear a certain range of sounds, and probably for no good survival-of-the-fittest reason, or if there once was one, it is long since obsolete. For example, I doubt we recently had predators who squeaked in the range of parakeets, yet we can hear them perfectly well.

My sense is that the brain functions by transforming chaos into order. It’s just how it operates. The brain blocks out most of the sensory information that comes its way, for better or for worse. Religion, and Science for that matter, fall into place quite naturally as ‘making order out of chaos’ brain operations. The brain likes to form general systems that are able explain anything everything to itself, and then it convinces itself it is correct. Science is the current state of knowledge about the world that has yet to prove itself to be wrong, but at least its assertions can be demonstrated with experiment and equipment. Religion is just a wild ass guess.

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One thought on “Error

  1. The idea that religion and science are somehow opposed to each other is a very recent one, historically speaking, as is the idea that asserting that there is no God is somehow less a religious idea than asserting that there is one. Most of the body of knowledge that we call “science” comes from observations from people who believed that the universe has laws because the universe has a Legislator.

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