For most of the history of mankind, gods or God, explained reality. God made us, the plants and animals. Any event in nature, whether good or bad, was caused by gods or God. Then science came along and explained rain, thunderstorms, earthquakes, eclipses, droughts, stars, planets, and so on. When science explained the origin of animals and people, some religious people rebelled.
We now have people that reject science because they want to keep God. They feel science is explaining away God. I’m afraid they are right. But instead of accepting reality and letting God fade away, like the gods before monotheism, they are rejecting reality. When I was very young I rejected God and accepted science mainly because of the size of reality. Reality seemed too immense to have been created by one being, especially one in our image. Take a look at this video to see what I mean.
God was a great concept when our awareness of reality was small but once you realize the size of reality, age and scope, even at the limits of what we know now, that knowledge changes everything philosophically. Humans can’t be the crown of creation. We can’t be the center of the universe and the focus of God’s attention. We can’t be special if we’re so small and insignificant.
So what is our place in the reality? Years ago I would have asked, what is our place in the universe, but it appears our universe might be one of an infinity of universes, and this round of 13.7 billion years since the Big Bang, only a single bubble in a foam of universes. Science now talk of the multiverse, but I prefer the term reality to encompass it all.
Humans are here in this vast reality by an accident of randomness. We won’t always be here. Reality existed before us, and it will exist after us. Being here is the biggest miracle we’ve yet discovered. It’s a miracle that outshines any miracle ever recorded in all of the religions of the world.
I think its time we reject the theory of God and start accepting reality for what it is. Start asking questions about what existing in this vast reality means. Becoming self-aware in this immense reality is a great opportunity. Instead of destroying the Earth and committing species suicide we need to think about what we could become. Don’t ask what is our purpose. Under religion our purpose was to obey God. Reality doesn’t work that way. We each have to find our own purpose if we want one, but reality expects nothing of us. We can’t have a personal relationship with reality. Each of us is an awareness of reality, but most of us pretend we’re not here.
Erase all the past thoughts of religion and philosophy. You just woke up in an unknown place. Take stock in your surroundings. You know that old saying, think global but act local – do the same for reality. Our philosophy should be based on our best picture of reality. Start with cosmology and work your way down. Most people define reality by their very small personal delusions. I say, any philosophy that doesn’t account for the size of reality dooms itself to a cockroach mentality. A cockroach scurries about satisfying its personal urges unaware of its environment. A cockroach does not know it’s in your kitchen because it doesn’t see the big picture.
There is only one human endeavor that tells us about reality, and that’s science. I suggest starting at the top, and work down. NOVA presented a wonderful four part series called The Fabric of the Cosmos hosted by Brian Greene based on his book of the same name.
Fabric of the Cosmos 1: What is Space?
Fabric of the Cosmos 2: The Illusion of Time
Fabric of the Cosmos 3: Quantum Leap
Fabric of the Cosmos 4: University or Multiverse
Maybe there’s still room for religion in reality, I don’t know. But any religion that ignores what we know about reality is delusional.
JWH – 2/11/12
2 thoughts on “Accepting Reality”
Jim, the problem with religion is that it’s faith-based. If it were evidence-based, it would be science. So is there room for religion in a reality-based worldview? I don’t think so, not without completely redefining what “religion” means.
Some scientists are religious believers, of course. But that seems to be just the natural human ability to believe in contradictory things. If you understand the value of evidence-based thinking, how can you decide not to use it in particular circumstances, when you’d prefer to believe something for which there is no good evidence? Well, we human beings aren’t always consistent.
One caveat: I agree that we’re here because of an “accident of randomness” (at least, there’s no evidence otherwise), but as you know, that doesn’t mean that everything which happens is random.
Evolution, for example, is a natural process. Mutations might be random, but the mechanism of natural selection is not. I hear creationists claim that evolution is like a tornado hitting a junkyard and creating a 747 jet by accident. Of course, they’re just showing their ignorance. It’s not like that in the slightest.
You know that, of course. But it always bothers me when too much attention is paid to the “random accident” part of life. There’s a lot more to it than that. And as ignorant as Americans, at least, tend to be about evolution, I always want to mention that.
Bill, you read too much into my state about accident of randomness. It’s only meant to oppose the common believe that we’re here because God created the world for us. Most people innately feel we should be here for a reason, a purpose, and most feel it’s a divine purpose. My remark was to oppose that belief. But I would also say that evolution is a random accident of reality. It appears that our universe might be one of many, even an infinite number of universes, and in our universe evolution works. In slightly different universes evolution wouldn’t work, or not like it does here.
I believe we’re an accidental byproduct of reality going through an infinity of permutations. I don’t think some being created reality with the intent of brewing up intelligent beings. I don’t think reality was created. It just exists and probably has always existed and always will. But it also appears that everything within reality has a beginning and end – nothing lasts – so everything within reality constantly churns through various states of existence.
Religious people want to believe that reality was design or created. The evidence we have suggests not. Without a creator everything happens essentially randomly. Within some local universes various kinds order emerge and function by rules bounded by the nature of that universe. There is exactness to how evolution works in this universe, but it’s still a product of random events in the larger reality.
Someday we might understand how something emerges from nothing and its mechanism will define the scope of what’s possible in reality, but as of now, random events is about as close as we can define when describing how reality works. Random can lead to some very sophisticated patterns.