God, Science and The Fight for Meaning

Artwork: Death and Life | Gustav Klimt

Science has a knack for draining all of the beauty out of things. Or at least that seems to be the general consensus among people with the fuzziest of feelings.

Love is just a scheme to make babies.

Beauty is just overactive pattern recognition software.

And at the end of the day, no matter how good or talented you are it’s just the work of your genes forcing you to act in a way that has proved most beneficial to your ancestors.

And what do these experts replace all of our grandiose notions with?

Nothing but cold dead laws and processes.

But despite how the scientific revolution might make us feel, it certainly has improved living conditions in the past few hundred years. The religions of the world, even with all of their poetry and art, couldn’t seem to do much for mortality rates.

What do People Need for Things to Feel Meaningful?

People tend to find purpose in older ways of thinking. Often involving a God. The idea that the world has a set direction and a plan. In many religions there is also a loving creator who values us.

People tend to be drawn to the idea that our creator knows us and has made room for us and that we’re not just some accident stuck in our own little corner of the world.

But if this is not the case. If we are simply alone and left to make what we can of the world, then shouldn’t we be aware of it no matter how it makes us feel?

There have been arguments in the past that despite the truth people should be kept in the dark simply because believing in a more meaningful world would make them happier.

Pascal famously argued that we should believe in a God simply to hedge our bets. But most people within the religious community don’t take such compromises with the truth seriously.

People who believe tend to actually believe rather than simply play along.

Is a Scientific World Really Meaningless?

I sometimes wonder what it is we really lose if we take the universe to be only what it presents to our senses.

People really do have feelings of love and beauty and meaning regardless of where it comes from. Whether or not these feelings are coming from a God or something else does not change the fact that they exist.

The universe does seem to have a knack for creating complex life that searches for meaning. If there is a God making it this way then we have a basis for meaning. If not we still have a universe that seems to be headed in a direction.

And we are certainly born into that process even if we can’t say exactly where it comes from.

We may not have a loving god, but with or without one, horrible and wonderful things still happen to us. If you felt safe thinking there was someone watching out for you then you are no less safe if you then decide there isn’t one.

The change is only in your head.

The religious believe that a God not only punishes or praises them but gives them a natural sense for what is good. Without that god we still have that sense of right and wrong.

Whether or not God exists, or whether that God is one way or another, our situation in life has not changed. We are alive and have a sense for beauty and love and justice.

All of this is not an argument against God. Believe as you like. But if you decide that you do not believe in God then don’t take that to mean you have lost something.

God has always either existed or not existed. Your beliefs do not change that fact. Nor can they rob you of anything you felt at any other point in your life.

Something truly strange is going on. Life is bizarre, Humanity is more bizarre and no one knows why the hell anything is here in the first place. All of that is ridiculous and frightening and beautiful.

No matter what.

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