Scholasticism?

by david on June 15, 2012

Just when I thought I’d fond the voice of reason I get the rug pulled out from under me. In between innings of the Red Sox game I found myself  watching a Hollywood style presentation by Stephen Hawkings on space, time and god. Since I do not believe in god I was interested on his take on the matter.

It was no surprise he offered a scientific explanation of the creation of universe based on the unalterable laws of nature. His argument came down to a theoretical demonstration of the nature of time. As he worked backward in time he offered the hypothesis that time did not exist before the big bang.

Since time is a human construct it was an easy enough statement to accept. Then came the inevitable hubris that seems to afflict all geniuses that have made great contributions to their field. They feel compelled to become a talking head and pontificate on what they cannot possibly know. As Desiderius Erasmus observed back in the fifteen hundreds, “Fools are better off then pretentious wise men, who pretend to know things they can not know.”

Hawkins went on to declare in no uncertain terms that without the existence of time there would be no “place,” in which god could exist before the big bang. Therefore the essential question of god’s existence had been once and for all definitively answered in the negative.

Of course, Hawkings missed the essential point that god being non-corporeal does not require a place or a time in which to exist. If you are a religious person the fact that there is no time or place in which god resided before the big bang is not a stumbling block to faith. Rather it serves to bolster faith; which in the end is based on the very belief that god is the creator of all things including place, time, space and the big bang.

Why do scientists waste their time trying to debunk religion? The two paradigms are not only unrelated, but antithetical to each other. Science’s job is to provide us with facts, temporarily accurate depictions of our world, that help us navigate our daily lives while leaving the salvation of souls to those who have them.

Each paradigm does nothing to enhance its own position by debasing the other and in fact damages its own credibility when it attempts to do so. To those whose religion comforts and encourages their difficult lives I say bravo. To those who fight through the prejudices of religious gobbledygook to provide us with practical solutions to our materialistic problems I offer my most enthusiastic appreciation. Those who yearn for scholasticism, a hopeful amalgamation of the two, such as Albert Magnus, inevitably suffer the consequences of being hoisted upon their own petard. david

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dave.sullivan August 14, 2012 at 3:01 pm

I much prefer Sam Harris’s insights into the irrationality of religious beliefs than any attempted scientific proof of a negative: Mr. Harris posits that a Presidential candidate espousing the full set of beliefs required of a devout – let’s say Mormon, for example – would render him an obvious lunatic and unworthy of the office EXCEPT when such beliefs were based on RELIGION, in which the acceptance of wildly illogical precepts is praised as a sign of faith.

My individual standard is that voting for a candidate who believes God speaks to him personally is just too risky … what if it isn’t really God speaking?

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