by A L Katz
People, as we all know, can be made to believe almost anything. Hell, France still believes Jerry Lewis was a comic genius.
I’ve always been grateful to Hebrew School (8 years of it) for making me the atheist I am today though, to be fair, I walked in the door a biological skeptic. When I hear something new, my first inclination is to question it. Belief in a thing is a rigorous, muster-passing process. Very few things make it all the way to the other end and come out with me believing them.
Just going by the word — an “atheist” (“a” meaning “no”, “theist” meaning believes there’s a god) an atheist is someone who believes there’s no god. That same atheist — count on this — feels the same way about little green men from Mars, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. But give that atheist a little proof that green men exist and the atheist will go from “non-believer” to “believer” in a heartbeat — as they should.
Atheists aren’t unreasonable, they’re the opposite. Reason tells them there’s simply no proof that an intelligent being created the universe and everything in it.
When people say they “believe in science”, what they mean is they believe in science’s “method”. Testing — very important. Repeatable results — those are important too. Believers in science’s method understand that as we learn more about how things work, we sometimes learn that we’ve misunderstood them. New information — or a new way of looking at something — can force us to see something in a completely different way. And believers in science’s method have to be willing to go where the newest data takes them.
Atheists have to be willing to accept that it’s possible that an intelligent “being” exists (calling it a god seems a little anthropomorphic — like we’re trying to put a happy face on a primal cosmic force that might transcend what we think of as “being” a “being”). We may (somehow) figure out how to look inside a black hole all the way through to its singularity — or beyond it even. We may discover the face of God staring back at us — whatever it is. Since we really can’t say for sure what’s on the other side of a singularity — for all we know, per string theory, they could lead to other dimensions or “branes” (the undulating space-time fabric on which multiple universes might sit). Or they could lead to God.
Sometimes, atheists and people of faith use different words to refer to very similar things. There’s one we know for sure we’d find waiting for us at the end of a black hole: information. We’d find an answer. Probably an answer that leads to a lot more questions but… an answer.
That deep knowledge about how the cosmos really functions — to know that would be like a devout person of faith staring into their creator’s face. The awe, I bet, would be the same.
Imagine knowing what you thought was unknowable.
Sounds downright transcendent.