A new, hard-hitting book from an NPR correspondent takes an unflinching look at the question of whether science can prove the existence of god:
What did you find? Is religion all a sham?
The conclusion I came to looking at all of this is that it’s okay to believe and it’s okay not to believe. The science is pretty agnostic about the issue. You can look, for instance, at evidence researchers at Johns Hopkins University have found about serotonin receptors sparking mystical experiences and say that it’s all brain chemistry. Or you can look at that and say that it’s amazing that we are so intricately wired that we have a serotonin receptor that allows us to connect with the divine. It really is a matter of belief.
In other words, science explains the “divine” phenomenon in question, but the “amazing” fact that science explains it possibly is evidence for the “divine.”
Not only is this a peculiar definition of “agnostic,” pretty much every scientific “explanation” can be explained away in this manner:
- Maybe evolutionary biology explains how we evolved from apes, but you could look at that and say it’s “amazing” that evolution managed to produce us. It really is a matter of belief.
- Yes, astrophysics explains how solar systems form, but you could look at that and say it’s “amazing” that astrophysics managed to form our solar system. It really is a matter of belief.
- Sure, phrenology explains people’s personalities based on bumps on their heads, but you could look at that and say it’s “amazing” that their head bumps managed to reflect their personalities. It really is a matter of belief.
I suspect I would have been more successful as a scientist if I’d understood these sorts of tricks. (And also if I’d somehow managed not to break thousands of dollars worth of glassware every semester.) In any case, I look forward to applying them in online debates and in arguments with my creditors.