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February 20, 2011

Christianity — the religion of human (II)

Filed under: The World in Fei's Eyes — Fei @ 1:46 am

At first sight, Christians have a hard time, because science is widely accepted in the world today, as scientific experiments have been tested. However, whatever God says are not tested as often.

We need to go back to the scientific method of “repetition”. This method applies better in natural sciences, and is less successful in social sciences. When we take a second look at the Bible, it is not obvious to me that God said much about natural sciences. It is understandable because the Bible was written thousands of years ago. The Bible is like a history book describing the stories or legends at that time. As we discussed before, we cannot “repeat” history. We never know what exactly happened at that time. Each party can find supporting evidence and hard-to-explain phenomena. 

Here I give you an example. On September 11, 2001, four commercial planes were hijacked and flown into landmarks, causing severe damages. It was well recorded in American history. After the attack, FBI, CIA, and homeland security operated full time to look for the terrorists. They found Bin Laden. However, mysteries of the attack were never resolved. Some people suspected that the twin towers collapsed not because of the two hijacked planes but because they were secretly demolished after the attack, perhaps for the benefit of insurance. The wreckage of UA-93, which hit west Pennsylvania, was never found. Only a big hole was found in that area. People could not find a lot of plane wreckage from the plane that hit Pentagon, and some people questioned the official announcement of the Pentagon attack. Thus, some conspiracy theories were spread among people, claiming the attacks were plotted by the US government. Which one do you believe? Each side has its own evidence. As an observer, you may believe in the US government, or the conspiracy theories. No matter what you believe, you may be biased by your own preference. You tend to choose to believe the facts that support your assumptions, and ignore the counter evidence. The 9.11 event happened less than ten years ago. If we still cannot tell exactly what happened with all the advanced recording devices we use in the 21st century, how can we be certain what happened thousands of years ago, which were only based on incomplete documents? 

You choose what you believe based on your basic assumptions. Christians would believe everything in the Bible. Atheists would only believe some history stories in the Bible, if they are supported by documents and can be reasonably explained in science. Other stories are treated as exaggerations, or imaginations.

February 8, 2011

Christianity — the religion of human (I)

Filed under: The World in Fei's Eyes — Fei @ 11:05 pm

Here I use the word “Christianity”, but it has a broader meaning than what we usually talk about in life. I will mostly focus on the existence of God (Theism) and the Old Testament. Only in the end will I mention a bit of the New Testament and Jesus. In this sense, the major part of this article can also be applied to other religions, such as Judaism[1]  and Islam, which believe in the Old Testament as well. 

I have encountered many Christians in my life. They consider the Bible as the uttermost truth in life. They place their life in the hands of God and let God make decisions for them. Whenever they encounter an obstacle, they wonder why God has chosen this way for them. Whenever they receive unexpected luck/fortune, they give credit to God. They try to find a way out between science and the Bible. If there is a potential conflict, they would doubtlessly choose the Bible and question science. 

Many atheists don’t like the life Christians have chosen. In part, Christians seem to give up part of their lives to the God. Their reasoning seems unscientific. More importantly, some Christians would argue on issues that science has already drawn reasonable conclusions. 

Christians, on the other hand, are worried for the atheists because atheists have cut their connections from God. Christians often argue that a true atheist should analyze all religions in the world and conclude that all Gods are fake and thus God does not exist (here they actually mean nontheism). However, most atheists do not even make an attempt to understand different religions and draw their conclusions based on ignorance.

I totally understand the opinions of the two parties. They make different assumptions on the world. Of course their conclusions are different. Atheists believe in science. Christians believe in God. Their conflict intensifies when science draws one conclusion and God says otherwise. But can we find a middle way that science and God can be together peacefully?

 

[1] At the time of writing, I didn’t know much about Judaism. Now (07/08/2011) I realize that some of my assumptions were not correct. For example, Judaism doesn’t have the notion of Heaven or Hell. It only advocates that when the Savior come, all dead will come back to life. However, it doesn’t mention what happened to those people after they die and before the Savior come. It also does not mention what happened after those people come back to life (live happily ever after?). This, in some sense confirmed my belief. See “Where are we” for details.

February 3, 2011

Atheism — the religion of science (III)

Filed under: The World in Fei's Eyes — Fei @ 11:46 pm

As I mentioned above, the scientific method has its limitations. It does not (and can not) reveal the secrets of the entire universe. It is only a subset (or a small subset) of all secrets that all human agree on. Science evolves over time, the theory seemly perfect now may be overthrown by a better, more seamless theory in the future. The question is, are we willing to believe in something that seems weird right now because the current science does not support it?

For example, in the middle ages, all scientific theories drew the conclusion that the earth was the center of the universe. Sun, moon, mars, and stars all circled around the earth. It was the science back then. Do you think a person at that time unscientific and believed wrong because he believed otherwise: the earth was not the center of universe? If we look back from now, we may probably say no. Because we well know that earth is not the center2. The science at that time was wrong and that person assumed correct. If, one day, God will fit in the scientific models, will the people at that time consider all the people now believing in God unscientific and believed wrong? It is a tough question… at least for people now…

I don’t know whether God will fit in the scientific models eventually. But even if it will not, can people still claim them believe wrong? After all, science only reveal a small portion of the secretes. God may well influence the world. But maybe the interaction time is too short; maybe the target is human, the observer; maybe the interaction pattern is too irregular, scientific method cannot derive useful results. It is in a gray area, and thus need belief.

To me, the scientific world is all inside a nutshell. The shell itself is composed of numerous assumptions. Science does not say anything outside the shell. But because of the Occam’s razor, the easiest assumption is that it is outside the range of science and has no effect on our world (inside the nutshell). But is it true? Nobody knows.

It still goes back to belief. After all, atheism is a religion. It is a religion of science — the current science.

2Based on current cosmology, an interpretation is that earth is not  the center of the universe. However, it is still the center of our universe: the universe that influence us (and the universe we care about). It does not mean science goes back to mid ages, but to mean yet another improvement in science.

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