Thursday, January 15, 2009

We're Either Retards or Geniuses

You guys oughta read this article. It pissed me off so much that I'm postponing working on my new short story to come out of my blogging recession (pun intended). The article states that, based on a psychological study, our brains are hardwired to find conflict between God and science. Not only are the sampling of tests conducted to determine this biased, but apparently those of us who have no quarrel with science and God are idiots.

"'We can only believe in one explanation at a time,' she told LiveScience. So although people can report explicitly, "Look, I’ve been a Christian all my life, and yes, I also believe in science and I am a practicing chemist," the question is, are these people really reconciling belief in God and science, or are they just believing in one thing at a time?'

When it comes to the ultimate questions, it's really just one thing at a time, Preston says.
People rarely think about these problems, however, so most people live their lives without paying much attention to how the universe started or how life began, Preston said."

See? Those of us who understand that science explains the physical, tangible world, and that religions address the intangible and the spiritual are really just retards who don't think about these things long enough.

Perhaps I found this claim particularly insulting because I'm working on a novel for my thesis that specifically addresses many of the "big questions" through metaphor and, well, through some not-so-subtle means. And my ideas are pretty wacked. Others have addressed these issues far better than I -- isn't that all of art and human expression when it comes down to it? King Lear, Lord of the Rings, Moby Dick, even Tuck Everlasting. Oh, and a few little poems like The Iliad and Beowulf. But I guess we're wrong. Whatever it is in us as hominids that made us decide to ceremonially bury our dead all those millions of years (and species) ago apparently turned us into perpetually-conflicted morons. Never mind what that could say about the current state of the world.

But don't get me wrong -- I'm not a very good example for this study. I don't believe in God. I'm not a Christian and do not belong to any organized faith. I was raised by scientists who never pressured any of their children to go to church (despite my father being a Christian) or choose a belief system. Though I suspect repeatedly being told I was going to Hell by my classmates from Kindergarten-high school made me somewhat biased against the Christian death-cult.

I do believe, however, that there is something essential to life that sets a life apart from the purely physical. A spirit, a soul, an energy -- these are all ways we describe the divine in us that innately understands the world. Most people choose religious explanations over scientific ones because they are simplistic and emotionally-satisfying (no, unlike the article, I'm not attempting to call a group of people stupid -- just in need of comfort). That's fine. That's one side of the coin. The other side of the coin is the scientific explanation.

And no, science does not "know everything." In fact, science is incredibly dynamic, and every fact or claim purported by science is preceded by the unspoken statement of "based on what we know, ____ is a fact." The problem is, most people who have a bone to pick with science either don't seem to understand the fact that it's a constantly-changing, evolving, refining body of knowledge, or are so ignorantly blind to this because of the emotional ties to their religious belief system that they don't care.

And emotional ties can be much stronger than tangible evidence. Those motherfuckers in Iraq and other Middle Eastern nations, going on jihads and blowing themselves up for the sake of their religious beliefs, murdering countless others, are prime examples. Sorry -- I have very little capacity to try to understand or tolerate such an extreme perversion of any belief system.

The opposite side of the spectrum is to read the article with F. Scott Fitzgerald in mind. "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function." So in that sense... those of us with a dual mind are frickin' geniuses.

Though there's another helpful quote by the same writer:

"Either you think, or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize and sterilize you."

I'm still angry, so I need to go listen to my favorite Bob Marley song to calm down before I write again. Check it out:

No Woman No Cry

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