Friday, August 06, 2010

Whither a creator?

On the Science Channel program, Through the Wormhole, host Morgan Freeman asked, is there a creator of the universe?

I'm not religious, but I'm not a scientist, either. I'm a layman with curiosity and a capacity to listen and form opinions. Since it's a science program, religious people who are strictly faith-based weren't polled on their opinions of God. One scientist said he thought God was in our brains, that in the right side of our brain we could stimulate those feelings of that "something" that people perceive as God. Another scientist said he saw God as being a future human, someone who is descended from us, who has created us as simulations on a future super computer.

Manipulating the brain to produce a God-euphoria seems reasonable; the future humans using super computers with us as sims seems like a science fiction hypothesis. It sounds like those "cosmic" beer and wine-inspired discussions my buddies and I had in our early twenties. Everyone at some point has wondered if they're real; everyone has wondered if anyone else but them is real. Maybe I'm the only real living human and everyone else is a simulation! I try to chase thoughts like that out of my head.

Years ago I heard two older gentlemen arguing about some mysteries of God. One man asked if God has a mother; the other man railed at him for asking such a thing, claiming it's a mystery the answer to which human beings will never be privy. My feeling on hearing the two men argue was to think, "If the God you believe in gives a person the mental capacity and intellectual curiosity to ask such a question, isn't that a sign that it is not after all a mystery that God would never allow to be solved?" As scientists delve ever more deeply into what makes us living, sentient creatures, uncovering secrets in our cells, they are finding things about our humanity which at one time were strictly heresy. During the Inquisition such a quest for knowledge would have earned the scientists a place on the rack. Ideas of God change over time; ideas of our relationship to God and religion change over time.

I'm not too interested in a question like does God have a mom. If I were to get in a meditative mood I might ask these questions:
With billions of stars and planets and universes, is Earth the only place in any universe with intelligent life? Is it a special place like a creator's laboratory, where species are tried out?

If there is a creator who created us, and there are other planets with intelligent life, did the same creator create them? Did that creator set them on an evolutionary path the same way he did on earth, and did that other life turn out like us, or something wholly different with similar DNA?

Is that creator someone who just set everything in motion, or the personalized God of religion; the omnipotent being who knows when a sparrow falls, or just a being who sits back and watches what happens without interfering?
I don't look to theologians for answers to science questions, just as I don't look to scientists for spiritual advice. I know enough about the human mind to know that everyone has a slightly different take on God, even when they say they believe in the same God as their neighbors. I know how intricate are the ways of belief in the human mind. Look how many religions there are in the world! What is it that makes yours special to you, as special as the religious folks on another continent who have a completely different idea of God (or gods)?

Why do you believe what you do, and why do people have faith in their own beliefs? There are a lot of mysteries out there. I just wonder if there are solutions to those mysteries, or if they will forever remain beyond our intellectual grasp. I don't know if there is a creator. I don't know if Earth is the only planet with life in all those universes. I don't know why we're here and what our purpose is, or if we even have a purpose beyond perpetuating our species. I don't know if we survive in another form after we die.

Most likely I won't know the answers to any of these mysteries. The questions are too hard. Yes, there are folks who say they have the answers, but I don't trust their opinions, any more than I would expect them to trust mine. Whether the universe sprang into being on its own, or whether it was created, it's all just one big puzzle to me. It will be until someone puts the truth in front of me and I, using the brain a creator may or may not have given me, recognize it as such.

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