Wednesday, April 30, 2008


In yesterday's Engines of Our Ingenuity, Prof. John Lienhard discussed how building arguments on foregone conclusions is like building a house upon sand. And perhaps I'm about to engage in a similar pitfall but nonetheless his commentary captured my imagination.

He averred that a scientist must fight for the hypothesis as much as against it. A good scientist forms a theory and then works to disprove it. A poor scientist searches only for evidence to support the theory. My mind started reeling with thoughts about faith and the search for God and meaning.

In places of worship we spend a great deal of time forming arguments on a foregone conclusion, namely, that God exists. But if we are to evolve as a species, we need to spend as much energy and time disproving it and doing so intellligently, unlike Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, and the rest. If we are to be adults in this universe, we must learn to hold the tension of God and not God within us. That's what Thomas the Doubter is for, what Good Friday is for, and those times when we feel utterly abandoned. Time to stand on our own two feet, reach out to those around us, and walk. And think and feel and sort out our purpose, with fear and trembling all the same.

The commentary ended with this quote from Henry Adams: "Only on the edge of the grave, can man conclude anything." Only then will we know if all our groping and straining after God was worth it, was real. So let's make it as worth it, as real as possible, by reading and questioning and talking with others and helping those who need us and, as Parker Palmer once said, loving everyone in every possible way. We don't need a conclusion to do that, only that at least heaven doesn't have to wait until 'the edge of the grave'.

1 comment:

Andy said...

This seems to be the intellectual equivalent of expecting the worst of people and being pleasantly surprised when it doesn't happen. :-)