Wednesday, February 08, 2017

WHAT IF YOU HAD AN AUDIENCE?

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?


Twice in the last month I've been asked to speak to this group--the Unitarian Universalist of Yuma, Az--a terrific honor because these are the best and brightest minds of Yuma.  If you doubt it, consider the quality of these Unitarians from history: 
Isiac Newton
Thomas Jefferson
John Adams 
John Quincy Adams
William Howard Taft 
Louisa May Alcott
Susan B Anthony
Buckminster Fuller
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Charles Dickins
Albert Schweitzer
Herman Melville
Daniel Webster
Joseph Priestly
Pete Seeger
Rod Serling
Paul Newman

So what could the Mobile Kodger possibly offer to this brainy group?

I ASKED THEM AN HONEST QUESTION:
(An honest question is one that you honestly would like an answer to)

WOULD OUR LIVES BE RICHER WITHOUT  RELIGION?

About 6 of the 7 billion people on earth hold some sort of  religious belief in their head.
(Religious beliefs---all of them--are theories and guesses about the WHY of life)
(Science, by contrast, is concerned with explaining the HOW of life)
Science has done the better job--so far, providing us with evidence-based explanations of how we came to be

HERE , IN SUMMARY IS WHAT SCIENCE HAS REVEALED ABOUT OUR ORIGIN:
1.Beginning with a big bang (that's as far back as we can go) pure energy condensed into matter.
2. Matter aggragated itself into giant balls with such huge pressures inside that fusion took place.
3. Fusion releases  energy contained in matter,lighting up stars by the billions
4. Fusion also complexifies matter from simple to more complex: from simple hydrogen to helium; from helium to lithium, from lithium to beryllium----to boron--to carbon--nitrogen--oxygen and so on up the list of elements. (but interestingly no further than iron--which does not fuse inside a star)
(all heavier elements require the force of an exploding star)
5. When stars explode they thrust their accumulated, more complex matter, out into huge clouds.
6. The clouds eventually becomes a large spiraling disc with spherical lumps of this enriched matter
circling a larger lump in the middle---which lights up as a second generation star--blowing away the cloud--leaving planets circling it--creating a solar system.
7.Just the right mix of elements in just the right circumstance on just the right distanced planet caused life to spring into being.
8. Life evolved, in time, to become ever more intricate and humans appeared.

THIS IS THE CURRENT STATE OF OUR KNOWLEDGE.  We do not know the WHY of our existence.
BUT OUR BIG BRAIN HUNGERS FOR A WHY.

SO PEOPLE SPECULATE--AND THEORIZE---AND PROCLAIM--AND PROPHECY--CREATING GREAT BODIES OF BELIEF---WHICH OFTEN CLASH WITH ONE ANOTHER.

SO MY QUESTION TO THIS BRIGHT AUDIENCE WAS WHETHER WE WOULD, INDIVIDUALLY AND COLLECTIVELY, BE BETTER OFF WITHOUT THE BELIEF SYSTEMS--MERELY STICKING WITH THE HOW?

IS THE HOW -THE SCIENCE STORY THAT WE HAVE EVIDENCE FOR--IS IT  WONDEROUS ENOUGH,  INSPIRING ENOUGH--AND SOLID ENOUGH TO 0BUILD OUR PERSONAL LIVES, OUR ETHICAL SYSTEMS AND OUR NATIONS  UPON?

I threw the question to the audience.  Their response: I estimate about 50/50 YES AND NO.

(My personal recommendation is to build our theories on top of  the science story: speculate away, theorize away--build great movements if you will---BUT BE HUMBLE ENOUGH TO ADMIT THAT YOU ARE SPECULATING AND THEORIZING.   AND FOR (GOD'S) SAKE KEEP TWEAKING YOUR THEORIES AS NEW FACTS ROLL IN.

Believing that you have certainty or access to certainty will eventually turn you into a cruel jerk.

When I get a chance I will summarize my second speech.






13 comments:

Rob said...

Religion was faith & science tried to be observation, measures, theories & experiments.
Better lives without religion? The human mind has too much imagination to not have "religion" .
It's a some like oranges & others like apples question, no "correct" answer but a lot of fun can be had arguing about it.

It's good to see you posting!

Anonymous said...

Love that conclusion,......."
Believing that you have certainty or access to certainty will eventually turn you into a cruel jerk.".....Knocked that one out of the park!
I wish I could tattoo that on my forehead with ink that would only be visible when reflected in a mirror.

Gloria Brooks said...

How interesting, though, that 50/50 of that Unitarian congregation believes the world could be richer without religion. I think it's a healthy ratio for that church, as the fundamentalist type church, I believe, would be more like 10% without and 90% keeping religion.

Linda Duncan said...

Hi Randy! I don't know the answer. I was raised to go to church and believe the Bible, etc, etc. But, I just have too many doubts and questions to adhere to the teachings of my youth. I just try to be a good person, and treat people as I would like to be treated. I find you to be a fascinating person! I hope to meet you some day. Linda in Ky.

Silver Andrew said...

Randy, just curious - did you mean "keep TWEAKING your theories as new facts roll in" or did you mean TWEETING... ;)

Randy said...

Thanks all for your thoughtful comments.
Silver: I meant tweaking---which I take to mean incrementally improve with small adjustments.

Randy said...

Gloria: I think i would be surprised if any fundamentalist thought the world would be better off without religion.

VtChris said...

Ricky Gervais, an agnostic atheist, said in response to a question by Catholic Stephen Colbert...(I am paraphrasing)...If all the world's religions and all the world's accumulated scientific knowledge vanished in a flash and humankind had to start over, the religions that were built would be totally different, but the science would be the same. Stephen looked stunned and said "Good one!".

kaBLOOnie boonster said...

I agree with your compliments to the Unitarians.

But should you have said, "Believing that you have certainty or access to certainty MAY PERHAPS eventually turn you into a cruel jerk?"

Kidding aside, I wonder what the historical legacy of the Deists and Unitarians was. They spent a century turning religion into decaffeinated coffee. Didn't that inevitably give rise to emotional reactions for the next generations: romanticism, American-style Bible literalism and fundamentalism, western New York state "Latter Day" theologies, and Yankee-ish rabid abolitionism?

Anonymous said...

The important question is, where did the energy come from? Science has accomplished amazing things, but is can only go as far as the limits of the human mind, and is tainted like every other human institution by greed, hidden agendas, and bias. Best not to elevate it to "religion" status, but instead appreciate and enjoy what it has accomplished for our benefit. A creator can't be proven by the scientific method, just as evolution can't. They both require faith. As an ex-atheist, I prefer not to limit myself to what I can experience and observe with my senses. I'm open to the idea that there is more than just our physical world, maybe someday I'll find out what it is. Love your blog btw :)

Randy said...

Anonymous: Can you live with the fact that we do not know where the origional energy came from----without making up a host of religions to "explain" things? For my part, I will learn to live with that mystery.

VTCHRIS: Thanks for that wonderful quip from Ricky Gervais. Wow, what a telling argument against the foolishnesses of religion.

Kabloonie: You're right, not all believers are jerks---many try to be nice people----but so often their beliefs are made into public policy and laws that persecute the rest of us. For example, their war against women's reproductive rights, their war against evolution being taught in science classrooms and their war against gay rights.

Your comments on Deism has given me something to think about.

Carl said...

I most closely identify as being agnostic so my frame of reference leans toward the world being better without religion. But my recent discovery of Jordan B Peterson's 'Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief' has had a profound impact on how I view religion and man's role in the 'why'. I could never summarize here the masterpiece he's produced but he's spent 40 years down that path and I believe he has the closest answer to that question of anyone. Highly recommended reading and his videos on Youtube are not to be missed.

Randy said...

Thank you Carl---will check it out. Hope my readers will too.