Science and God have always been at odds with each other. Is the world just science, or is there a God or some spiritual side to the world? I come from the scientific side and follow no specific religion, but I’ve come across a problem with my logical reasoning and want to see what others think.
So I have two questions that I first need to ask.
• Question 1: Do you believe in a purely logical universe?
Do you believe that the universe follows the laws of physics alone and is not subject to any external influence such as a God, spirituality, or magic? This may not be as simple a question as you may think, but it is key.
• Question 2: Do you have free will?
Now I don’t mean you control everything about your life, but within your own mind you make your decisions freely.
Ok, so what if you said no to Question 1. Well, then your mind is open to the vast complexities of the world and also to its unknown aspects. You may be religious, or if not, you have that capacity. You don’t need to watch further unless you are curious. All you scientifically minded people who said yes, carry on.
If you said yes to Question 1 and no to Question 2, then you may have a very negative outlook on life. Feeling like you have no control over anything in your life is not healthy or even true. Surely you choose what you have for breakfast every day?
Ok, so yes to both questions. You are who I really want to talk to, as I used to think like this too. Lets start by showing a little example to illustrate the first question.
So let’s picture our logical universe. Planets fly around each other obeying the laws of physics. Water flows in a predictable way, even though we can’t actually predict it precisely ourselves. Even people follow these physical constraints. We fall if we are dropped. We cry if we are hurt. And we fall in love, because of the chemicals in our brains and all the external influences we are bombarded with. Yes don’t forget, the world is logical. Therefore emotions are just the combination of physical events and whatever chemical and electrical activity is going on in our minds. The world is complicated, but logical.
So what if we had a machine that could record the universe in a split second? It takes a snapshot of every physical attribute in the universe when you press a button. Going with the perfectly logical world scenario, what would happen if we could replay that recorded moment? What would happen if we could take that recording of the moment in time and replace it over the universe, setting it back to exactly how it was when we took the recording? In the logical world it would play out again in exactly the same way as before, because we recorded every physical attribute perfectly.
A dice roll would always come out with the same number. A wave would crash against a rock in exactly the same way. You would have the same argument with your partner, and come to the same conclusions at the end. Everything is predictable in the logical world. Can you see where I’m going?
Ok, let’s look at the second question. Free choice. But hang on, haven’t we just described a universe that can only have one possible outcome? In the same way that if we put three apples in a bag, then you will only be able to take three apples out of the bag—it is just the only possible outcome! In fact from the moment the world came into existence, the future has already been defined, as everything from then on will just follow by the interaction of fixed physical rules.
So what is free choice? It’s the belief that we make a decision in our own mind. We make the judgment ourselves. It is not the work of others, or even a God. It is our reasoning. And if we didn’t think this, then we’d be going around thinking we weren’t in control of anything. But we know that we are—right? We don’t believe in something as limiting as destiny—a path that is already set out before us—a path that we cannot change.
So here’s the dilemma. One belief defines a single linear path to life, and the other believes that we have control of it, a control that isn’t just us reacting to chemicals in our brain. But we can’t believe both. So which belief do we throw out? The world that is fully logical, or the belief that you have some control of your life?
Do you really want to believe that you have no control of your future? No that’s just impossible. I know I make choices. I say the world isn’t fully logical and it is one linear path. But we, and the world, decide where this linear path goes. Physics isn’t totally in control. We have control too—we are not just physics. I say there is something that is, and always will be, intangible that influences our world.
It could be our emotions. It could be our souls. It could be a God. It could even be magic, but it’s there, and you just need to remind yourself that it is there. Remind yourself that you are not alone—there is something else out there. So you don’t need all the answers. Because you never get the answers to the really important questions. Why did they die? Why am I so in love with this person?
There is always something out there or inside us that is totally unpredictable and completely special. And you experience it every moment of your life. It is you and your emotions—everything that is wonderfully illogical about yourself.
So we could call this intangible thing God, but that’s not really important. That’s just semantics. So is God something outside of us, or part of us? Who knows—you don’t need the answer, but just like any good scientist, observe the results.