WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IN?
It is always a battle of wills between the religious wackos and those rational liberals. So many people question the ability of the religious people to believe, to have faith. So many people can’t fathom the reason why these religious people believe. They wonder how a person can ‘believe’ in something that cannot be seen, cannot be proved, cannot be touched.
This is a conflict that exists every day for the rational, non-religious, non-believers because they believe without even knowing that they believe. Part of the problem is a failure to understand what a belief is, a failure to grasp the need for the human spirit to believe. The need to believe is labelled many things like “taking something for granted”. A belief is exactly that, the ability to accept that something is there. The issue is the nature of what ‘something’ is.
For all of the rational, non-religious, non-believers a simple consideration of their beliefs may help shed some light on the problem, it is simply a matter of perspective. For just a moment, stop, calm down and take a deep breath, now exhale, feel better? Can you see what you inhaled? Can you see what you exhale? Can you see that air that surrounds you all of the time? Of course not, because, it is, well, there. It must be. How can these people not stress out every day that this breath will be the last? How can they be sure that the next breath will have oxygen instead of being pure nitrogen? They believe in the laws of physics.
As mentioned, believing in something is in the human nature because of the emotions that exist in humans that don’t exist in other animals. All creatures have fear which results in the ‘fight or flight’ response. All creatures have love but many animals have love to a greater degree than humans, consider the simple image of the dog taking a stand against a bigger aggressor to protect it's human. Regrettably, some humans will often place themselves ahead of others in moments of danger, why is the dog a better example of courage than some humans?
The emotional structure of the human creates stress, inadequacy, failure, all emotions that are unknown to animals. Dogs don’t have deadlines, they have feeding times and a fear of abandonment. Humans create complicated support structures to offset the stress created with the advanced knowledge and deductive capability. One of these support structures is the ability to believe in things that are relied upon but cannot be seen.
Here’s the thing, most of these rational people are not trained or educated in physics. Most of these people don’t know the laws of physics. Most of these people can’t even spell physics but they have placed their trust, their belief in the consistency of physics.
From the most basic science classes, most people remember the simple concepts of molecules and atoms and elements. Just a reminder, the world is comprised of elements mixed in various ways and in various states of matter (that means that some are solid, some are liquid and some are gas). Everything that we touch or feel is a combination of elements. You can take anything and run it through a machine (like one of machines they have in CSI) and it will tell you which elements make up the sample provided. By the way, if you are interested, the machine is known as a mass spectrometer.
Each element is made up of atoms. At one time there was a thought experiment where a man had a cube of butter and he cut it in half. Then he took one of the halves and cut it in half again. He was going to keep taking one of the halves and cutting until he reached the point where the next cut would result in something that was not butter. At the time, they assumed that this tiny piece of butter was an atom, the smallest form of anything that if cut again would no longer be butter.
Science has shown, of course, that butter is not one of the elements so you get to the point where the next cut will not be butter and still may not be the atoms because atoms combine together to form molecules. The most common, visible example of this is water and water is one of the chemical com-pounds that reacts to temperature and can be in either a solid state (ice), liquid state (running water) or gas state (steam). However, water is a molecule made up of atoms. To be exact, there are two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom in every molecule of water.
There are several conclusions that can be drawn from this discussion: humans have a need to believe in something or the stress of the possible consequences would be overwhelming, and take all of our thought process and time. The next conclusion is that as you look around yourself, you need to realize that EVERYTHING (caps means to take the meaning of the word literally) is made up of atoms, formed into molecules. This concept actually even applies to each person – we are all nothing but a bunch of atoms held together with atomic super-glue. Every moment of every day, each person has to believe that the atomic super-glue will hold, otherwise, your body parts would fly off in every direction.
Back to the concept of the air that you breathe, the laws of physics require that oxygen molecules bounce around, filling all of the available space with the distance between the atoms changing based on distance from the center of the Earth. Of course, the atmosphere is not just a pure oxygen mixture, it is a combination of all of the elemental gases, depending on the scarcity of the element. Nitrogen is a stable element that does not cause corrosion (like rust) and is the most plentiful element in the air. Nitrogen can be breathed without any problems.
An atmosphere of pure oxygen would be very dangerous because of the oxidizing nature of oxygen. When something burns, it is actually the item oxidizing and the speed and heat is limited by the amount of oxygen and the material burning. Most of the time, the oxidation is the reaction between oxygen and carbon, creating carbon dioxide, using up the breathable oxygen.
Needless to say, the density of the oxygen is dependent on the proximity to the center of the Earth because the atoms that make up the air are subject to the same gravity as everything else. This is why breathing becomes more difficult as you rise above sea level. As the air gets further from the center of the Earth, the space between the air atoms becomes bigger so there is less air to breathe and you can die unless you get the air in the volumes you need.
However, I never see these rational, non-believing people wearing an oxygen tank just in case there is a gap in the air or the mixture of nitrogen and oxygen isn't quite right. The reason is that these people take the concept of air and the laws of physics for granted, in other words, they believe the world will follow the laws of physics.
THE SUPREME BEING
The biggest question for the rational non-believers should be, if you believe in one thing, why can’t you believe in something bigger? Why is it that the only thing you can believe in are those things that provide the means for your existence and nothing else? This would seem to be back to the concept of the big picture versus the small picture.
How is it possible that someone can believe in the concept of a supreme being? How is it possible that someone can believe that something exists after death besides the idea of being planted in the ground? How is it possible that anyone can ignore the ‘truth’ of evolution?
As someone that believes in the likelihood of all of these things, the basis of this belief may not change your opinion but why can’t there be two opinions? As with most issues in politics, the same is true for religious attitudes, if you don’t have the same opinion I have then you are wrong.
As in most discussions, there are two possibilities, the believer is wrong or the rational person is wrong. Knowing that the rational person has an open mind, the question needs to be posed: “What difference does it make?” Exactly what are the problems with the religious person believing as he does?
Consider for a moment the outcome of the religious person following his beliefs. Assuming this person does not try to force his beliefs on others, his actions should provide an example of the belief he claims. Isn't society better off for having someone that lives up to the beliefs in a Supreme Being? Perhaps the issue is the need for these people to not have their entire belief system denigrated and destroyed.
Let’s consider for just moment that you are wrong, if so, then would society be a better place if you exhibited a belief in the Supreme Being? Yes, that is a scary perspective. Imagine, your keen intellect is wrong, all of your determined and objective conclusions are wrong. Now, don’t over react, this is just hypothetical possibility. Don't have a stress attack. Just being able to consider the possibility proves how open minded you are, and isn't that the trait of the greater intellect? Consider the possibility that there is a Supreme Being, that this Supreme Being created life on Earth and this Supreme Being will judge you in the hereafter, based on your activity in this life. If you believed in this possibility, what would change in the way you live your life? Would you be a better person? Would you be more caring or forgiving? Exactly what is wrong that.
Of course, as with all things, there is a flip side. Is it possible that most people are born with an inherent understanding of good versus evil? Perhaps there is not a belief in good and evil based on a Supreme Being, perhaps the desire to do what is right is just an instinct. But then, we need to consider what would cause someone to change their instincts? What would cause someone to do something they know to be wrong? All actions are the result of a decision as to the greater value, a choice was made. Perhaps we should consider that any crime is the result of a predefined choice and the criminal knew what he was doing, the choice had been rationalized long ago.
Are you an honest, upstanding, ethical person? Do you steal from others? Do you kill those around you or are you abusive, hurting just to inflict pain and suffering? Here is the hard part – WHY? Oh sure, there are laws but someone that is unconcerned with the consequences, why follow the laws that apply to everyone else? Isn't this a reflection of the God given rights expressed in the Declaration of Independence? The positive traits that govern our lives are a reflection of a belief in the immortality of the human spirit and the judgement of the Supreme Being.
Why do the non-believers work so hard for the benefit of themselves? If there is nothing after life, shouldn't every possible moment be spent in the enjoyment of the human condition? Work becomes the means to an end, need money to pay for this lifestyle. But so often, the non-believers take life very seriously, trying to prove that there is something beyond the end of life, will you live forever? No one has to date so why do you consider yourself the exception?
Of course, along the same lines, why do non-believers have a need to destroy the beliefs of others, are these beliefs impacting their lives? If a believer keeps their opinions to themselves and practices their belief behind closed doors, can’t the non-believers just walk past the closed door without beating it down, wanting to know what is happening in the privacy? Are the traits practiced by the believers in their daily lives, their interactions with others, creating harm to the non-believers?
On the flip side, let’s consider the possibility that anyone that believes is wrong. Now consider, what is the damage that impacts society if someone continues to believe? There is the possibility for damage if the believer takes the belief to an extreme but what if they don’t force their beliefs on others? What if they practice their belief in silence, keeping their beliefs only in their hearts and behind closed doors? Is there any damage?
Is there a possibility for good if the believers simply live their lives in a manner that supports their beliefs and the belief that their lives contribute to the hereafter? Would anyone, that believes in the hereafter, spend their time in the pursuit of evil or would they try to live in a manner that reflects their beliefs? That seems to be the issue, if you want to invest in the hereafter, whether you believe in it or not, or just want to make an investment to ‘cover your bases’, what is the damage to society? Can you imagine a world where everyone takes care of everyone else, because each act of kindness counts as points the hereafter? Over time, it won’t matter that it counts for points because the act becomes its own reward.
So this seems to be the final conclusion, whether you want to believe or not, simply pretending can provide the same benefits as actually believing. As they say, live and let live.
So let’s consider the question of why someone would believe.
THE WORLD PROVIDES ITS OWN PROOF
Look around yourself and admit that the world you see today is the result of evolution, there is no doubt about this concept. Evolution can provide a vast myriad of changes in the plants and animals that surround us. Of this there is no doubt because man has been able to step in and create their own variations on the plants and animals.
Here is one simple example. Next time you go into a grocery store, wander over to the fresh produce section of the store and look closely at broccoli. Notice the structure of the plant. Now look at the cauliflower, would you believe that these two plants come from the same plant line, in fact, if you study it, lots and lots of plants are all related to broccoli and are derivatives of cabbage, thanks to the manipulation of man. Yes, even those cute little Brussels Sprouts are part of the same process. Different people in different areas of the world took cabbage and, by highlighting the desired traits, created their own edible version of cabbage.
Evolution is nothing more than the development of desired traits or needed traits in plants and animals, in an attempt to insure the continuation of the species. Every species has only one long term goal, survive and expand. It is almost as if the plants abide by God’s law to propagate the Earth, adapt to the environment, change as needed to survive and grow.
Evolution can contribute to changes and enhancements over time but evolution can’t explain the first of anything. The question has been asked, which came first – the chicken or the egg? This is the eternal question defining a Supreme Being. Here is a simple fact, man can take living tissue from various sources and mix and match and sometimes come up with something, but man cannot create the first life.
The theory is simple, after the Big Bang caused the formation of the universe, the galaxy, the solar system, the sun and the Earth, the world was nothing more than elements and combinations of these elements to form the Earth’s crust and water, oxygen, nitrogen, etc. Every non-organic component of the Earth is a combination of various elements, rocks, water and air. At the same time, we see this process with every volcano eruption and the flow of lava, isn't lava the personification of the Earth forming the crust? Then, according the scientists, these elements with all of the heat and turbulence, formed a Primordial Soup. Basically, put all of the elements into a pot and stew it all together with lots of stirring to form the basic building blocks of life. Then presto, the first life was created and luckily, the conditions were right to provide the means for life to survive.
The alternate theory is that the Earth’s vents on the ocean floor somehow used the energy of the Earth to create the life. Yes, both of these concepts are very complex and much more involved than what is presented here so, no, the complexity is not presented. However, no form of life today can survive with only direct energy of sunlight or heat from thermal vents. Every form of life requires that certain organic compounds be consumed to support life. From this simple start, the entire Earth was covered with life.
There is only one small problem…