Saturday, January 22, 2005

postal scrotum: cosmic thoughts

A buddy writes in...


I have had a thought poking about in my head for some time, but lack the time, energy, and focus to flesh it out. I shall pass it on to you in its most general state.

Regarding scientific truth and the existence of god/religious truth.

We have two, apparently conflicting, sets of information. Empirical information (or scientific) is from rationally developed methodology, applied to observable and measurable tests, and extended into the unproven by speculative hypothesis. The assumption of such exploration is that there exists a fundamental physical reality which may very well be too dynamic and too massive for human civilisation to ever fully comprehend. I personally accept that this is a given, within certain restrictions.

Specifically, physical reality and scientific proofs cannot determine causes, events, or interactions that exist beyond the parameters in time and space of the physical universe- by definition. This is because scientific methodology cannot, by definition, be applied to these. Examples would include: what exists/happens when you get beyond the physical dimensions of the universe? If the big bang theory is correct, then all matter and energ that exist have been radiating outwards for billions of years, but there exists a point beyond which they have not yet reached. All physical laws depend upon observation of matter and energy interactions between such that have been created by and since the big bang. (Or, if the Big Bang theory is correct, since whatever the universal origin was.)

This also opens the question of what came before the beginning, especially since it appears that time and three-dimensional space are coexistent effects. They cannot be defined in any meaningful way without the other. That means that observable time may well have started at the moment of the universal origin, whatever that was. This does not mean that nothing exists beyond or before- simply that empirical measurements do not apply in determining what that is.

On the other hand- we have an overabundance of religious origins and 'truth' which often conflict with each other and with scientific observation. Again, the ultimate truth of the matter may be beyond the capacity of humankind to observe or comprehend. What we have then is, at best, fragmented images of two fundamental truth systems. I propose that both must be true, but that we do not grasp either. The implications of such a statement are manifold:

1. The factors outside of the scope of the physical fundamental truth may well be covered in the spiritual truth.
2. If there are factors outside of the realm of the spiritual truth, they may well be covered by the physical truth.
3. At points where the physical and spiritual truth appear to come into conflict, there is a failure by the perceptive component (human) to properly understand one, the other, or both. In actuality, the two fundamental truths will never be in direct conflict, though that may be out of scope.

Case in point- scientific truth indicates that there was life on earth 600 million years ago, and mankind existed as modern man (homo sapiens sapiens) for at least 130 thousand years. A particular religion teaches (via counting years back though the holy books) that mankind was created 4040 years before the crucifixion of Jesus. Notice the difference. By my proposal, one or the other would be false, arising from a failed understanding of one or the other. Given the amount of measurable proof for the age of mankind, I would say that the process used to determine the age of man used by the religious time line arose from a failed understanding of said script. (This is actually a very simple matter to address in this case. The religious texts in question are considered highly metaphorical by the original peoples who created them. Forty days, for example, being a phrase meaning 'one damned long time' rather than an actual 40-day period. Literal interpretation would have been considered absurd by the originating peoples. The problem arises in the adoption of the original texts by a younger religion and the accidental inclusion of them as literal truth.)

Though the framework for comparison is too loose to be truly useful, the theory is that religious and scientific exploration could be used to help prove each other, and therefore be used as one form of cross-checking when determining some portions of fundamental truth. Such portions being limited, by necessity, to those areas where the scope of religious and scientific truth overlap.

I should note that I am NOT a scholar. I read lots of things and rarely remember, over time, the sources. It is therefore possible, even likely, that there is not an original thought in this entire discourse, but possible as well that at least the underlying elements have been arranged in a new and unexpected fashion. I hope you find it entertaining.




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