Sunday, 13 November 2011

Reweaving the rainbow

The joy of science is marred by the denial of the divine.

 There is a philosophy held by many scientists, and it seems most science journalists, that all human beings are walking bags of chemicals that have somehow fallen out of a meaningless universe like a crystal of copper sulphate precipitating from solution. 

This is the message of philosophical materialism...

Poetry is nothing but a social construct. Even consciousness is a mere evolutionary accident, as is the fact that we enjoy writing and reading poetry. Likewise stories, drama, art, music, science, philosophy, mathematics, architecture, technology, craftsmanship. We way enjoy them and find them useful; but they have no intrinsic significance. Even good and evil, right and wrong are mere inventions of human beings and as for the universe - it created itself or is eternal. And free will, too, is just an illusion.

So what is a rainbow? ‘Nothing but’ drops of water suspended in the air refracting light of different colours into our eyes. What are the colours? ‘Nothing but’ different wavelengths of electromagnetic waves interacting with our neurons to generate the sensation of colour.

And how did the phenomenon of the rainbow and its interaction with conscious beings ultimately come to be  at this stage of cosmic evolution? Blind chance and the laws of physics. And where did the laws of physics come from? Er....

Apart from the irrationality of believing so much order and  meaning can be generated by chance, coming from a chain of events starting ultimately from a point in space-time over thirteen billion years ago, such a worldview robs us of all wonder and awe by side stepping a host of largely unanswerable questions.

Why at this moment do I experience the beauty of the rainbow?
And the universe from which the rainbow emerges. Why was that created?
What does it all mean? Where are we heading?
Why did our Creator give us life and hold us in being with love?
Why has the Creator given us the power to invent machines, to simulate the world through software and hardware?
Why do we increasingly seek to help the poor, the sick and the hungry?
Why do we regard all humans as spiritually equal?
Why has the Creator given us the potential to improve ourselves biologically?
Why does the Creator permit evil?
Why does the Creator give us the freedom to choose between good and evil?
Why is life sacred?
What is love?
Why can the loss of one life be as important as the loss of a million lives?
Why do we search for truth? What is truth?
Why do some sacrifice their lives, even for strangers?  Why do we experience beauty? What is justice?  What is sin? What is redemption?
Why is there eternal life? What form does it take?
Why do all forms of life have the will to survive?

All these questions can be avoided simply by postulating that there is no God, or at least no transcendent source of being. In the process we become smug, proud, without hope, without direction, with no desire to explore or make progress, with no moral compass.

 And mind numbingly boring. The only remaining mystery is how the material world works. Beyond that there are no questions to ask, no elements of a greater reality to wonder at and no real reason to even explore the mysteries of the material world. All is pointless.

The rainbow is indeed drops of water and interactions of light with neurons. But to the believer in the divine it is much more than this, since it brings to mind questions. Questions like the ones above. 

So those who seek to unweave the rainbow may wish to reconsider their position.
Author, 2077 AD