It seems that the world of thought is divided into a few basic groups. It is the spectrum between these groups that give so much variety. Two big groups are, secular and religious. As I understand it secularism is a way of looking at the world in the absence of religion and is associated with: logic, reason, science and the scientific method. Religion is concerned with looking at the world through the lens of belief, faith and hope in unseen and supernatural things.
Within the gap of these two opposing views there is a wide spectrum for people to place an opinion. There is also plenty of room for confusion, misunderstanding and disagreement. Trying to see the world not only from your speck on the spectrum, but also trying to understand other points on the spectrum will help a person understand their world, and the events around them a little better. To improve my understanding is one of the reasons I started this blog.
Even with the many many differences in religion, it is understood fairly well. As Wikipedia states; “A religion is a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a supernatural agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.” While this definition comes across as a bit stuffy it seems to me a fairly accurate, general description of religion. While there are many strengths and weaknesses to religion that is not what this post is about.
The secular world tends to be viewed as based on real, tangible and rational things. Science, logic and reason rule the day. While there are many strengths here, there are also weaknesses that I don’t think get as much attention as the weaknesses of religion. Not being aware of these drawbacks is at least as harmful and damaging as an unawareness of religious shortcomings.
One drawback to putting your trust in logic and science is that a person must make a leap of faith similar to putting your trust in a supernatural being, and most people do not realize it. That is quite a statement. What do I mean by that? Lets take a look at science. Back in the day science said, the earth was flat, the earth was at the center of the universe, the universe remains constant (steady-state theory), or even that our solar system had nine planets. Now we even theorize that 95% of the universe consists of dark matter and energy, we can only put forward theories about it because we don’t know how to measure or quantify it. So we have 5% of the universe that we don’t fully understand yet and 95% that we don’t even know how to understand. What we know now we will look back on as simple and naïve some time in the future.
Let me stop here and clarify. I do believe in the importance of science and think that it is very valuable to our society. The fact that I can type on a computer and put my thoughts on the internet for people to see, if they care to read them, or the medication and medical treatments available to us or improvements in agriculture or the technology that make cities possible are incredible things. I only point out the shortcomings of science to show there are shortcomings, and we fill in those gaps with assumptions until we know otherwise.
Why is this so dangerous? I’ll give you an example. Man-made global warming was a done deal, settled science. The earth is warming, it’s caused by man-made activity, and it will lead to catastrophe. Many in the world are ready to change the entire economies and societies of the world to reverse the potential damage done. All of this is based on supposed scientific facts.
Now when I read and hear arguments for and against global warming almost every one of them come down to something like “well you can’t prove there is or isn’t global warming, but on the chance that it is true we should take the steps necessary to limit our carbon footprints because the disastrous effects of global warming are so bad.” Now correct me if I’m wrong but I think I have heard the same argument from religious people that goes something like “you can’t prove there is or isn’t a God, but you should live a religious life because avoiding spending eternity in hell is worth any inconvenience you might have now.”
Belief in global warming is based in science and the belief in God is based in religion, but it takes the same LEAP of FAITH to come to your belief. Understanding that changing the entire world because of global warming is based on a belief, or a leap of faith, and not on scientific fact is important when deciding if its worth it.