Friday, December 03, 2004

On The Universe of Faith and Reason

Asking anyone about the origin of the universe drops you some interesting clues about their inclinations regarding "faith" or "reasoning".The devout follower would bring in God or some equally powerful force into the equation whereas some rationalists are very comfortable with the idea that "nothing" was existing before the creation and that a random fluke event got us here.You might also find a certain species of people emphasizing the tempering of faith with reason by sayin that they accept something rather than nothing because its simpler and easier to live with .The reason for the lack of consensus is the same reason as Why everybody doesnt drive a Hyundai?

In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. - Carl Sagan

The above quote is the ultimate expression of rationality methinks.I am coward posing as a coward so let me quote George Mikes on the same subject as to why it isnt so rational

"Rationalists, like Euclidean geometers, based their case on a few "self-evident truths." But Einstein convinced the world that there was no such thing as a self-evident truth. A few things were self-evident all right; but they were not true. The shortest way between two points is not the straight line; Time and Length are not absolute notions. This seemed to be the death-knell of Rationalist philosophy. If there is no self-evident truth, there is no Rationalism. But Rationalism refused to lie down and die. Luckily, Rationalism was not quite as rational as all that." --George Mikes, How To Be A Guru

Consider this historical example involving some of the finest minds. Most people have heard about the famous confusion and controversy of the discovery of Calculus between Newton and Leibniz. In his novel Candide Voltaire actually was caricaturing none other than Leibniz. Voltaire was Leibniz's opponent, and a Newton supporter. Voltaire was against one and in favor of the other, not based on an understanding of their work, but simply because Leibniz constantly mentions God, whereas Newton's work seems to fit in perfectly with an atheist, mechanistic world view. This was leading up to the French revolution, which was against the Church just as much as it was against the Monarchy. This is a prime example of preferring to believe on something very arbitrarily.

If Voltaire atcually had read Newton's private papers, he would have realised that Newton computed the age of the world based on the Bible. Whereas Leibniz was never seen in a church, and his notion of God was sophisticated and subtle. Leibniz's God was a logical necessity to provide the initial complexity to create the world and was using more or less as a placeholder.What a Bummer for him!

All this seems to lend a strong weight to Arthur Koestler's opening lines in The God That Failed (For the Record ' The God ' in the title is a reference to Communist Party)

"A faith is not acquired by reasoning. One does not fall in love with a woman, or enter the womb of a church, as a result of logical persuasion. Reason may defend an act of faith—but only after the act has been committed, and the man committed to the act."

Do you find a lot of times we do some things for no reason that saves us in the end and sometime the best laid plans(all logical and well reasoned) go awry.

All I can say is that once again I will take refuge in George Mike
"Confusion and contradiction have always served humanity better than clear, cold logic."

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