I regard myself as a non-theist, not because I reject the notion of an entity that, to humanity, would seem godlike, but because I reject a specific concept of how that entity manifests itself. I do not believe in a benevolent father-figure that’s sitting on a throne watching over us and making sure everything turns out for the best. This does not mean I believe there’s nothing out there, as an atheist might claim. I believe the universe itself displays a type of intelligence, if not conscious awareness. All the elements that go into creating life, and the environment in which those elements came together to create life, came from the universe. Everything that exists in us exists in the universe. The nature and extent of that intelligence is beyond the scope of human understanding, though. We cannot know the “mind of god” and therefore cannot interpret the will of god.
In addition to being products of the universe, we are also unique to the earth we inhabit. We share a common kinship with other creatures on the earth. We are born, mature, thrive in, and eventually return to the earth that yielded us. If any one of us goes out into the woods and dies, with no one around to know where we are or what’s become of us, the earth knows what to do with us. The bugs get us, large predators may come along, and whatever is left turns back into dust. Maybe our bones will petrify so there’s some indication we were there, but for the most part, we’ll simply go back to the elements that yielded us in the first place. It’s the most efficient recycling system ever devised.
Unlike an atheist who claims there’s nothing out there, I take a more agnostic approach to the question, believing that what’s out there is beyond the confines of human perception at the moment. We simply don’t know how to see or interact with it, or even if we’re capable of interacting with it. The human race may someday be able to approach an understanding of whatever underlies the inspiration for the cosmos, but currently, we are too egotistical, too anxious to crown ourselves the ultimate authority on all things earthly, and incapable of admitting we don’t really understand most of what we experience. The less we know, the more arrogant we become about asserting our superiority. Nature, on more than one occasion, has reminded us we are not superior to it, and yet we continue to act as though we’re the supreme beings. The universe never consciously asserts it’s authority, it simply exists. As has been shown with the dinosaurs and other creatures that once walked the earth, the universe neither knows, nor cares that we’re here.
Most human conceptions of god are nothing more than descriptions of how a human might act if it had god-like powers. Emotions are instincts, biochemical reactions in the brain. An entity which has no physical form, no mammalian brain, won’t experience emotions. An entity intelligent enough to conceive of the universe and everything in it, and powerful enough to, if not create the universe outright, at least establish the conditions under which the universe came into being, simply won’t behave the way we think it would. We came about as the result of millions of years of evolution and we are the products of our environment. An entity which exists outside this environment will not have undergone this process and therefore will not be subject to the effects of this environment. We cannot exist outside the confines of the earth, without constructing means to reproduce the conditions necessary for life on earth. The entity we refer to as god either directly or indirectly brought about those conditions, and must, therefore, exist outside them.
What is needed is a new philosophy, one that values the god of science over the god of faith, because the god of science is far more complex than the god of faith. When I speak of a god of science, I’m not talking about a god created by science, but a god revealed through science. Those who believe in the god of faith believe scientists are trying to take god away, but in reality, if such an entity exists, it doesn’t matter if anyone believes or not. An entity that existed before time, that sees all and knows all, that knows its creations better than they know themselves already understands why those creations behave the way they do. No words, no thoughts, no set of beliefs can alter the nature of this entity, so why worry? If this entity underlies the fabric of the universe, then we don’t simply exist as creations of this entity, but rather as a part of it. The energy that powers the universe powers us. We breathe the air, consume the nutrients, are affected by its changes. We’re all connected to it and to one another. It flows through us. What, then, can anyone do to affect such an entity? The very nature of questioning its existence becomes nothing more than another manifestation of it.
Perhaps it’s time to remind ourselves that in cosmic terms, we’re still children, existing in a world we are only just beginning to perceive. Understanding comes much later. The first step is to admit we don’t know nearly as much as we think we do. We need to start asking more questions, and sincerely listening for the answers, and to break down any barriers that prevent everyone from participating in the conversation. Until we come to a clearer understanding of ourselves, and our position in the universe, we can never hope to know the mind of god.