Thursday, June 26, 2008

Forest for the Trees

I was recently accused by a New-Ager for "not seeing the forest for the trees"; he claimed I was too concerned with the physical, observable, material universe to see his god. Poor thing. If only there were some way to make sure he was right without having to wait on my own divine revelation...

I hope I've already made it absolutely clear on this blog why we can't just trust people's word of personal revelation. It's frightening how many people think that science is an enemy of mankind and if we just trusted our gut feelings we'd be better off. As Carl Sagan best said, "I try not to think with my gut. If I'm serious about understanding the world, thinking with anything besides my brain, as tempting as that might be, is likely to get me into trouble."

If we are to entertain the ideas that a transcendent, eternal, spiritual something-or-other exists (though not in any honest sense of the word) and has feelings, thoughts, and desires for us, it's best that we try to determine the validity of those ideas within the current framework of understanding that we possess -- a framework that has made our more longer and more enjoyable. If that's paying too much attention to the bark and ignoring the beauty of the forest, so be it. At least we'll be able to tell if the trees can talk, or at the very least be able to tell what kind of tree it is, where in the world it might be, and how best to get out of the wilderness.


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