Friday, September 02, 2005

"There Must Be A Rational Explanation for This"

And, to be fair, comments that benefit the other side of the aisle.

I'm sure we've all heard the comment, "There must be a rational explanation for this!" This will come up when a seemingly mystical or supernatural event occurs.

Yes, there's a rational explanation for this: God did it. Or the Devil. Or a magician. If these things are true or seem to accord with the evidence on hand and are verifiable, they're rational statements.

What people actually mean is "I'm sure there's a explanation that does not involve things totally beyond my current experience." This is reasonable, but it is in fact a statement of faith: it postulates things that one currently does not have the evidence for.

And faith is just fine. People like Penn and Teller really need to stop implying that atheism is the only or even the more rational choice. Every day people "believe" arational things like faith. They believe that the world is a good (or bad) place. They suspend their disbelief that a child named Harry Potter actually exists so they can enjoy. They feel and read and peruse art. All of these are arational. One of the human feelings people have is the rapturous spiritual feeling, and that's just fine. A respect for diversity and tolerance that otherwise left-oriented people should have is not showing with comments like these.

Now, admittedly to assume that something is deceiving the senses, that an illusion is occuring, that something operates in the background that could be explained in a scientific or mostly scientific way seems to me to be a better assumption to make, if only because it postulates less new things (and Ockham's Razor leads me to assume that, of two equal explanations, the less complicated is more valid).

Of course, regarding that spiritual experience: To say that scientists see incredible things, that the tapesty of creation is truly awe-inspiring, is completely valid. But this does not prove God's existence. It may reaffirm it for the faithful. My point to those individuals would then be that, since not just Christian scientists and science lovers but also Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, etc. experiences the same spiritual feeling and awe of wonder, that perhaps we're all on an equal playing field, spiritually speaking.


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