Monday, December 24, 2007

The Greatest Mystery

It is fitting, at Christmas, to contemplate the greatest mystery of all: the mystery of existence.

Monotheists say that God exists and existence is God:
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, saith the Lord God, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty. (The Apocalypse of Saint John, 1:8)
Atheists say that things simply exist, that's all. But atheism is a faith, not a scientific proposition. As a noted scientist and anti-religionist, Richard Dawkins, puts it:
I believe, but I cannot prove, that all life, all intelligence, all creativity and all "design" anywhere in the universe, is the direct or indirect product of Darwinian natural selection (emphasis added). It follows that design comes late in the universe, after a period of Darwinian evolution. Design cannot precede evolution and therefore cannot underlie the universe.
Even that seemingly forthright statement is evasive. It glosses over the atheistic assumption -- faith -- that the universe and its ingredients -- the stuff of life -- simply came to be. Atheism is a faith because the question of God's existence is beyond the grasp of science, untestable by scientific methods.

The mystery of existence always will be the greatest mystery. But our mode of grappling with the mystery reveals much about ourselves: religious belief is affirmative, atheism is cynical, and agnosticism is cautious.

(For a list of related posts at Liberty Corner, go here.)