In my younger years, the belief in a world populated by divine entities plagued my thoughts. To the eyes of an atheist, I was a religious adherent, albeit not as devoutly as some of my contemporary acquaintances. What underlay my faith in Buddhism was my familial connection to its tradition. The early exposure to the rituals, the teachings, the occasions celebrating the many aspects of the religion endorsed my confidence in the existence of deific figures. Blindly, I called myself a Buddhist without ever enquiring my parents if we truly were. Their answer was, astoundingly, "No, we are not. It is sort of a Eastern Asian culture thing". The dazzling answer abruptly reconstituted my belief in life but was inadequate to invite me to atheism. One could argue that I was an explorer in search of another treasure because he had lost his own fortune. It was then that science arrived in my collection of percepts and quickly evolved into a constructive and instructive set of concepts that governed my belief. The empirical precision, logical formulation, extensive interrelations between disciplines inspired the birth of my atheism. That the world could indeed be comprehended by the finite capacity of our mental prowess, that life could be described by mechanistic processes and sometimes reasonably reduced to a few sets of equations on theoretical grounds, that those things could be achieved by science further augmented by view in the absence of God. That God was science itself, I sometimes remarked.
Creation is such a delicate concept. Indeed even I myself struggled to accept that something could not have come out of nothing. For every product, there is an inventor (or more, statistically speaking). However, all that causality is framed in a psychogenic, humanistic framework. A child comes from, at least, the mother. An item comes from, in part, the manufacturer. A concept originates from, at minimum, an ideologist. "At least, "in part", "at minimum" are cautionary phrases that signify the collaborative efforts of natural or artificial achievements. A woman cannot conceive on her own. A manufacturer cannot produce without a design plan. An ideologist cannot theorise without observations of previous suggestions. All of these tentative examples point to the logic of a supreme Creator that gave birth to the origin of Life, as postulated and cherished by the organised religions of past and present. Something must not come out of nothing. By logical extension, one must query the origin of the Creator as I often posed the question to a religious friend. It is interesting to note, but at large irrelevant to our topic, that despite the differential doctrines of existing religions, the respective followers possess a lot of similar characteristics as well as their answers to fundamental ideas: "God is beyond us so we cannot fully understand Him, let alone ask where He comes from. It is out of the question". It was the answer, to their best effort to call it an "answer", that I was consistently awarded with and often I walked away once again having another enigma that my finite life may not hope to resolve: religious logic is illogical. In favour of their tenets, the religious bodies disparage science as a failure to explain the origin of the universe and never fail to perpetuate the notion of everything has a creator. Yet they are happy to accept to the Creator of the Creator is out of the question. For all it's worth, it is an insult to our intellect.
While organised religions were, are and will never be able to impress me with their so-called "truths", science itself ironically offers the insights into the existence of God that I have ardently desired to observe, at least conceptually. The early trigger was the astronomical detection of "dark matter". For a high school student such as myself at the time, it was an easy thing to absorb the gist of the problem. It was a compelling proof that there was something really beyond us because dark matter did not interact with our known matter. Thus my firm grip on atheism loosened. It only took a few tertiary years in science to annihilate my atheist soul. Life began to unfold in a more complex and meaningful manner but its source is a strikingly and intrinsically simple mechanism: Life is not deterministically but probabilistically driven. This notion was first explicitly endorsed by quantum mechanics. Then extending this concept to biology, I discovered that evolution also confirmed the principle. Afterwards, upon applying this belief on the finite areas of various scientific disciplines, it became increasingly convincing. Even in daily life, for the things that are deterministic in classical mechanics and even in human perception, probability is the underlying force: when you push a ball with the best possible accuracy and dexterity, there is a low probability that it will stray out of the intended course (the ball collapsed due to a previously punctured hole, for example); when you cook rice, it won't definitely turn out right for consumption - what happens is that the probability for it to be appropriate for our meal is very high although there is a minor chance that it won't (a malfunction in the rice cooker, for instance). In unifying this principle with the theory of Big Bang, my idealism about Life was complete at least in its basic structure: at the beginning of time (and it is nonsense to ask what happened before time began just like you don't ask what an item looked like and behaved before it was actually conceived, designed and manufactured), the Big Bang occurred (the physics at and some fraction of a second after this will need to be solved by experts) and Life evolved in the currently accepted manner. The first organism on Earth (without dwelling too much into the "extraterrestrial aliens' visit" theory) was a successful integration of various biochemical signals after a long series of trials (much like in a culture dish, if you put two biological compounds together, they might interact in a way that is not normally expected like the discovery of penicillin). Darwinian evolution immediately took place and led to our current state of existence.
Quite surprisingly, my belief actually has a name which I've recently discovered: naturalistic pantheism. Therefore God to me is just a notion. The Creator is the underlying mechanism of life itself. I tend to dislike oversimplification but these simplistic ideals are attractive in numerous senses. The extradimensional space, the unexplored matter, etc. are just consequences of an intrinsic evolution of Life with its mechanistic drives. That Life itself is God.
How an atheist sought the existence of God
By Lam Nguyen | November 19th 2009 12:34 AM | Print | E-mail