I found this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJpEQEs-6bs

This man is charismatic, humble and self-effacing. I think I like him.

I wish I could explain to him why he’s wrong about me.

It’s so interesting to see how our society has twisted and distorted the idea of education, so that almost everyone has the wrong idea. Education isn’t about gathering the collected wisdom of the world. Rather, education is about learning to create new knowledge. The best method we humans have found for this is the invention of good explanations through conjecture, criticism, and testing. Because the potential for creation is infinite, we are not in fact 5% of the way there, nor 1%, nor even 0.0001% along the path to knowing everything. We are, in fact, infinitely far away from complete knowledge. And we always will be. There is an infinite amount of knowledge of which I am ignorant.

And yet I am an atheist. How can I possibly say “there is no god”? I can’t, and in fact that’s not what I say. Instead, I say that supernatural explanations are always bad explanations, because they are infinitely variable. They don’t help me get closer to truth, because there is no conceivable way in which such explanations can deal with reality. If supernatural explanations do, in fact, intersect with reality, they cease to be supernatural explanations. I can’t study supernatural explanations, subject them to criticism, test them, improve them. This is what makes them bad explanations.

So I don’t fit the gentleman’s definition of an atheist. I also don’t fit his definition of an agnostic. I very much care if there is a God who acts in the world, because such a God would be part of the universe, and I want to understand the universe through good explanations. Supernatural explanations don’t get me there.

But, you say, what if that’s really the way the world is? What if the supernatural really does affect the world? Won’t your method just miss it? Won’t you be like the scientists of the late 1700s who insisted that rocks cannot fall from the sky?

Here’s the thing: everything is real. If something is not real, it’s not a thing. Only because things like consciousness and intuition are so complex do they remain shrouded in the sort of mystery that allows us to talk ourselves into the idea that something fishy is going on. But think about it. Thoughts are real. We’ve seen them (go to 9:00 in the video).

If a thought of God somehow appears in your mind, that thought came from somewhere. It created an effect, and we know that every effect has a demonstrable cause. Trace back the cause far enough, and you’ve found the source of that effect. If at some point you find a way for the supernatural to effect the real, then you’ve discovered new physics – and in the process turned God into a legitimate subject for scientific study.

So, does God exist? If He does, then He’s part of this universe, and we can study Him. And maybe even take away the annoying capital letters. Theology then would become a branch of the physical sciences. How does God do it? Surely not radio waves, for any old receiver should pick those up. Is there some new signalling medium, so far unknown to science, used to communicate directly to human brains? If so, let’s find it!

So in one sense the speaker is right. I am a seeker. But I will seek, always, to understand the world through good explanations. I’m not an atheist because I know everything. I’m an atheist because I’m at the beginning of infinity – and always will be.

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