I had a hard time with Ayn Rand because I found myself enthusiastically agreeing with the first 90% of every sentence, but getting lost at “therefore, be a huge asshole to everyone.”
Couldn’t agree more.
It’s natural that our comprehension of God is limited by our imagination. That’s why scientists get rankled at the notion that science takes the wonder out of the world. An astronomer spends her life wrapping her mind around the biggest, and wondrous, concepts in the universe, a biologist spends his life wrapping his mind around the most intricate, and wondrous, details of the universe, and so on.
Often, scientists are agnostic. Their concept of the natural world is so amazing, the supernatural holds no attraction for them.
But many of these intellectual types do have spiritual, and even religious, beliefs. And, as a result of the mind-expanding concepts they deal with on a daily basis, their concept of God (by any name) is HUGE. They are mystified by the conflicts about keeping Christ in Christmas, keeping God in schools, whether or not God blesses America, who gets married, and whether our national pledge also affirms God. And that’s the American perspective. They are equally mystified that God cares whether men wear beards, women drive, or a religious figure is depicted in a picture.
From that perspective, God doesn’t have a country. He doesn’t even have a planet. Earth is a mote of dust in a mote of dust in a mote of dust in a mote of dust in God’s full creation. He doesn’t have a holiday…in fact the whole of human history is an eye-blink in His creation. God is present in school and Christmas and a foxhole because God is everywhere and everywhen to an unfathomable degree, not because of national policy.
You don’t have to be a scientist yourself to understand this, but anyone reading this has a responsibility to keep a proper sense of perspective. If you really realize the grandeur of His creation, you can’t help but glimpse that these conflicts are insignificant. Irrelevant. Petty. Needlessly fearful.
If you’re worried about whether God is in…anything…you’ve forgotten Who you’re talking about.
Fun science fact about the sky: did you know that it has several huge galaxies in it? I don’t mean the universe, everybody knows there are zillions (that’s a technical term) of galaxies out there. I mean the sky. The Andromeda Galaxy, which is the one that stands in for our own galaxy in probably every “You are here” T-shirt and poster you’ve ever seen, covers 190′ x 60′ of sky. What does that mean? Well the moon covers about 30′ of sky, so…
You just can’t see it like that because it’s too dim! But I still love mentally picturing it.
The scene at the end of The Empire Strikes Back is actually similar to our own sky – it’s just that the galaxy they’re looking at would also be too dim to show up like that, even from a spacecraft:
Seriously, you should be able to debunk this yourself, without looking anything up, right away, if you think about it.
If you know how and are willing to think critically.
Critical thinking happens after “Wow, neat,” and before “Let me Like/Share/Tweet this!”
What’s special about the picture? The planets are over the pyramids, but couldn’t you just figure out where to stand to do that almost any time? The apparent heights don’t match at all. The planets are in a nice line, but aren’t there a bunch of planets moving around the sky all the time? That’s probably not so rare. Internet hoaxes are common, so this is probably just that.
At this point, you could also check Snopes, but you know you probably needn’t bother. You haven’t proven anything yet, but you can tell the likelihood that the statement is true is pretty low.
If you won’t think critically, you will believe and repeat myth.
If you combine critical thinking with just a little bit of knowledge about reputable sites (yes, Wikipedia counts 99% of the time), you’ll be safe from believing myth. You’ll be able to be impressed by things which really are amazing.
Pop quiz: what if you saw this in your news-feed: a picture with the planets right at the tip of each pyramid and the caption “At midnight on 12/21/2012, the eyes of the Great Sphinx will be looking at this!”
Now, that would be a truly impressive claim. The details like the exact time, the more precise planetary positioning, and the fixed position and angle of the observer…that would be amazing! And there’s nothing inherently wrong about the statement on the face of it. But you should be able to dispense with it in about 30 seconds with a quick fact check. Hint: go here and just look…no need to read.
The best thing about thinking critically is that it gets faster and easier. Like any muscle, you can develop it, and the result is having a built-in BS detector. You use it like a filter, and your experience in life is more pleasurable, because there’s less noise in your FaceBook newsfeed, your Twitter feed, your email, or the ads you see.