If there is anything unique about the human race, at least as far as I know, it is the supremely arrogant belief that some all powerful entity – who for some reason takes the same ‘image’ as man, a somewhat intelligent ape– has created the universe just for him (the WHOLE universe!), and that this prime-mover has certain expectations about how he should behave and what he should believe.
I don’t recall every witnessing any other animal display evidence of a religious belief, although admittedly, I am not a biologist, nor do claim to have any ability to communicate with or perceive the thoughts of animals. That said, I’ve never seen it and I have no reason to believe that my cat curls up at night and pays homage to what would probably resemble an Egyptian god. The most logical reason that homo-sapiens are the only clear example of a religious beast is that as the only species with the developed ability to conceive of such an idea, we did just that.
It is certainly a common biological trait of our kin to hold onto some notion of a god or gods; religion is too widely observed to be anything else. I find it likely that it is an attempt to explain a deep seeded perception of something greater which cannot yet be observed or understood, however the wide variation of the ‘explanations’ offered by religions of every stripe suggest that it is improbable any one group of people has the right answer.
The day may one day come when humanity collectively understands what is it that we so dearly seek to find from religion: a sense of purpose, the origins of life, and the nature of the universe at large. I simply cannot accept that any answer, which comes from a book or is passed down through tradition over centuries and millennia can realistically explain the universe in terms consistent with the knowledge earned by society through years of philosophical and scientific exploration. It is no coincidence that physicists and biologists, those with a deep appreciation for inner-workings of the basic building blocks of life and matter, are the least likely to subscribe to any organized religion.
The temptation to grasp for understanding by embracing the idea of an intelligent designer is strong. To look upon the complexity of the human body, or the beauty of the heavens and see nothing at work is unforgivably obtuse. That there seems to be an order to the world around us, even one that can’t easily be recognized nor explained, is evident even to the most skeptical of minds. The ‘miracle’ of life, the complex molecular structure of DNA teeming with information, the spontaneous transformations in the code from which new life emerges and through which life evolves, it can’t all be random and accidental. Surely there is some force, a guiding hand leading the way, a reason things happen the way they do.
Scientists can be equally as naïve. To say anything cannot be explained is defeatist and arrogant, as if everything has been discovered and the pursuit of knowledge has been exhausted. In each of our lifetimes, huge leaps in the way we understand the world have shaken our points of view and expanded our frames of reference. The future is uncertain, however what we can be certain of is that new breakthroughs will emerge that will fundamentally alter the depth of human awareness of the energy behind the creative forces of life.
I see ‘god’ in fractal geometry. The pervasive patterns that emerge everywhere we look, a hidden order that we cannot yet fully explain nor deny. The answers are there for us to discover, but they will continue to evade human understanding so long as we cling to our fairy tales, our ancient rivalries, and our religious wars.
It is time for us as a species to open our eyes to the world around us, look through the lens of our vast scientific accomplishments, and decide anew how to pursue a greater knowledge of god. Does it make sense that ‘god’ is some heavenly human look-alike who micromanages his creations, or does it make sense that ‘god’ is an unknown force that will one day be listed alongside the strong, weak, and nuclear forces, the electromagnetic spectrum, evolution, gravity, etc.? Until we know more, let’s not be so afraid of saying ‘I don’t know’, and less willing to jump at explanations offered by flying spaghetti monsters in the sky.