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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Religion and Reasoning - Part I

In this and the posts which will follow, when I say religion I mean all monotheistic religions which have foundations in Creation/ Intelligent Design and prophesies the Day of Judgment. More importantly, these are my views and I am not an authority over anything but I seek truth, just like you do.

The modern man puts reasoning and rationality above everything -- to the extent it challenges the need for a religion. In what follows, firstly, I'll indicate why I think reasoning and common sense can't give you everything.

Let me start by asking a few questions: Do you think that clockwise and anticlockwise rotation are mutually exclusive? What if I tell you that it's possible for something to rotate in both directions simultaneously? Well, in Quantum Mechanics an electron can be rotating both clockwise and anticlockwise at the same time.

As another example, you believe you know reproduction. Perhaps, virgin birth is impossible. Right? Wrong! Consider this.

Before one starts making logical conclusions that disprove God's existence, let me ask if the following statement can be attributed as true or false: "This is a lie." Obviously, if it's false then it's not a lie and if it's true, then again it's not a lie. We have arrived at a paradox -- it's not necessary that "logic" itself will give you all the answers you want.

But this doesn't mean that reasoning is a plague. In fact, whatever could be deduced from the above discussion is still based on reasoning! The problem is that reasoning begins with a premise (and our knowledge is constantly increasing and thus, the premises keep changing) and secondly, there is no escape from paradoxes.

If you go through Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, you will experience the strange world of "self reference." Let me give you another example (inspired from GEB):

A genie comes out when you open up a bottle. The genie asks, "Make a wish and I'll fulfill it." You say, "Grant me 3 more wishes."
The genie would reply, "That's a meta-wish!"

The more you talk about self reference (as well as the higher level of being), the more confusing it gets!