Friday, August 10, 2012

Did We Invent God?

This week I watched another interesting episode of Through the Wormhole on the Science Channel, and it discussed whether or not humans created God as a way to cope with unexplainable events in our lives--I've often wondered this.

It used to be that God lived in the sky and earth was the center of the universe, which the sun and everything else revolved around. We learned that wasn't true, and God, like our science, adapted to where He now either exists in a different plane (heaven) or encompasses all that is, was, and will be. He used to speak to the people in the Bible. Now He gives us signs.

I found several experiments in Through the Wormhole incredibly interesting. In one test, psychiatrists demonstrated that humans did not believe or acknowledge imaginary or invisible beings until around the age of 6 or 7. If a child younger than that was told of an invisible princess in the room, they didn't acknowledge her flicking on and off the lights and always guessed wrong where a ball was hidden in wooden containers. When they understood the flicking light was the invisible princess giving them a sign, they guessed right.

Similarly, in another test, children cheated when left alone to play a rigged game. When children of the same age were told there was an invisible princess sitting in a chair, watching them, they no longer cheated; it was amusing watching them wave their hand over the chair to try and sense if the princess was in it before they decided not to cheat.

Another test I found fascinating had people answering questions on a computer. At the end of the test, they were shown a still picture of television static. Originally, they said they saw nothing. Then the psychiatrists added a random correct or incorrect to every question answered. The test subjects, feeling they had failed the test (there really was no pass or fail as they could have received an incorrect no matter what they answered) started to see things in the static, when they shouldn't have. In other words, their brains interpreted and made sense of a chaotic, incomprehensible problem. They saw patterns and signs.

These tests aren't definitive proof that God has been conjured by our minds; they merely demonstrate that with intelligence we're capable of accepting concepts beyond what we can hear, smell, see, or feel, and we're prone to problem solving, making sense of things that don't make sense. Not only that, the ability to do so is interwoven in our DNA. Otherwise, we would have never found germs or particles or bands of light. Somewhere along the way, our brains diverged from every other form of life on our planet. Was it divine intervention, evolution, a mutation, or happenstance?

I don't have an answer. I'd like to think there's a God, that things happen for a reason, that we're given signs and directions, that life was created through a higher power, not by chance. I'd like to think, "God does not play dice with the universe." I'd like to think, even if I turn out to be wrong, something is looking out for our best interests.

But, I'm human, and I have doubts. I question one moment, pray the next, and I wouldn't be surprised if I wasn't alone in my agnostic-want-to-believe behavior. Worst case scenario, as I truly believe I live life the best I can with little pain or hate toward others, I die and it's like before I was born--comfortable nothingness.

1 comment:

  1. Doubt is better than unthinking belief, in my book.