NEW HARDCOVER: $37.95
USED HARDCOVER: Check Availability
NEW PAPERBACK: $27.95
USED PAPERBACK: Check Availability
We humans have always strived to understand reality in terms of what we know and encounter in order to help us conquer our own fates. We have seen examples of this all throughout the history of our species, from the cave art of the first members, to ancient civilizations, and even today. This knowledge is an ancestral heirloom of guidance that helps us to ease the struggles of life. Our understanding of reality is ever progressing, but we may never understand its entirety. We may not be smart enough. It is inevitable, however, that our quest won’t end until we’re fully satisfied, and we won’t be satisfied until we believe we know it all.
In this quest, there are two methods of finding answers, which we choose to believe can help us to understand the nature of reality: religion and science. Religion is an attempt to answer our questions about existence itself by utilizing explanations that require both natural and supernatural forces. It offers a romantically pleasing perception of reality and provides its own explanations for our self-worth. Science is humanity’s attempt to solve the same questions but utilizing only observable, natural explanations. It leaves out romantically pleasing, supernatural, good to hear answers, replacing them with cold, hard evidence of the true nature of reality, and ignores the personal need for feelings of self-worth. Furthermore, scientific methods are based on theory: a clump of hypotheses (educated guesses) that are yet to be proven incorrect. Religion is solely a social construct and doesn’t attempt to use evidence to back its claims (as we shall discuss later.) Science does use philosophy, but just as an orienting tool, which may help us to uncover new scientific facts about our universe. Until a philosophic idea is observed in nature and is proven to describe reality, there is a division maintained between the two.
Both the scientist and the religious man do depend on faith. A true scientist, however, has faith not in the science of men, which is subject to fraud and human error. A true scientist has faith in reality – the nature of existence – and the relevance of our humanistic understanding of it. Without such faith, we wouldn’t believe in anything beyond what we directly observe; and furthermore, we can’t even rightly have the faith that what we directly observe is cohesive with reality because of human error. Luckily for us, science’s accurate predictions of the mechanics of our universe and the technology that we utilize, driven by these predictions, strongly suggest that believing that we are incapable of understanding our universe is both naïve and ultimately counterproductive.
A true scientific theory is one of – if not the only – possible explanation(s) for a certain previously mysterious aspect of reality. These theories are ever changing as the result of new facts gathered or the uncovering of theoretical error, indicating that it wasn’t ever a truly scientific theory (as true science is, by principle, utterly factual.)
Although there are many causes of theoretical error, human egotism appears to be the most flagrant throughout history. Like all other organisms, we humans always put ourselves before everything else in our environment. Even self-suicides to save another are actually for ourselves: our emotions dictate both our desires and our actions. This is the nature of life. In fact, scientists are now beginning to question the separation between humans and other life forms, asking themselves if this separation only exists within our minds! Of course, this philosophic brand of egotism of ours is understandable. Besides the biological end of it, we appear to be the smartest, the most civilized, and the only beings that have the ability to question their selfishness, anyway. Our deeply complex social structure makes us the current world dominating macroorganisms. If one doesn’t know any better, it appears that the Earth is still and all astral objects revolve around us. To our ancestors, this kind of egocentric observation led to the belief that everything existent is either for us or because of us. This natural and romantically pleasing conclusion led us to create complex religious beliefs which propagate the idea that nature is composed of seemingly arbitrary, divinely controlled events. Millennia passed before this conception was widely questioned.
During the European Renaissance of the Sixteenth Century, science exploded throughout our culture, spreading new ideas regarding humanity’s ability to comprehend nature. What was once held as divine and arbitrary was now newly found to be natural and orderly. The science of this time started a chain reaction of scientific discovery, leading to all of the modern technology and new viewpoints about the capabilities of nature that are readily utilized today. In this search to find the true mechanics of reality, we have come to the gradual realization that no worldly events occur in an arbitrary, unorganized manner. They reflect a certain underlying order, and this directly conflicts with the previous theological ideas that were once cherished. Throughout just the last two millennia, our culture has developed from the geocentric ideas of Ptolemy, through the heliocentric revolution of Copernicus and Galileo, to the modern view of our place in the world, in which the Earth is a medium-sized planet, which orbits around one of many average stars in the outer suburbs of one of at least a few hundred billion spiral galaxies in our universe. Yet, the strong anthropic principle – the Creationistic idea that everything is the way it is just so we can exist – would claim that this vast assembly of galaxies exists simply for our sake. (Hawking p.130) Where has the room for our egocentricity gone?
In our current view of reality there is a single, complete skeleton of theory emerging which is capable of explaining the entire universe’s existence. Although it is currently only a partial skeleton, every indication that we have observed leads us to believe that we are on the right track, stringing together the most elementary principles of nature’s workings into a readily verifiable theory. In this skeleton, the subjects of pure science, biological evolution, and those pertaining to the human brain constitute the explanation of our own existence. Due to the complexity of each broad genre of sciences, I refer to each of these divisions as books of their own. Just as the Christian Bible is a collection of several books with individual purposes, which form a collective understanding, so is the Atheist’s Bible. Also included is an extra section created to help us understand the truths of popular religion, where we will come to understand how both the mind creates thought and how thought controls the mind. These sections collectively create what I refer to as our Orientation to Existence. To further back the ideas presented in this Orientation, I next consider the things that are, as of yet, classified as having unknown causes – also popularly referred to as “supernatural” — and show them to be otherwise by applying to them the framework of theory derived from the previous two books. This telling test of the fortitude of our theory of everything is contained within the Book of the Unknown. Finally, after uprooting the basis of theism with these books, I attempt to replace some of the positive aspects that religion does distribute to its followers with new positive aspects, which, I believe, will not only sufficiently replace the old, they will be much more beneficial and fruitful to the individual. This replacement is held in the final two subsections of the collection. Let us now being our journey. Enjoy!