Thinking about God

I love it when people try to connect religion and science.

Whenever there is a natural disaster there are always those who announce loudly that it is the will of God or that God is punishing us. Jon Stewart points out that there are those who are just as quick to proclaim miracles. Either way, it seems people can't help but imagine that God is acting directly in their lives.

Scientific American blogger Jesse Bering writes about why people make that connection; in essence, experiments seem to show that once we hit a certain age our brains are more likely to interpret random occurrences (a picture falling, or lights flickering) as signs of supernatural existence. (You can read the article in its entirety here.) I'm not saying there's isn't a God, if you know me or have ever taken a class with me, you know I am quite vocal about my belief in God -- just that not everything that happens is because of God's direct involvement.

It's not surprising that people see God acting in their lives. It's tempting to look for signs from God everywhere -- it's how our minds give meaning to what otherwise seems meaningless. Attributing things to God gives us a sense of power in an uncertain world. If we view natural disasters as punishments and miracles as rewards, then we have the illusion of control. If we know what God wants and we know what the consequences are, then we believe we can influence everything in the world.

It is tempting to think that we can control the uncontrollable ... and incredibly self-centered. We aren't the center of of our world, jus as the earth isn't the center of the universe.

Bering's article is a reminder that while we may be "wired" to see signs everywhere, we are not required to do so.


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