Saturday, May 14, 2005

On Faith...and Politeness

Had reason to say this on a list of Pakistanis involved in science and engineering:

My point is that we need to keep our minds open. I have seen lots of fans of science make the case that God's existence can't be proven. (That's why we people of faith call it "faith", by the way; you have to take it on faith.) But I haven't seen anyone provide proof that God doesn't exist. And my scientific training (Bachelors' in Engineering, Masters in a Social Science) teaches me that when you can't prove something OR disprove something, you have to keep your mind open to the possibility of either being true. Until gravity was proven, it didn't mean that gravity didn't exist--just that we didn't understand it.

A lot of people have one working hypothesis (that God doesn't exist; all "superstition" is nonsense) and demand proof to convince them otherwise.That's a very valid, scientific stand to take and you are justified in taking that stand till you see real data to change your mind.

However, my working hypothesis is different. I start with the assumption that God does exist and there's most probably something to some of this spiritual stuff. And I am yet to find anything that moves me the other way.

In the absense of further data, I guess we will have to agree to disagree. That's my point. Can we disagree more politely rather than making fun of things that other people might believe and cherish? Isn't that the scientific, and human way?

And here's another reason to be nice: the faint possibility that when you start a conversation by making fun of something your interlocutor has affection for, you run the chance of making them defensive and not listening to your argument. I know this is not a rational thing to do, but, hey, you know?! Humans aren't rational beings all the time.
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