I grew up Catholic, so religion, God and the Church where no strangers to me. But for some reason I always had trouble wrapping my head around the whole concept. As a kid I always questioned: Why is there one god and so many religions? If the church was made by men, what makes it so holy? And if the church is not about riches, what’s up with the Vatican and all the poverty around it? I was never satisfied with the answers I got – They never really explained anything.
Growing up I do remember being very spiritual. I believed in some form of “energy” that was bigger than us all. I would refer to that energy as God because it was the only way to make sense of religion – To think of God as some energy that lives in all of us, like our soul.
Today I struggle with the whole spiritual idea and I’ve developed strong feelings against the church. I have recently grown into a different kind of religion: Physics, or more broadly, Science.
About 3 years ago I read this book called Seven Brief Lessons Of Physics. I had never read about physics before or any other science for that matter. At the time I was going through some personal stuff and was looking for something different to read to keep me distracted. As I read the book it started to change my perspective on my own life. By the time I was done reading it I had learned one of the most important lessons of my life: perspective is everything, change your perspective and it will change your life.
One of the first things I learned about Physics is that time, as we know it, does not really exist – At least not in the physical laws of the universe. Time is a concept that us humans came up with to help us communicate, identify patterns and so on. But the truth is that the Earth rotates around the sun due to gravity and not because a year past by. If the earth were to rotate around the sun in the opposite direction, time for us will remain unchanged. In fact all laws of physics would remain unchanged.
Just like people interpret the readings of the Bible, we can interpret what science teaches us for the same purpose. For example, if time is a man made concept, then why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to accomplish things at a certain age? There is no right time to have kids, get a job, change careers, etc. We should all pursue what makes us happy regardless of our age. This is what I mean about perspective; If we can reflect on the things we learn from science we can change our perspective.
And just like with Time, science teaches us lessons about life very similar to those from religion, but better. For example, religion taught me growing up to “love everyone as my own brothers and sisters”, yet the bible says gays will go to hell. See any issues? Science on the other hand shows us that we [humans] share the same DNA code with every living species on the planet. Ours is just written different. We all come from the same place – literally the same origin. What better argument is there against racism or homophobia? All of us, blacks, hispanics, asian, muslims, jewish, and all other living things (trees, animals, etc), we all share the same DNA code.
I think that when you approach science with a mindset similar to that of going to church – the looking for answers mindset, you’ll quick realize how much it has to offer. There is also something fascinating about science and that is the fact that the more we know, the more we realize we don’t know. This is important because science does not claim to have all the answers. There are a lot of things that scientists don’t know and have spent decades trying to figure out. There’s even scientists that die without ever learning the answer they seek, only to lay the grounds for a younger scientist to reveal and take the fame and honors. But science never provides an answer just for the sake of having one. Like saying “It’s because God wanted it that way”. To Science, that is the same as answering “Just because”, and that is unacceptable. If you don’t have an answer then you keep looking for one. One that not only satisfies your own theories but those of your peers as well. This is powerful. Science does not just take any answer at face value. It studies it, analyze it, break it apart and put it back together. And only after it has satisfied all skeptics and passed all tests, an explanation to a phenomena becomes accepted.
I’ll take that process over a million year old man-written book, any day.
Physics is as much about theory as it is about proof. And that to me, makes it incredibly similar to religion. Physics sets to explain the laws that govern the universe. The questions that we don’t have an answer to and therefore attribute credit to God for.