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THE INEFFABLE PLAN

July 15th, 2019

For those monotheistic religions that foster a belief in some kind of divine plan, there exists an uncomfortable connection to the realm of physics and science.  For Christians, Jews, Muslims and other people of faith, the idea that some sort of ‘God’has a predetermined plan is exactly the same kind of notion as scientific determinism.

 

Scientific determinism, often referred to as just ‘determinism’ can be defined simply as the fact that everything has previous causes. Extrapolating upon this into the future, we can see that the present situation is the cause of future events. Chaining this concept together from past to present and into the future, it’s easy to see a kind of grand history of existential narrative.  Or as religious people might say,a grand plan.

 

Science and religion have historically been at odds with one another, but in this respect they seem completely in sync regarding the logic applied to the cascade of events we call life.

 

When the mystic definitions of ‘god’ are explored with regards to religion, the descriptions of the ‘almighty’ start to sound sufficiently hazy and vague as to approach the lack of definition that precedes all science, namely, what was going on before the ‘big bang’.

 

While the tribal circuits of human psychology are content to ignore these similarities in the name of having an obvious enemy to rub up against, like a bear scratching an itch against a tree, the reality of language, when stripped of big capital letter nouns like ‘God’ and ‘Science’ start to make it seem as though it could be a you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-your-back situation.

 

Whether we call it ‘blue’ or ‘ Синий ’, the subject is still the same.

 

If the god of the religious populations has some sort of divine and ineffable plan, than it is by definition deterministic with regards to some sort of logic. Whether that be uniquely divine or cause-and-effect, regardless of whether we humans have the ability to properly track and anticipate this plan. 

 

The reality is that we need not differentiate between a cause-and-effect plan and a plan with divine logic.  We actually can’t follow either given our cognitive limits, so the difference might as well be negligible, at least so much as it can bring people together over the great mystery of what the hell is going on regarding life and the universe.

 

If scientific determinism were truly accessible beyond a strictly abstract point-of-view, then people would actually be able to predict the future to a finely detailed degree.  But this is not the case, just as it’s not the case that religious people do not have access to the future even though they propose their god has a predetermined plan for it.

 

It would be a mistake to see this as a mere peace-bridge between disciplines of belief.  It is in fact an important area where they definitively converge.    The differences on either side of this bridge, however, should play a significant role in the eyes of those on either side. We must ask: which side is better at predicting the future.  Or rather, to put it in terms already outlined, which side of this bridge is better equipped to track the ineffable plan into the future?  While old religious books might vaguely hint at black swan events like floods and tornadoes, the field of science was able to predict the discovery of things like the Higgs-Bosun particle. 

 

We might consider the difference on another level and ask:  would you rather hire a carpenter who gives the estimated costs as a range between $2,000 and $7,000 or would you rather a carpenter tell you that the job will take exactly 63 hours and cost $3,743.67?

 

This is the difference between science and religion, a difference that becomes increasingly stark and apparent the more that science fine-tunes its methods and the interpretation of its results. Religion, which might even be seen as a philosophical proto-science, has no mechanism to update itself in this way. 

 

And we need not see these disciplines as odds with one another, though that seems to be the dominate narrative that people enjoy playing with.  We can see them as creative extensions of one another.  And if the religious are to believe in an ineffable plan as the scientists believe in determinism, then it must be conceded that the method of science would come about in the ineffable plan of the divine; and retroactively, through the lens of scientific determinism, we can admit that the birth and sweep of religion was necessary for the rise of science.


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Podcast Ep. 456: The Ineffable Plan

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