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Jesus Creed

From Edward T. Oakes, on New Atheism, the Big Bang theory, and our need for narratives that make meaning of existence:

But leaving aside Hoyle’s own indulgence in Just So scenarios, I do think he’s on to something: Lots of science is truly incontestable, but once those results are well and truly established, we are still stuck trying to make sense of them in an overarching narrative. Even the assumption that such results can be fitted into a larger narrative is itself an assumption without scientific warrant, as Hoyle himself seems to concede in an interview: “We tend to avoid the things that are too difficult for us; if we can solve certain equations, we tend to go that way. But the truth may lie in the difficult way. There’s no guarantee that the universe is constructed explicitly to suit our standards of intelligence.”

We can’t seem to help ourselves, we humans crave the overarching narrative that orders our facts.

It seems to me that only two truly overarching scenarios exist to explain how science as a human activity fits into the world. Moreover, each one is by definition impossible to verify by science, since it is science that is seeking admission into the overarching scenario, rather than providing its own. These two narrative frames are: the biblical one of linear time culminating in an eschaton directed by God’s providence, and Nietzsche’s scenario of pointless humans weaving their scenarios against an unfeeling universe. ….


I am not trying to argue here against such a scenario, it being an option impervious to argument anyway, at least among those who have already adopted it as their primary framework for addressing all other questions. (I speak from experience.) But it is a scenario that can hardly be regarded as consequence-free. The battle is still between nihilism and theism. There is no third option. …

That’s the real lesson of atheism: it tells us more about the human condition than it ever can about God. As Pascal again pointed out with his usual unsparing gaze: “If man is not made for God, why is he happy only with God? If man is made for God, why is he so hostile to God?”
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