I commented this on a page I’m a part of, where some high-minded intellectuals were mocking one of those pictures where a Christian holds up a sign questioning atheism. In this cast, the question was: “How do you explain a sunset if there is no God?” On the surface, this seems like a stupid question… But really, only if you presume the person asking it is stupid because they dare question you. Here is a paraphrase of my comment + a reply to someone’s retort who was continuing to misapprehend it:
“This is what happens when people only use one side of their brain to view reality. I refer both to this woman’s question, which seems to fundamentally misunderstand what no God implies, and the responses, which seem to misunderstand just what question ‘God’ answers.
Her question does not imply she doesn’t know the earth revolves around the sun — it implies that without a God, there is no Reason for something so beautiful and perfect to exist. She just can’t comprehend why there would be a sunset if no one crafted it. And the idea that the Earth revolves around the Sun is not a Reason. It is the cause of an effect, but not a capital ‘R’ Reason.
In this context, Reason implies will & mind, and it’s the only way some people comprehend the things around them. It’s a reality filter, if you will, just like viewing the world as a causal chain also is. People like this woman cannot conceive of a thing without the will of something else to put it there. To live in a rudderless universe isn’t something they can wrap their brain around, and I will admit that I didn’t get just how beautiful the revelation of it could be. That all this is, and possibly ever was, and with cause, but without Reason, is not, in fact, terrifying, but beautiful.
I believe in both. The reconciliation of the opposites–the world is both conscious and vacant, depending entirely upon where one is standing and how one interprets the data. No religion is correct, and science, while correct, is not the complete picture, nor can it ever truly be. It can only address the “how,” not the “why” of things. Because “why” is an abstract question meant to be contemplated, not answered.
(Here is where a commenter retorted, saying science answers plenty of why’s such as why the sky is blue, etc.)
You’re not answering the same “why.” The scientist tells you why the paint is blue. Only Monet can tell you why his sky is blue.
This fundamental difference in what the question means is the source of the entire disagreement. You cannot answer a philosopher’s question with a fact. You simply cannot. The only answer to a philosopher’s question is more thought. An answer is where thought ceases. The problem comes from both religion and science trying to answer the unanswerable. The point of “God” as a concept is to continue thinking about the infinite and thus expand one’s mind. As the purpose of lifting weights is not to put them on a high surface, but to grow stronger. The point of science is to answer the answerable, know the knowable, and probe the infinite. There, the point is the journey, and to continue answering forever, where the former is to continue questioning.
You cannot answer a philosophical “why?”, but the point is–and the one they’ve forgotten or have been tricked into never knowing–is that they cannot, either, and that the answer was never the point of it all.”