Can Christians tolerate not knowing?

Babs asked a question in Yahoo! Answers that I normally would have ignored, but for some reason, her terminology provoked a response out of me. Here is her question:

Don't believe in God? How do YOU explain the world's existence?

PLEASE DO NOT BE RUDE!!

I'm serious! Don't try to tell me I'm stupid for believing in God or "God isn't real" or try to convince of a particular religion. Just tell me how you would explain the world's existence since according to you there is no God. NO ONE can use the big bang theory, because as a personal scientist who is updated constantly on all current physics and cosmology facts and events, I can tell you that it is JUST a theory and actually contradicts itself and the laws of quantum mechanics/Einstein's general theory of relativity(once again, a theory).


And here is how I responded:

You use a term that I am not familiar with: "Personal Scientist." I must speculate, but I assume that this means someone who is relatively untrained and unqualified to be called a scientist in any real sense of the term.

If I'm wrong, forgive me.

If, however, I'm right, you should be ashamed of yourself, because you are happy with calling yourself a scientist with none of the prerequisite knowledge.

The issue of explaining the world's (i.e., Earth's) existence is relatively simple, compared with explaining the universe's existence. The formation of the planets has been "theoretically" explained via the star formation process, which begins by gravitational heating of gasses, the resulting beginning of nuclear fusion, the consumption of hydrogen, and ultimately the consequent creation of heavier elements. Supernovae explode these heavier elements into the universe, and allow for later generations of stars to develop and to attract rockier bodies, such as the Earth, which has an iron core.

However, I doubt that is the question you are really asking. If it were, you would have actually gone to the astrophysics section or visited the site http://talkorigins.org, where such questions are answered with more specificity and probably more clarity than I can provide.

Instead, I believe you are asking how can non-believers live without a sense of certainty of what happened before the big bang, if indeed there can be even a discussion of "before" the big bang, since time itself probably began at that moment.

The truth is that scientists and non-believers are quite happy to allow for the process of discovery to go on without an end. Believers have a hard time with such an open-ended process, and so into the gap hypothesize "God." As such, however, God fails to be either satisfactory or permanent. A God who is only first cause cannot possibly be then asserted to be the personal God of the world's religions, because that God's message is so diffuse as to be impossible to ascertain. Each religion pretends to have the direct message from God, creator of the universe, but this simply is the hubris of human imagination. Rather, the first-cause God is simply an ignition switch that starts the engine rolling, and is in no way involved after disconnecting the jumper cables. What's more, a first-cause God is ever in retreat. As science discovers more and more, God recedes into the reaches that remain unexplained.

So the question you asked is not one that involves an answer but an attitude. Can you tolerate not knowing, but continuing to support discovery? Or do you have to assert a pretend answer that serves no more purpose than a comfort in the face of ambiguity? Non-believers embrace the ambiguity with awe and wonder and are satisfied with it alone. Believers have to pretend they know more than in reality is possible.


Oddly enough, Babs selected this as the best answer out of 32 submitted!

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Comment by NH Baritone on July 30, 2008 at 6:34am
So can we have your liver, then?
Comment by Dane on July 29, 2008 at 11:08pm
Nice

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