Science, belief and faith

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If we want that the question of faith (fundamental question to understand the world as it goes) today it is posed in terms suited to our time, it should be formulated different from the Vatican, theologians and thinkers religious do. Since the disappearance of Jean Gagnepain, there is some of that! In reality, the mutations of scientific knowledge are that we can no longer have the same religious perspective that when it opposed the sciences called from “nature” to the faith, the Aristotelian reason to the Muslim faith (like Averroès) or to the Christian faith (as Thomas Aquinas:) all of this has become ridiculous! Let talk about something else. There is in here that anthropologists perhaps have a word to say.

The way in which I will ask the problem requires to dissociate the act of faith (whatever the religion to which you belong or not), a dogmatic whatever, I mean a system of beliefs, that is institutionalized, (as in the Catholic Church) or that which is not (as in the Protestantism).In other words, it is, in order to ask the problem, to exceed the dogmas to envisage the act of faith. This problem, in the generations who have preceded us, was as virtually resolved (which, I say to you immediately, is not the case.) But how claimed them to have it resolved? It had taken his party, since the Renaissance, to separate very clearly two universe: the “safe” and the “not sure,” the nature and supernatural, in other words, since Bacon the “naturalist philosophic” and “supernaturalis philosopher” (which is opposed to theology.) Yet in the end of the XIX century, a disciple of Augusto Comte (representing the positivism,) said in speaking of a possible beyond, that it was an ocean where there was no bark, nor sailing. The formula was nice, but completely ridiculous because at a time when it says: “from there I do not have bark nor sailing,” we determine the shore that means the border between the certain and the uncertain. But the same time, when we ask, in the field of knowledge, the share of certain and uncertain, this uncertain becomes certain of the same time! Be sure at this point to eliminate one of the human aspects with as much certainty, it is a fideism affecting naivety. Define nature and supernatural as areas separated by a certain border, this defines the two sides at once, it is automatically ask the religious problem in a manner as foolishly realistic that the problem is natural. But it was, in essence, quite comfortable.

That it is to celebrate or that it is to lament, that is the problem of the nature and of the supernatural, that are thought settled, is a problem we can no longer present because it is completely questioned by the development of sciences called “nature.” Since Einstein, we are a relation to the sciences of nature, in a Total relativity: we know, now, that it is us who are the world, that there is no more substance, more fixed point nowhere. It is awful ! This does not mean that it must be a malign reason, because we have it at our disposal, then we must use it in the smartest way. There is no therefore more neither man nor nature: what we can seize, it is the interrelationship. You understand then that the concept of “nature of sciences” that, by convenience, it must be continue to call it that, it is a concept that today becomes ridiculous, because to speak of sciences of nature means sciences that are abstraction of the manner in which we observe; in other words, this means: sciences which put the man apart. Well, what I say to you is that the sciences of nature also apply to the famous concept of supernatural. Of the same that we can no longer design the nature as something that can be put to share of man, we cannot conceive a supernatural, I mean a divinity somewhere in the sky, which could exist without us. If the divine is inaccessible to us, I do not see why it must care to us!

The religious problem, in the sense that it should be put today, turns considerably. This act of faith, the religious, cannot be considered as an age of the humanity, as the fact Augusto Comte (you know its famous law of three states: the theological age, the metaphysics age, and finally, the positive age –I mean the scientific.) It is to lay the religious phenomenon as a human transaction: the man is an animal which, because that he has the reason, has the problem of the divine (the question does not arise in rabbit.) And, speaking as a rational operation this make to the man responsible and to the nature and to the supernatural. You understand that the theologians would fall me angry! Because if the clinical anthropology of Jean Gagnepain allows us to start to prepare a study as scientifically as possible of the act of faith (which does not prove its validity, nor his disability) it is made of theology, and even the philosophy, at least in the philosophy so-called classical, which is, in fact, that a secular theology. Remains that, as well as we regard to nature, since the beginning of the profound change in contemporary thinking, the man can no longer be in brackets, he can no longer be considered as what it is called the “transcending,” say the “spiritual,” “as another dimension of the man” since it is with us that this transcending is rooted. There is one more question “Other” with a capital letter. Why this shift and this compliance, since it is that we hold the ability we have to worry about? If you follow me, you realize that this is the end of the pseudo conflict between science and faith. More general, yesterday the rationalism opposed to the religious perspective as a certainty to another certainty. So it was a fanaticism that was all azimuths. Rationalism was also the most sectarian religious sects. That is why we could talk on both sides of fanaticism. Fanaticism is possible in the form of fundamentalism, of course, but it is a conceivable form of progressivism as well. Fanaticism, what is it? It said: “My convictions are the only ones that are worth.” At this point you understand that rationalism or the Pope is all the same. Nietzsche said: “It is not the doubt that makes crazy but the certainty.” We will find it… But first I want to complement and illustrate the early reflections that I have just submitted.

All scientific knowledge is in the process of change, we can not treat it today in the terms in which we dealt with until today, it means that through the holding that it was made of this rationality in science of physics (a “nature”) which in reality has nothing to teach us, since it is us, I repeat, it takes the concepts that allow us to explain. That is what I want to begin by illustrating very quickly.

You know, since Democritus and Epicurus, Western science has gradually developed the concept of determinism. This does not happen from one day to another, of course, not without giving rise to numerous debates. There is still rationality, at least among us, and we have never ceased to explain the world to challenge the luck or chance, or contingency (I mean what happens when that might not happen,) the name of a certain necessity. Science has always ruled that there was chaos in the world for the benefit of an abstract order which ensured consistency while a system of relationships from the point of view of intelligibility: if there were no order, it could no longer explain what the ancient Greeks, significantly, called the cosmos, a word which is a designation of the cosmeïn verb, it means to arrange, to order, just as “cosmetic” is to order our hair! Science, therefore, was constituted by the negation of chance that has been called determinism. Yes, but it cannot prevent researchers from going further, it means that these researchers have gone, thanks to modern means of detection, from macrophysics to microphysics, and they had then reflected a movement of particles that escape from laws of physics; they usually have escaped at the same time, the need they had asked regarding the most visible manifestations. In other words, this transformation of physics at the turn of last century, led to the question of indeterminism. After all, determinism is an illusion: if we will look further and deeper, it is the same; finally, we must know the indeterminacy and try to report it in Science, crossing the uncertainty and chance.

Immediately, most scholars have said: “It is not possible!” They must find a way to reduce this pseudo determinism, at least to a new determinism. But do not imagine that this new determinism abolish chance. It will only give rise to new hazards. It does not mean: “There is chance, let’s try to make science” anyway we always call it coincidence that resists explanation, or until such an explanation will be fine enough to show that the limits of chance still, as they say, fell. But pushing back the limits of chance, it will never delete it for a good reason we do not know if the chance exists or does not exist: it is what bothers us; we are human beings explaining the world, neither more nor less.

We can make it by saying that everything is random, everything is chaotic except for a man who desperately tries to introduce himself in this chaos. But what we must understand is that the universe is absolutely irreducible to what we think it is. This is not the world that requires us any logic, any determinism and makes us chase the chance. Similarly, the universe is absolutely irreducible even of what we perceive of him. It is not said at all, indeed, the world has even the appearance of what we give to him. Kant said: “If we were born with blue spectacles on our noses, the world would be blue.” In other words, the mere fact that, we are there, it is understandable that the world around us has the features that rightly or wrongly, we give to it: the constitution is never empirically that the projection of our meaning. In short, as one can not separate the world that designs, it can not be separated from who collects the flower on which there is the butterfly. It has absolutely nothing to see with that is harvested by men. That is the concept of “nature” it is a concept entirely fortuitous, linked to the existence to a particular being (human or butterfly,) by the fact that it contains. Now we understand that we can not ask the man a hand, “nature” of the other: there is a relationship of the bipolar world. Another genius philosopher -Berkeley- was right on this point, saying “esse is percipi…” (But never cites the following) and percipere that means: “it is being perceived and perceive. It was beautifully before there was that relationship, he realized that, thanks to humanities it will gradually discover much deeper: it is the substance (or in -itself) anywhere, and therefore we can not oppose the man and things. Accordingly to this, it is all our scientific concepts that must be considered as projections of ourselves in the world. In other words, for almost two centuries, we have determinism where there were none! In other words, we are doomed to animism. This does not mean at all that it was wrong. But it does mean that determinism is not the fruit of our projection in the universe. However, you may say, that this determinism is real since it has been proved. It has been proven, but what is shown is not certain. And then there are still a lot of phenomena that can be proven and that we have no idea.

Exactly in the same way, we plan on the universe what we call space. Why? Because we are extended to the perception or the understanding, we will confer the dimensions (length, width, height, etc…) And as it is us who specialized the universe is us who “temporalize” it because we can pose a beginning, middle and an end, that we place at least West, in a chronological sequence, that means, according to a temporality that we represent as an arrow. You see, this thing that explains the world in trying to model or by searching its origin, its evolution and its end is in both cases demonstrate, again, purely and simply of animism. We must conceive, therefore, that the birth and the end of the world, for example the big bang and the final cataclysm have absolutely no reality. When we hear dreamers like Hubert Reeves tell you: “At first there was the big bang, you want to reply:” But why are you looking for a beginning of the universe? And at the other end, when we hear these dreamers talking about the end of the world, you want their objection: “Why do you think there is a general destruction or what I know.” In other words: “Why do you think there is a beginning and an end? The whole problem of the temporal point of view is here.

You see, therefore, the enormous difficulty that science will face: it will be the “rationalization.” This will be certainly a “squared” rationalism as I told you, but a desperate rationalism, quest for certainty. But certainty can not be that, in turn, only partial and provisional, because animism, to be “square” will not be less than animism. It will then streamline the rationalization of rationalizes, etc. And this is infinity. In short, we never understand the last word; we know neither the nature nor the man, nor their relationship to the point where we can reach any certainty. That is madness! The universe is not in itself, man is not in itself he exists only in their relationship, a relationship that is no a science and will ever be exhaust. That is with nourishes us, this is what phenomenologist have called the “existential angst,” which is nothing more than a consciousness of this circularity is that it is ourselves who pose the problems we are trying desperately to solve. However, if this anxiety is the result of the risk and doubt that the man brought in the world, how can he escape to it? By faith, meet some people who have a religious option, live it as a consolation -or healing- of their concern. But we must admit that if the purpose of religion is to calm the anxiety, it is not opium, as Marx thought, but rather the final drug. God in fact is no more certain than the rest. That is why asking the question “Does God exist there?” Is as stupid as asking: “Does the universe exist? And it is true that if the universe does not exist outside of the conceptual or perceptual projection that our project onto him, God exists only in the bipolar relationship we enjoy (or not) with him. In other words God does not exist: It can be, too, that the object of a desperate, because, like the universe, He is the man.

This is what Voltaire was perfectly understood when he said: “God created the man in His own image, and he served it well! What is interesting is how, historically, he gave him. Take, for example, this projection in God there is a beginning, and develop a purpose: it gives you the Creation it was still not long ago, understood as the fact that one day God has said: “Look, I am going to do Adam, that will keep me busy.” And then after, there was the valley of Jehoshaphat or the Apocalypse. But all this for man of twenty-first century, it is nonsense (as the Immaculate Conception, the Magic and the Ark of Noah.) If indeed we now know that time does not exist, the Creation and the Apocalypse are, dare I say, permanent. And secondly, the famous Valley of Jehoshaphat is a farce: insofar as Christ tell you: “The Kingdom is within you… The Kingdom has already come.” This is not just to say “What am I after death” is nonsense: if you think you are God. That is all. Faith is not a mistake, but something much stronger than that. We must therefore ask the question of faith quite differently than does the Vatican. What is the Pope? He preaches against abortion, against condoms, etc. (Which everyone does not care), then it should take to grips with the problem of renewal of Christian thought, instead of recovering fundamentalists. The Catholic Christian thought has become old-fashioned, archaic, antediluvian nay. It is to discourage you from being a believer! The real problem today is simply that there is now a dizzying chasm between science and religion. Yesterday, I told you that scientific rationalism opposed to religion as a certainty to another certainty, and I told you I was finally comfortable (if not comforting). Now what characterizes scientific rationality for nearly a century is that its certainties have lived, so the relationship between reason and theology has considerably changed. On one side there is “the collapse of certainties,” to borrow the title of the work of Prigogine, but the other continued certainties become completely obsolete. How, at an age when science talks about the reversibility of time that makes us going beyond the idea of a time represented as an arrow even speak not only as we have seen, Creation and Apocalypse, but hello again, of eschatology (end of times) of “future life,” etc.? Eschatology as the “future life,” that which has no meaning, at least in their present form by the Catholic Church. So it is not dare to think that science today, unlike yesterday leads to the true faith of certainty which is excluded (or should be excluded) that is why we can never move from religion to faith.

One day, a brave lady told me: “I have lost faith the day somebody told me that Santa Claus, was the parents.” And I said, “Well, you did not lose much,” and I tried to show that any belief as superstition were obstacles to faith. Again, be careful with words: the verb believes, in French, may refer to both faiths (plural) to faith (singular.) Even ambiguity when someone says “is a believer: is it a man or a naive man of faith?” But there is a huge difference between the act of faith and membership (church or not) beliefs. Beliefs, it is still unproven, and that is why they go crazy, as Nietzsche said: notice that we can believe in “tomorrows,” for example the beliefs that go far beyond the “religious phenomenon” we can believe in race, spiritualism in the country, in Reason, etc. The dogma in general, is everywhere, if we take the word dogma in a very broad sense. Me too, who speak in this moment I am a dogmatic, of course, since the theory of mediation, I think! But unlike the Catholic Church, if I am protesting (you have probably already guessed that I had a Protestant education) I accept discussion, dialogue, debate. But Protestant education is a pure accident of history. Regardless of religious beliefs to which we adhere or not, regardless of religions and churches: they are only the entry in the history of systems more or less sophisticated beliefs: whether you will be born in Delhi, Riyadh or Rome, your beliefs are Hindu, Muslim or Christian, but your faith will be the same… “Finally, that means that “I have faith” or “I lost faith.” If you understand that doubt is always a founder of faith, it can never be acquired. It is always what you do or not like acts of faith. Faith, basically opposed to religion: that is what we usually do not understand. But this does not mean at all that beliefs are shameful. The conflict of faith and beliefs is in fact in all of us. After all, we are men, that is to say animals because they are rational, need certainty. And I will conclude by relating the story as you probably know all. One day Einstein boarded a plane to travel to Canada, a reporter rushed up to him: “Hey Professor, do you believe in God? And Einstein said: “If you tell me first what you mean by it, I will tell you if I believe!” I will comment it by saying this time: “For a silly question, intelligent answer! Because God, be sure that Einstein knew this is precisely the unthinkable, that is to say an in-itself that exists only to elude us, that is why it cannot be as I told you that being a perpetual search.

In other words, to such a question, other people could certainly answer: “No, I do not believe in it, but I hope on Him.”