Blog Posts

What if Science had the power of Belief?

My job in the world is to promote an idea, a point of view, that brings together everything we know about the universe, the world we live in and our species from a scientific perspective and marries it with the power of belief.

From one perspective science is a belief structure of its own; an ever-deepening understanding of the vastness and complexity of all that is. It is more than that, though - it is also the drive to understand; a drive that is itself not understood by science.

From another perspective science is cold, empty and strips humanity of meaning. What meaning can there be for us when our lives are so infinitesimally small in the immensity of the universe? How can we trust feelings, senses and instincts that science tells us evolved simply to keep us alive and procreating, that leave us with persistent illusions such as the flatness of the earth, yet feel to us like they mean so much more?

Confronted by this, some people look for systems of thought that can help make sense of the contradictions. Of those, some find solace in systems of thought that had their origins in times when less was known of the physical world. Some find those systems of thought hard to justify the truth of, especially when there are so many of them competing, each promising to have the exclusive answer to the need for meaning.

Of course, we don’t usually call them Systems of thought, we call them Faiths, or beliefs.

Observation shows us that belief can be a powerful force in cultural terms. Belief has driven not only the propagation of ideas but the destruction and survival of ethnic groups. On a personal level beliefs, often subconscious, determine happiness and levels of success. Beliefs give us something to justify the effort when circumstances threaten us. 

How can we turn the power of belief to our advantage in a scientifically valid way when part of the success of science is due to its willingness to overturn irrationally held beliefs in the search for truth?

It seems to me that we need a belief that is open to and therefore immune from change as deeper truths are revealed over time, that does not rely on the proclamation of any individual or group and that has a positive, expansive and inclusive idea at its core.

Just accepting what we know and saying that that is what we believe in misses the mark - any idea hoping to be a contender needs to include the drive to understand, the search for truth, as an integral aspect. And here's a big, contentious concept: To function as a belief rather than a simple fact it should probably include some element of willing participation in a potentially fictional situation.

So now we are looking for a potentially fictional situation worthy of our attention - one that is positive, expansive, inclusive, corresponds with all that science has shown to us and has at its core the search for meaning.

After a lifetime's quest I have an answer.

My job is getting it out there.