We live in one of the best times ever to be a religious believer. This was not supposed to be the case. The Enlightenment popularized the idea that religious belief would be replaced with some form of pure reason. Humanity would evolve beyond the superstitious imagery of his ancestors, and all truth would enter through the doors of science. Many believed our material understanding of the universe would advance in tandem with the decline of religious belief.
Now more than 100 years have passed, and with them a boom in science and technology advances, and still the reasons to believe in God are stronger than ever. Not only is religious belief still fundamental to human nature, but much of scientific advancement has strengthened believers’ claims. It has been deeply interesting to witness the evolution of belief surrounding science and technology.
I can recall the exact moment it became clear to me that many Americans had moved from a love for the natural sciences to treating it as a new kind of god. Lawrence Krauss’ “A Universe from Nothing” included a movingly poetic quote that practically jumped right off of the page and into the American lexicon:
The amazing thing is that every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: You are all stardust. You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded, because the elements – the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution – weren’t created at the beginning of time. They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars, and the only way they could get into your body is if those stars were kind enough to explode. So, forget Jesus. The stars died so that you could be here today.
It is indeed moving, but for a very specific reason. Krauss uses traditionally religious language to convey a scientific truth. It is a moving truth, but…