It has been reported that church attendance has declined the last ten years here in America, and yet the religious vote has become ever more strident in these years, and public officials have bowed to their demands. Science is challenged because it thrives on uncertainty and every theory is challenged as only an idea, and not a reality. The supposition of the religious folks is that if they proclaim the certainty of their belief that makes it a true certainty, and they will accept no modification of their belief. It isn’t necessary to change one’s belief if they are certain that they are right.
In a discussion earlier today it became apparent that the scientifically inclined were talking about totally different things than the religious people. The scientists were interested in testable physical reality, and the religious ones were interested in the permanence of their personality. The scientists believe that personality arises from the natural combinations of physical materials mediated by the evolution of natural processes; thus, when the body dies its constituent material parts lose their organizing powers. Those physical materials can be reassembled into living humans again through complex processes of photosynthesis of plants using those dead people to create new proteins, the digestion of those by animals and other known processes of creating new beings by the functioning of DNA in its proper environments. That takes time, and a potential resulting human being wouldn’t have any consciousness of the previous dead one.
I have friends who will shout loudly and with absolute conviction that their spirit is eternal and that they as a personality will never die, that they are permanent beings. They claim they have lived an infinite number of previous physical lives, and that they will live another infinity of physical lives. When asked for proofs of these assertions they fiercely claim they know it to be true, and they are as certain of their assertions as they are that they are alive now. The vehement assertion of these ideas gives their face an incandescent glow of their deeply felt truth.
The scientist types don’t shout their beliefs with such conviction, and quietly assert that without their fully functioning body and mind they will simply cease to exist as a consciousness. That doesn’t seem to bother them, or fill them with much anxiety, and when a true believer in afterlife shouts at them, it sounds to them like an absurd break with reality. The believer might agree with them about physical reality, but then they will assert they have a higher reality that isn’t dependent upon the testable physical reality that we see around us.
Is there a prayer that would be acceptable to both of these vastly divergent types of people? Is there a common goal that would be inclusive enough that they could believe it and behave as close friends? Can prayers be created that are acceptable to every thinking being? Would this prayer be anything more than:
Let me embrace the past as it was, the present as it is, and the future as it will be.