March 12, 2013

Richard Feynman on God

If you expect us scientists to give answers to all the wonderful questions about what we are, where we are going, what the meaning of the universe is and so on, then I think you could easily become disillusioned and look for some mystic answers to these problems. However, scientist can take a mystic answer ... I don't know because the whole spirit of ... well never mind ... I don't understand it but anyhow ... if you think of it though ... the way I think of what we are doing is we are exploring, we are trying to find out as much as we can about the world. People say "are you looking for the ultimate laws of physics?" ... "No, I'm not. I'm just looking to find out more about the world. And if it turns out that there is a simple ultimate law that explains everything, so be it. That would be very nice and ... but if it turns out it's like an onion with millions of layers and we are just sick and tired of looking at the layers, then that's the way it is. 
But whatever way it comes out, it's nature it's there and she is going to come out the way she is. And therefore when we go to investigate it, we should not pre-decide what it is we are trying to do except find out more about it. If you say ... "but the problem is - why do you want to find out more about it" if you thought you want to find out more about it because you thought you are going to find an answer to some deep philosophical question, you may be wrong. It may be that you can't get an answer to that particular question by finding out more about the character of nature.
But I don't look at it ... my interest in science is to simply find out about the world and the more I find out, the better it is and I like to find out.
And there are very remarkable mysteries about the fact that we are able to do so many more things than apparently animals can do and there are other questions like that. But those are questions that I want to investigate without knowing the answer to them. And so altogether ...
I can't believe the special stories that have been made out about our relationship to the universe at large because ... they seem to be too simple ... too connected, too local, too provincial ... the Earth! He came to the Earth! ONE of the aspects of God came to the Earth! MIND YOU! And look at what's out there and how can you ... it isn't in proportion ... 


Anyway, it's no use arguing and I'm not arguing. I am just trying to tell you why the scientific views I have ... do have some effect on my beliefs. And also another thing ... has to do have some effect on with finding out how you decide something is true ...
If you have all these different theories … the different religions have all different theories about the thing, then you begin to wonder. Once you start doubting, just like you're supposed to doubt … you asked me if the science is true and I said ‘no no … we don’t know what’s true … we’re trying to find out … everything is possibly wrong’ start out on the basis of religion by saying ‘everything is possibly wrong; let’s see’ as soon as you do that, you start sliding down an edge which is hard to recover from, and so … the scientific view … well, my father’s view that we should all look to see what’s true and what’s may be … may not be true … once you start doubting, which to me is a very fundamental part of my soul … is to doubt and to ask and when you doubt and ask, it gets a little harder to believe.
You see — one thing is I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing … I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things but I’m not absolutely sure of anything and on many things, I don’t know anything about them such as whether it means anything to ask ‘why we are here’ and what the question might mean. I think about it a little bit; if I cannot figure out then I go on to something else. But I don’t have to know an answer; I don’t feel frightened by not knowing things … by being lost in the mysterious universe without having any purpose … which is the way it really is as far as I can tell … possibly … it doesn't frighten me.
Next, read Carl Sagan on a 'universe not made for us.'

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