Thursday, March 01, 2007

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Faith and Information Overload

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

When I was growing up, science knew everything. Well, not everything, but the patterns were set. Complete understanding was just a matter of digging to the next level of detail. No surprises were waiting, just a few more years of digging into the details.

Not only did the experts know everything, and they lets us know they knew that, but we knew everything that was going on. We had a view of the world such as had never existed. We were fortunate in that those completely knowledgable experts filtered it for us, and we appreciated that, and they let us know that we appreciated that. The New York Times printed "All The News That You Should Know, and We Know What You Should Know". The anchor of CBS News lets us know, every single night to make sure we got it, that "That's The Way It Is, Because I Know What You Should Know, And I Just Told You It."

In some countries, it was the government letting people know what they needed to know. And they made sure to remind them that they knew what the people needed to know, and they told them so. Different method, same result.

Haveil Havelim, vanity of vanities, such ego and false understanding. They really believed it, and they really make sure everyone else knew that. Faith was no longer necessary, G-d was old fashioned, WE UNDERSTOOD.

A few years have past, and while the attitude hasn't faded, science itself has proven, by it's own standards, that it doesn't and can't understand. The Uncertainty Principle proves that there's a level of detail that science cannot measure, and the Double-Slit Experiment has science proving effect without cause, and (even weirder) results changing simply due to observation. (In science at the really really tiny level, effect without cause is called Quantum Physics, in the macro world we'd call that a miracle.)

It would be too painful for those who know to admit that their basis of knowledge has already proven, by it's own standards, that it doesn't and can't fully know. This is even better demonstrated with...Evolution. Evolution has proven recently by it's own standards that it's the valid invalid theory. Evolution says things change slowly over time, but the fossil record says things didn't change slowly, rather they changed suddenly in "massive bursts". Even better, slowly has an actual period of time associated with it, which happens to be longer than the understood age of the Earth. So, evolutions latest theory of the development of life is...Panspermia. Translated was planted on Earth from outer space. (I'm not making this up.)

So here we sit. So much knowledge and information at our fingertips. Science proves itself wrong. We're flooded with events from around the world. The weather in Katmandu, or the traffic in Caracas, more than I could possibly process.

Yet, why did the stock market crash yesterday? So much information, and no one has even the slightest clue.

So many think they know, and they push this so so far. Hevel! Vanity!

And so, in the end, we come back to...Emunah, Faith. Will we try to process information overload in the vain belief that we can grasp it all? Or will we grasp at the belief of our fathers, emunah, bitachon, know what we can and trust in Hashem?

For me, I still struggle to overcome cultural brainwashing that we don't need to believe. Yet science itself has taught me that those who say that are themselves the fools, by science's own standards. By the standards of Torah, it's hevel.

Emunah is not.

Update: A secular take on some of this.

Posted at Mystical Paths. Read it elsewhere? Stop by the source.


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