Atheists are sure they are the winners either way:
- If religion is a natural phenomenon, explicable in terms of neuroscience and biology, then it loses the supernatural element that has been its historic focus.
- If religion is “unnatural”, then it seems to lie outside of the sphere of that which can be proven, or even discussed rationally.
Religious believers are sure they are the winners either way:
- If the appearance of life is scientifically inexplicable, then God must have done it.
- If the appearance of life is scientifically explicable, then the fine-tuning necessary to bring that about through natural processes points to a creator.
How do we get out of an impasse in which both sides seem not to realize that, in the end, their viewpoints are founded on impressions of reality and metaphysical convictions that cannot be proven to their opponents? Speaking of a personal creator whose existence is inexplicable is no more and no less obvious and self-explanatory than a multiverse that just happens to exist and, thanks to its inexplicably being infinite, inevitably produces a universe that can support life, in which we happen to be.
An even more interesting line of inquiry, in my opinion, is to ask what metaphors and symbols we can use to do justice to our existence in a universe that seems “finely tuned” to be just at the border of meaning and meaninglessness, order and chaos, despair and hope, lonely emptiness and powerful interconnectedness. How do we do justice to the fact that people can perceive this same universe, and their place in it, in diametrically-opposed ways?
Are there any genuinely new images of and symbols for God that do justice to what we currently know? Many people turn to other traditions in light of our progressing scientific knowledge, but where are the creative new ideas in theology that do not simply reshuffle existing concepts and language, but offer new metaphors?