Victor J. Stenger: “Secularism – Will it Survive?”


Will secularism survive? Yes, if we can keep science afloat.

Secularism should survive for the simple reason that there is no need for God. God is a persistent memory from the childhood of humanity – that invisible friend who once provided comfort in a strange and scary world. Humanity has now reached adolescence, a crazy and dangerous time when children are fully developed physically but have not yet learned how to avoid self-destructive behavior. Fortunately, adulthood is just around the corner, provided the teenager survives until then. If humanity ever reaches adulthood, it should dispense with God.

As late as the nineteenth century, it still seemed reasonable to believe in God. People looked at the world around them and thought, “I can’t see how the universe and life, in all their complexity, could have come about naturally.” So, they concluded that those things must have come about supernaturally. But the fact that you do not understand something does not imply that it cannot be understood.

Today’s physicists and cosmologists have shown that no laws of physics were violated – no miracle was required – to produce the universe. The laws themselves look just as they should look if they came from nothing. Similarly, biologists, beginning with Darwin, along with modern-day computer scientists, have shown how easily complexity can arise, without design, from simplicity.

Of course, this is not what the many people who still talk to their invisible friend want to hear. Currently, science is under heavy attack in the public arena because of its unwelcome message, and scientists are struggling to defend themselves.

But, barring a new Dark Age in which science is removed from the schools and its books and journals burned, the empirical fact that there is no need for God is bound to seep into common knowledge. The world will remain scary, but we will grow up and learn to grapple with our fears like adults – realistically, without the expectation of help from some imaginary realm.

2 responses

  1. Of course no laws of physics were violated, as far as laws of physics as we have discovered, agreed on, and established, but we and those laws came after a universe. If we tested those laws in the state of, “Nothing”, we might find that none hold true. Of course we can’t do that because we in turn would be nothing in that state. In a state of nothing, there would be no light to travel at the speed of light, nor would there be speed for that light to travel in, nor “travel”. But the laws themselves may look exactly the same as they do right now – if they came from something, and something cannot come from nothing.

    1. Sounds impressive, as well as quite silly. You might actually convince people that you know what you’re talking about. Maybe you and Victor Stenger can have an open debate on the subject. But I warn you, I don’t believe you’re going to fare very well. You against a world-renowned particle physicist discussing the universe? I would give the nod to Mr. Stenger.

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