26 June, 2008

Ever dance with the Devil in the pale moonlight?

I sold my soul for women and gold
To never grow tired and never grow old
But the gold grew heavy, the women grew mean
And I grew filthy, fat, and obscene
And I grew to see what now makes me weep
And I’d give it all back just to lay down and sleep
                                           - 2008 JS McAnarney

I’ve never understood how someone could make a deal with the Devil. The whole concept just doesn’t hold any water. Not that I can’t accept the remote possibility that there is some supernatural maleficent being in constant struggle with an all powerful yet benevolent Creator for that spark of divinity within me that many would consider my soul.
Of course, I don’t consider it likely, and I have found what I believe to more likely explanations for the ultimately unexplainable. But, I admit, there is more that I do not know for certain than that which I know.
Someone smarter than me once wrote that certainty, not doubt, was the enemy of faith. I think they meant that the steel of our belief that has been through the fires of our doubt is stronger than that which can be forged on the pusillanimous pyres of complacent assumption.
Just because I have doubts does not mean that I cannot face the possibility that I am wrong. I create my morality the best I can and I live my life so that I can respect the man in the mirror. I find I cannot stake my philosophy on a possibility; I’ll do the best I can with what I can know now and deal with the rest later.
Faust was obsessed with knowledge, and he sold his soul to the devil in order to know everything; he had little faith in the teachings of the Church. He was a scientist, after all. The moral of the story is supposed to be that faith is better than reason; what profit a man to gain the world if he loses his soul, and all that.
But it has got to be a fake; it would never work like that.
I mean few people, if given incontrovertible proof of the existence of a Creator, would fail to give It props. I mean look at how we revere our parents (most of us); certainly we would worship that which created us all. But unlike the certainty that we were born of the union of our parents, we can not be sure that there is a God.
And Faust was only concerned with what he could know for sure.
The fallacy of the story lay in the fact that as soon as the Devil shows up to offer you a sweet deal, it sort of gives proof to half of the story, and that gives evidence for the other half. Faust would have seen this, I think.
Science is not only concerned with that which can be directly observed but also the effects of a phenomenon which can be directly observed. Brownian motion (dust particles moving seemingly of their own accord) led to the discovery of the atom, the (then) immeasurable pieces of reality that were colliding with the dust and causing it to move. Like the old poem, "Who Has Seen the Wind?" much of what we know about our Universe is deduced by observing the effects of that which we cannot measure directly.
And that is still science. Creationists and Intelligent Design proponents will argue that we cannot know about the Big Bang because we were not there to see it. But we don’t have to have been there. We can see its effects. If the effects of a phenomenon can be predicted and measured, it can be reasoned that the phenomenon is at least partly understood. The COBE experiment validated the Big Bang theory.
It Works, Bitches
We don’t know everything right now. I believe that we have the capacity to know; if we don’t kill ourselves off first. Just because we don’t know everything right now does not indicate that we need to rely on archaic texts to explain the nature of the universe. Just because we can’t explain everything doesn’t prove there is an omniscient being somewhere that can. Until proven otherwise, I am still the highest form of intelligence. I’ll follow my senses, rather than my fears and uncertainties.
But if the Devil knocks on my door one night and asks me to dance, rather than tempt me to sell my soul for power, wealth or knowledge, it would cause me to drop everything and devote my life to serving God.
And that probably ensures it will never happen, even if it could. 

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